THE African Development Bank (AfDB) and some partners have officially launched a new Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises (iDICE) programme, with investments worth a total of $618 million.
The initiative, launched on March 14, is expected to attract direct investments in more than 200 technology and creative start-ups, and provide non-financial services to about 450 digital technology, small and medium enterprises.
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With a potential to generate $6.4 billion into Nigeria’s economy, iDICE is expected to create six million new jobs for young Nigerians.
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Speaking at the launch event in Abuja, Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo emphasised the importance of a coordinated approach to innovation across Africa.
“Government must provide more support for start-ups and small businesses, and investors must provide more funding,” Osinbajo said.
The African Development Bank Group is the largest funder of iDICE, providing $170 million.
The French government, through the Agence Française de Développement, is a key partner in the project and will contribute €100 million ($116 million), while the Islamic Development Bank, pending approval from its board, is expected to provide $70 million.
Accordingly, the Nigerian government, through its executing agency, the Bank of Industry (BoI), will provide $45 million in counterpart funding. Other institutional and private sector investors are also expected to provide additional funding for the implementation of the strategic initiative.
At the official launch of the project, AfDB’s President Akinwumi Adesina stressed the need to leverage the huge potential of iDICE for sustainable job creation and economic transformation.
“We are retooling Nigeria to be more competitive in an increasingly digital world. We are creating hope for a new Nigeria, driven by the power of the youth,” Adesina said.
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He remarked that the AfDB expected the iDICE model to be rolled out in other regional member countries through its Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Bank initiative, which he said would be designed to create a financial and non-financial services ecosystem to support start-ups run by young Africans, and to create jobs.
The French Ambassador to Nigeria, Emmanuelle Blatmann, said at the event that the digital technology and creative industries had enormous potential to create jobs and spur economic growth in Nigeria.
“The iDICE programme is designed to support young entrepreneurs and innovators who are driving these industries forward,” Blatmann said.
Through iDICE, around 175,000 young people, including university students, will gain direct access to technology to build creative skills, stimulate innovation, and help new businesses to flourish.
iDICE will help consolidate Nigeria’s leadership position as Africa’s pre-eminent hub for young entrepreneurs and start-up investments. In 2022, African start-ups raised $5.4 billion, with Nigerian companies receiving the largest share of $1.2 billion.
It will also enhance regulatory policy frameworks such as the 2022 Start-up Act, provide access to financing through the creation of a DICE Fund, an independently managed venture capital fund; and mobilise over $217 million in investment capital.
The fund will also provide technical resources to de-risk digital and creative companies at a scale and sustainable manner.