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By Emmanuel Elebeke

 

The Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi, says the partnership between the agency and MassChallenge  on Start-Ups will catalyze the  Nigeria’s startup ecosystem.

According to him, a vibrant start-up ecosystem is needed to guarantee the future of our country as they would be vital to finding solutions to our various challenges.

Abdulla made the remarks on Tuesday at a media stakeholder engagement on the Bridge to MassChallenge initiative organized by promoters of NITDA-MassChallenge partnership.

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The NITDA boss explained that the collaboration between NITDa and MassChallenge was conceived to enable the Nigerian startups community step up to a global and competitive  level, giving the setbacks they suffered under COVID-19 crisis.

He further informed that the initiative is designed to identify and accelerate top startups based in Nigeria and grow their businesses to serve the Nigerian and global market.

“You may recall that as part of our 20th anniversary celebration, we presented NITDA’s Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP) 2021-2024 to you. The plan was crafted in line with the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) for a digital Nigeria.

“The NDEPS which was developed with the vision of transforming Nigeria into a leading digital economy, providing quality life and digital economies for all has been properly aligned with the SRAP seven strategic pillars.

“These pillars are developmental regulation, digital literacy and skills, digital transformation, digital innovation & entrepreneurship, cybersecurity, emerging technologies and promotion of indigenous content,” said the NITDA boss.

On the achievements of the agency in the past 20 years, Abdullahi said it had touched the lives of more than 2.5 million Nigerians, noting that the agency also contributed to Nigeria’s exit from the recent recession.

‘‘Most importantly, our innovation and entrepreneurship initiatives have attracted more foreign investments into the country’s digital economy.

“We have also created new economic industries such as software, 

business process outsourcing and data protection, contributing to our national economy significantly.

“A vibrant startup ecosystem is highly critical to the future of our country and it’s vital to finding solutions to our various challenges.

“Innovation is a prominent way of creating prosperity for all and lifting countries out of poverty,” He said.

He described MassChallenge as well known as a global network of zero-equity startup accelerators, stating that the partnership focuses on achieving three main objectives:‘‘Our aim firstly is to promote Nigeria as an emerging entrepreneurial hub and leader of innovation in Africa in order to support job creation and economic development. Also, we aim to foster the growth and success of Nigeria’s startup enterprises by connecting our entrepreneurs with markets, networks, and capital in the global innovation ecosystem, while at the same time, facilitating key strategies to complement growing innovation initiatives within Nigeria.’’

‘‘It is obvious we cannot succeed in silo. 

Therefore, we have identified you, the media, among six categories of stakeholders that will be fully involved in this initiative.

“Others include critical government agencies, academia, business entities, angels investors and venture capitals and entrepreneurs.”

On the role of the media, he said: “Among all, you have the most critical role to play. Our startups are targeting the global market. Nigeria is a leader in the digital skills and startup ecosystem in Africa.

“The investments attracted by our startups confirm the position. Recently, Flutterwave announced new funding of $170m, and Stripe acquired Paystack for more than $200m.

“Other Nigerian technology companies like Interswitch have raised funding in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

“This shows that you are already doing your work in projecting Nigeria as a leader in Africa.

“We are fortunate to have an excellent relationship with you. We are excited by the interest you have already shown in this initiative. We received confirmation from around 80 of you to join us today, this is unprecedented, and we are most appreciative,’’ said Abdullahi.

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