• Saturday, April 13, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

FG’s software incubation programme comes on stream

businessday-icon

The inauguration of the software incubation centres in Yaba, Lagos and Tinapa, Calabar expected to nurture a new breed of indigenous Information Technology (IT) businesses and software developers will take place in the next three days, BusinessDay has learnt.

Expectations are that Nigeria’s N960 billion software industry will witness significant growth in the next two years, specifically in the area of local content development. The Federal Government, however, said it is investing $1 billion to create software incubation centres across the country to spur development of local software content.

The overarching objective of these incubation centres, according to Omobola Johnson, minister of Communications Technology, is to create 25 successful ICT firms by 2015. Analysts told BusinessDay that software and mobile applications development has indeed become a focus area for the Federal Government. This is in view of the country’s earnest search for an alternative to oil and gas. Statistics have shown that the value of India’s software exports is in excess of $50 billion annually. Government is also looking to replicate such successes in Nigeria – a country blessed with abundant human capital.

“The focus of the ministry between now and 2015 is to drive local content and skills development to create employment and sustain the industry”, Johnson said earlier. According to her, “We also want to increase the contributions of the ICT industry to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“To achieve this objective, we would focus on software, mobile apps development, ICT entrepreneurship and innovation”.

Industry watchers have all expressed enthusiasm that these centres, when they come on stream, will help nurture and develop software entrepreneurs who will in turn build successful businesses that would provide relevant solutions to support critical sectors of the economy.

In a bid to foster IT innovation and entrepreneurship, the Ministry of Communications Technology had set up a $15 million IT venture capital fund solely focused on IT business. The ministry had secured $3.5 million seed capital from the Nigerian Information Technology Development Fund (NITDEVF). These businesses, however, will have the initial seed capital provided by government with contributions from private sector to assist incubates become commercially successful. BusinessDay further learnt that a fund manager has already been selected to manage the IT innovation fund.

“Yes, a fund manager has been appointed. But I can’t disclose the name of the manager now because we have not finished with the paper work. But I assure you, the fund manager comes with years of experience around managing funds for start-ups and IT companies in the US. They have already secured $20 million funding apart from the seed capital from government”, Helen Anatogu, project manager, iDEA said in an interview in Lagos. iDEA (Information Technology Development Entrepreneurship Accelerator) is a not-for-profit organisation with the aim of nurturing and growing successful software firms.

iDEA will manage and run the incubation centres. “The whole thing about the project is that you work through the door with an idea. But when you work out the door of the incubation programme you should not just have that idea but it should have metamorphosed into a successful business capable of employing people and improving the Nigerian economy”, she added.

 

BEN UZOR JR