• Thursday, June 13, 2024
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BusinessDay

Respite for start-ups as FG assures full support for innovation hubs

innovation

Nigerian technology start-ups that have been struggling in terms of funding and support have been assured by the Federal Government that it will do everything possible to back innovative hubs across the country.

Adebayo Shittu, minister of communications, disclosed the readiness of government to drive innovation in Nigeria, a priority project in its Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector roadmap.

This is coming at the back of the government’s realisation of the significant importance of innovation to grow the country’s economy, especially at a time when everyone is looking to ICT as a viable alternative for diversification from oil.

It should be recalled that BusinessDay previously reported that Nigeria may be losing out on benefits attached to innovation due to lack of funding.

Chuma Ezri, head of e-business at First Bank of Nigeria (FBN), said during the FirstBank Techtalk conference recently, “banks are not naturally wired to finance start-ups. However, we can collaborate with other banks to talk to government and lobby as Bankers’ Committee, to create tax incentives for people that support start-ups.”

This means that the growth of innovation hub and tech start-up lies majorly on the support of the government who is now promising full support.

According to a statement by Victor Oluwadamilare, the minister’s special assistant on media, “If equitably established across the country, the innovation hubs, according to Shittu, will provide unique opportunities for start-ups and SMEs to acquire important ICT skills, build key networks and access necessary funding.”

The minister, in a keynote address delivered at the public presentation of the Delta State Innovation Hub in Asaba, yesterday, said, “We, at the Federal Ministry of Communications are keen to support you in this process. Our policies are geared towards using ICT as a catalyst for innovation in every sector of the economy.

“A key part of my roadmap is the establishment of new innovation hubs and support for existing ones, as innovation hubs serve as magnets for high-end thinkers and a birthplace for ideas and channels for investment,” he said.

The minister further said these innovation hubs “are crucial in the Federal Government’s drive to create jobs, generate wealth and increase revenue. We will keep our promise to create new hubs across the country and strengthen existing hubs for greater effectiveness. We are conscious of the need to support these hubs by creating a virile ICT Innovation Ecosystem within the country.”

The minister added that as a result of a recent trip to the Silicon Valley, the ministry was currently exploring a partnership that would assess the current state of our ecosystem, disclosing that the consultants would propose a framework for developing an ecosystem in line with global best practices capable of making ICT innovation become second nature to Nigerians.

Ifeanyi Okowa, governor of Delta State, was commended for his unique vision in providing the state’s innovation hub, which the minister said would definitely inspire the human mind to think beyond the norm and force the re-awakening of innovation as solutions to the nation’s various challenges.