Nigeria has launched a $618 million fund under the Digital and Creative Enterprises Program (i-DICE) to promote entrepreneurship and innovation in the digital technology and creative industries. The fund is made up of contributions from the African Development Bank, Agence Francaise de Development and the Islamic Development Bank, as well as private sector and institutional investors. The Nigerian federal government will also contribute through the Bank of Industry, with a counterpart contribution of $45 million in loans for qualifying startups.
The i-DICE Programme will be led by the Bank of Industry, with technical assistance and capacity building provided by Microsoft. The program will focus on Nigerian young entrepreneurs with innovative early-stage growth technology-enabled ventures and creative sector micro, small and medium enterprises, as well as Enterprise Support Organizations.
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AfDB President, Akinwumi Adesina, stated that “The benefits of the program to Nigeria’s economy are projected to be worth $6.4 billion”. The fund will also enhance regulatory policy frameworks such as the 2022 Nigeria Startup Act, provide access to financing through the creation of a DICE Fund and mobilize over $217 million in investment capital. About $1.14 million will be dedicated to women-led startups in both sectors.
Nigeria’s vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, emphasized the importance of a coordinated approach towards innovation on the continent, stating that, “bringing together all stakeholders to coordinate efforts at scaling up investments and building programs that provide the right enabling environment and produce talent pipelines that support the growth of innovation on the continent”, is imperative.
The vice president also highlighted the significance of private investment in the growth of startups in the country, stating that, “This influx of private capital has enabled start-ups to expand operations and create new jobs while contributing significantly towards our own GDP growth”.