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iHatch: NITDA urges Japanese Government to leverage Nigerian youth population to nurture global workforce

Photo: NITDA

*Kashifu Inuwa, CCIE, Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency, at iHatch startup incubation programme, urges the Japanese Government to leverage the Nigerian youthful population through strategic talent partnership to nurture and build a global workforce in innovation and entrepreneurship

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

Kashifu Inuwa, CCIE, Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has urged the Japanese Government to leverage the Nigerian youthful population through strategic talent partnership to nurture and build a workforce that can be exported other economies in the world.

ConsumerConnect reports  NITDA affirmed this is in consonance with the current administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s commitment to creating meaningful opportunities for youths in the West African country.

The Information Technology (IT) sector regulatory agency stated that Inuwa made the call at the Ihatch startup incubation programme 2nd cohort demo day and 3rd cohort opening ceremony, held in Abuja, FCT.

The Office for Nigerian Digital Innovation (ONDI), a subsidiary of the agency, in partnership with Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA) organised the forum, stated NITDA.

Inuwa also noted that the iHatch five-month free intensive incubation programme executed by the ONDI, and hosted within the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR), is designed to help Nigerian tech entrepreneurs to refine their business ideas through a series of coaching, lectures, and booth camps to develop scalable and adaptable business models that will focus on youth, innovation, entrepreneurship and technology.

The incubation programme will be held simultaneously in Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Gombe, and Kano and JICA has agreed to extend the Fourth Cohort across each of the 36 States and the FCT, said the Director-General.

According to the agency, this is to enable wider reach and to stimulate the startup ecosystems across the states.

Inuwa further disclosed that about 1,218 applications were received for the Second Cohort and the number was pruned down to eight startups, comprising 16 persons, a Founder and Co-Founder for each startup, after undergoing levels of rigorous selection process conducted by a panel of judges.

The judges, he stated, comprised experts in diverse areas of technology and innovative entrepreneurship.

The NITDA Chief Executive also explained that the selection process assessed the startups’ ideas based on the criteria of profitability, scalability, social impact, idea technique, competitive advantage, experience, and a clearly defined future roadmap.

He revealed that a total of 11,183 applications were received from across the six geopolitical zones for the Third Cohort.

This process culminated in the selection of the top 8 startups, comprising 16 founders in total that will participate in the Third Cohort that was launched, said the agency.

Inuwa said 16 startups that participated in the first and second cohorts of the iHatch incubation programme have moved on to achieve remarkable success in the areas of job creation, funding, participation in events, and valuable partnerships which have created a combined total of 179 direct jobs in the span of agriculture, health, education, and e-commerce sectors.

Apart from the total grant of US$45,000 (US$15,000 each) for Proof of Concept (POC) to the top 3 startups in the first cohort, some of the startups have raised some funding through other sources, he asserted.

Xolani Health (a health tech startup from the first cohort) secured a grant worth US$155,000, BetaLife (a health tech startup from the first cohort) secured an angel investment of US$60,000, Gifty (an e-commerce startup from the second cohort) got a grant of USD$8,000 while two other startups from the first and second cohorts respectively, raised a combined total grant of US$6,000.

Inuwa reaffirmed the agency’s commitment to working with relevant stakeholders and partners towards the successful implementation of the Nigeria Startup Act (NSA) which will accelerate innovation and provide much-needed jobs for our teeming youths.

Leaving nothing to chance is our resolve to nurture the entrepreneurial spirit in our youth to catalyse the Nigerian digital economy to the next level, stated he.

Speaking at the ceremony,

Doris Nkiruka Uzoka-Anite, Honourable Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment (ITI), represented by Dr. Femi Adeluyi, National Coordinator, National Talent Export Programme, applauded NITDA for the various initiatives and programmes for the advancement of the tech ecosystem in the country.

Anite noted that Inuwa, at the Digital Nigeria International Conference 2023 Edition, harped on the need for Nigeria to become the talent destination of the world where countries would come to seek a workforce that would work with them towards achieving their goals and objectives.

“Technology is a pivotal tool in all aspects of life which cannot be overemphasised and the green transition scoreboard global total has reached about $7.13 trillion for export and about $6.6 trillion for importation, the important aspect is that 54% of these activities is digitally edible and prepares people to be effective and efficient in the different sector of the economy is laudable,” said the Minister.

She equally appreciated JICA for its relentless efforts at advancing the tech ecosystem in the area of automobile, development, training, scholarships, interventions, and a lot more which has impacted the citizens directly or indirectly.

Likewise, Matsunaga Kazuyoshi,

Ambassador of Japan to Nigeria,  represented by Yuzurio Susumu Chief of Nigeria Office, in his remarks stated that Nigeria is the most popular country in Africa and heart hub of entrepreneurship activities aimed towards the advancement of the country.

Kazuyoshi said: “With all the challenges faced by insecurity, and limited infrastructures in the country, Nigerian startups are demonstrating remarkable creativity and resilience in developing solutions that other critical social issues in areas such as education, transportation, healthcare and finance.”

The Japanese

Ambassador noted that the present administration has identified the transformation potential of startups and digitisation, making it a key factor in diversifying the Nigerian economy from its dependence on oil.

The envoy affirmed that startups are seen as a catalyst for business transformation, bringing fresh ideas, innovative technologies and new employment opportunities.

Japan has the longest history of technological innovation and entrepreneurship has a significant role in supporting the Nigerian system.

NITDA stated that among those who attended were representatives from both the private and public sectors.

The three top startups emerged with cash prices to Fundus AI 1st position $15,000.00, Reno 2nd position with $12,000.00 and Ilim Tutors 3rd position $10,000.00 respectively, the agency added.

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