The Federal Government has announced plans to launch a $617.7 million Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises programme in November 2023.
The i-DICE program which aims to promote innovation and generate job opportunities within the technology sector was launched in March this year under the immediate past administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
In a statement released by the Presidency and obtained by The PUNCH on Friday, Vice President Kashim Shettima, during a meeting at the Presidential Villa, instructed the i-DICE Steering Committee to ensure the program starts before the end of November.
He urged all i-DICE program partners to responsibly manage the allocated funds, emphasizing the transformative potential of the $617.7 million initiative.
Shettima said, “The peculiarity of the challenges we face in the country demands that we have to create jobs for our teeming youths to address the crises associated with youth unemployment.
“I want to appeal to all of us here to unite and see that this program takes off by the end of November this year.
“I am interested in getting a weekly update on what is being done to kick-start this program. We also need to spread out to cover the whole country so that there is inclusivity. If we judiciously utilize these funds, the target impact and anticipated benefits will be immense.
He added, “I want to assure the technical committee, all those working on this program, and our international partners, that you will get all the support that you will need. We mean business.
“My boss, President Bola Tinubu, is passionate about the transformation of this country. So, you have nothing to worry about the government’s support, he added.
The Minister of Finance, Wale Edun, underscored the project’s significance in fulfilling President Bola Tinubu’s commitment to the youth by creating 1.2 million digital jobs.
“This $617 million project will go a long way to achieving the President’s priorities on job creation and economic growth, particularly inclusivity. One of the major elements is going to have 50% participation by women,” he added.
The Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani, said, “The Nigerian technology and creative ecosystem has been doing well and is the best on the continent.
“We want to be a leader globally. And there’s no other way to do that than investing in the technology startups that are building these solutions.
“So, the government is putting its skin in the game to say ‘We want to support; we want to see more local confidence building’. And there’s no other way to show that than by putting money in some of the startups.”
The Managing Director of the Bank of Industry, Kayode Pitan, revealed that Vice President Kashim Shettima has given them instructions to commence the project next month.
He further disclosed that funding arrangements have been finalized with the African Development Bank.
Pitan noted, “BOI also will put in some part of that funding. It will cover the digital area, the creative area, and the entertainment area, especially the areas that the youth are interested in. So, this is actually for the youth – people below 35.
“We have some grants, we have some loans. There’s some equity, and for the startups, the government is hoping that some new unicorns are going to emerge from this particular program,” he said.