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What we need to drive digital economy – Minister

By Stanley Iwuoha

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy,Dr Isa Pantami on Thursday said that building the enabling environment for indigenous innovation and entrepreneurship to thrive is the key to driving digital economy.

Pantami said this at the Stakeholders Review and Validation Workshop of the National Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Policy (NDIEP) organised by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) in Abuja.

The workshop which is with the theme “Developing an Enabling Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Policy” expects stakeholders from different sectors of the national innovation ecosystem to review,suggest amendments and propose implementation strategies for the policy.

Pantami said that encouraging local innovation,entrepreneurship will ensure that the country become a producing and not a consuming nation.

“NDIEP focuses on providing an enabling environment for indigenous innovation to thrive.

“In Nigeria we have many potential to produce and deploy what we need and the government is working on providing the enabling environment by introducing the NDIEP.

“When we support our innovators and entrepreneurs,they will increase our products and position Nigerian goods for more exports,” Pantami said.

The minister added that the FG wants to engage ICT hubs,startups, among other innovators, to evaluate their innovation for support.

He,however,called on young innovators to be consistent and focused,adding that the path to
being an innovator is demanding.

In his address, the Director-General of NITDA, Mallam Kashifu Inuwa identified two types of entrepreneurship as Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) and the Innovation-Driven Enterprise (IDE).

He noted that SME is more on short term and regional benefits,while the IDE grows exponentially and can expose an idea to the international market.

According to him,the policy is designed to help us create an enabling environment to start and grow IDEs in Nigeria.

“By implementing the policy,we will create the IDE mindset and skillset and learn how to do business in our communities.”

The director general said that IDEs such as Jumia created over 5,000 jobs in 2012 when it was established,while the value grew to One Billion USD in three years.

He recalled that Boston Consulting Group, a global management consulting firm predicted that in 2025,Jumia and other potential unicorn companies can create three million jobs in Africa.

“Out of 615 unicorn companies in the world, only three are in Africa,two in South Africa and one in Nigeria. America has 265,China 204,UK 24 and India 21,” he said.

Inuwa added that growing unicorn companies is about putting in place government policies that drive digital transformation and ensure the delivery of new customer value proposition using digital technology and the innovation ecosystem.

The NITDA boss stated that government is committed to mentoring startups to develop the innovation ecosystem and translate their ideas into products for commercialisation.

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