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AfDB targets 68m Nigerians, supports digital start-ups with $170m

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SIXTY-EIGHT MILLION Nigerians are on target as the African Development Bank (AfDB) approves a loan of $170 million to finance digital and creative start-ups in the country. 

The bank,  in a statement, said that investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises Program (i-DICE) was a Federal Government of Nigeria initiative aimed at promoting investment in digital and creative industries.

It further said that it was part of Nigeria’s efforts to build back better, greener, and more inclusively, while creating  sustainable jobs for the teeming youthful population.

The AfDB said that the programme targeted more than 68 million Nigerians aged 15 to 35 years who were  promoters of innovative, early-stage and technology-enabled start-ups or leaders of creative  micro, small and medium sized enterprises.

“The program is co-financed by Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB).

“Governments have a much greater role than just policy making. They need to be innovative and create an enabling environment that includes infrastructure and de-risking to harness private sector investments in key growth sectors,” said African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina.

The investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises Program, the bank said, would also support the young entrepreneurs  through enterprise support organisations – groups that support, train, and sometimes fund entrepreneurs – including innovation hubs, accelerators, venture capital and private equity firms.

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AfDB said the bank financing of i-DICE would help the government’s initiatives to further consolidate Nigeria’s position as Africa’s leading start-up investment destination and  youth entrepreneurship hub.

“This program is among the latest series of our operations meant to bolster the implementation of the Bank’s Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy.

“Given that tech-enabled enterprises cut across all the economic growth sectors, the program’s focus on the digital sector will deepen Nigeria’s job creation efforts,” said AfDB Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, Beth Dunford.

The initiative will stimulate investments in 226 technology and creative start-ups and provide non-financial services to 451 digital technology and small and medium sized enterprises, the bank noted.

The programme is expected to create 6.1 million direct and indirect jobs, of which the bank’s financing will support the creation of about 850,000 jobs. The value added to the Nigerian economy connected to the programme is  estimated at $6.4 billion.

The program will boost Nigeria’s venture capital market through independently managed funds focusing on digital and creative enterprises, the bank said. These funds aim to attract an initial capitalisation of $433 million by crowding in private and public sector financing.

“This program will generate significant economic benefits to Nigeria,” said Lamin Barrow, Director General of the Bank’s Nigeria Country Department, Lamin Barrow.

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“The program interventions will help respond to the challenges of youth employment in Nigeria, which could intensify without catalytic and scalable interventions. I want to recognize the strong country ownership, under the leadership of Vice President Osinbajo to make this happen,” he added.

“The  African Development Bank’s active portfolio in Nigeria comprises 57 operations across 30 public and 27 private sector operations, valued at about $4.61 billion.

“The i-DICE Program aligns well with the Bank’s strategic priority areas, better known as the High 5s – specifically, ‘Industrialize Africa,’ ‘Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa,’ and ‘Feed Africa.’ “

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