THE Nigerian delegation to the 2nd edition of the LEAP Technology Exhibition in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, led by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, has won two out of six categories of awards in the Rocket Fuel Pitch Competition.
Over 10,000 Startups submitted applications for the global annual ICT event from different countries and after a rigorous screening process only 90 startups, including eight from Nigeria, were selected to pitch their business ideas in the semi-final.
Two Nigerian startups – RiceAfrika Technologies and Wicrypt – made it to the final stage and emerged as the global best in ‘The Tech for Humanity Award’ and ‘The Into New World Award’ categories, respectively.
RiceAfrika Technologies, founded by Ibrahim Maigari Ahmadu, is a tech-driven agric optimisation startup that deploys IoT-enabled harvester and its FARMEasy mobile app for smallholder farming communities in Africa, while Wicrypt, founded by Aronu Ugochukwu, is an innovative tech startup decentralising Internet globally.
Expressing delight at the performance of his team, Pantami noted that Nigeria was on track in implementing its National Digital Economy Policy and Strategies to ensure that Nigerian Startups add value to the global tech ecosystem, thereby creating a more conducive environment for nurturing innovation-driven enterprises.
“I am so proud of our Startups who emerged as the global best in these categories. It is quite a long journey that followed rigorous process until the end; from over 10,000 applications to the final 12, in which three Nigerians took part and two emerged winners.
“Our startups are creating solutions for the local market that can easily scale to the global market. They did not only pitch to win grants but also attended various knowledge-sharing sessions,” the minister said.
He attributed the success of the team to President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to ensuring a digital Nigeria that saw him unveil the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) in 2019.
“The recent successes are the fruit of policies we put in place to ensure our Startups walk shoulder to shoulder with their counterparts in Europe, Asia and other parts of the world,” he said.
Pantami also appreciated the Digital Cooperation Organization (DCO) Headquarters, Riyadh, for sponsoring the country’s innovative startups to participate and showcase their innovations to the world at the competition.
The startups had the opportunity of interacting with some of the world’s best mentors, angel investors and venture capitalists, and each winner received $150,000.
This year’s LEAP brought together breakthrough innovative ideas and emerging developments in technology under one roof. It was a landmark technology event that galvanised public and private organisations in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Other members of the Nigerian delegation include: the Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) Kashifu Inuwa, the Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) Umar Garba Danbatta and the Managing Director, Nigerian Communication Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) Tukur Muhammad Funtua.