Abuja, Oct. 7, 2023: Vice President Kashim Shettima, has directed the Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises (i-DICE) team to ensure that the programme commences before the end of November.
Shettima gave the directive on Friday when the i-DICE team updated him on the progress made so far, at a meeting in the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said that President Bola Tinubu’s administration was determined to deliver on its promise to create millions of jobs in the technology space in Nigeria.
He noted that Tinubu’s administration proposed November 2023 to launch the $617.7million i-DICE Investment programme.
Shettima, who emphasised the importance of the initiative to the Federal Government’s digital jobs drive, said the administration was determined to deliver on its promises to Nigerians.
He, therefore, urged all partners in the i-DICE programme to ensure judicious utilisation of the funds.
According to him, the $617.7million scheme can be a game changer.
“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 programme takes off latest by the end of November this year.
“I am interested in getting a weekly update on what is being done to kick-start this programme.
“We also need to spread out to cover the whole country so that there is inclusivity.
“If we judiciously utilise these funds, the target impact and anticipated benefits will be immense.”
The Vice-President assured the technical committee and personnel on the programme as well as international partners that they would get all the needed support.
“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,” Vice-President Shettima said.
In an interview shortly after the meeting, the Minister of Finance, Mr Wale Edun, described the project as key to the promise of Tinubu, particularly to the youths, to create 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 to have 50 per cent participation by women,” Edun said.
For his part, Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani, said the scheme was a unique opportunity.
“The Nigerian technology and creative ecosystem has been doing well and is the best on the continent.
“We actually 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,” Tijani said.
In his remarks, the Managing Director of the Bank of Industry (BOI), Mr Kayode Pitan, said the Vice-President gave the team marching orders to start the programme in Nov.
“The Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises (i-DICE) Programme is actually a $617million programme.
“The funding has been concluded with the African Development Bank (AfDB), the French Development Agency (AFD) and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB).
“BOI (Bank Of Industry) also will provide some part of that funding.
“It will cover the digital area, the creative area and entertainment area, especially the areas that youths are interested in.
“So, this is actually for the youths – people below 35; we have some grants, we have some loans; there’s some equity.
“And for the startups, government is hoping that some new unicorns are going to emerge from this particular programme.”
Also at the meeting were the Ministers of Science and Technology Innovation, Mr Uche Nnaji; Industry Trade and Investment, Dr Doris Uzoka-Anite, and Arts, Culture and Creative Economy, Hannatu Musawa, among others.