Omobola Johnson, Nigeria's communication technology minister. Image by HumanIPO
Nigeria’s minister of communication technology Omobola Johnson has announced the addition of 70 startups to the government-supported iDEA incubator which produced 10 percent of finalists at this year’s DEMO Africa.
Speaking in Lagos, Nigeria while declaring DEMO Africa opened, Johnson said the new startups are the latest addition to the country’s fledgling ecosystem.
“We are contributing to the development of a robust pipeline of start-ups with our industry focused Techlaunchpad software competitions and our IDEA incubators and accelerators (last time in this hall was to graduate 7 companies out of the hub). Today we have added 70 start-ups to this fledgling but vibrant ecosystem and 4 iDEA incubates have emerged finalists for DEMO Africa 2014,” said Johnson.
She also announced the first close of the government seeded IT Innovation Fund will soon be conducted.
Johnson said: “Government has committed $9m as seed capital to this fund to be managed by EchoVC and we are literally a month or so away from making our first investment in a number of Nigerian/African tech startups.”
She added Nigeria still has a lot to do especially in the area of infrastructural development and increasing internet penetration rate in Africa.
“There is still a lot to be done, infrastructure to be built to connect more and more Africans to the internet, more ideas to be birthed, more companies to be nurtured and more investments to be made in these companies. African governments must support and sustain this,” she said.
In his welcome address, Dr. Tunji Olaopa, permanent secretary, Nigeria’s federal ministry of communication technology, lauded Africa’s young entrepreneurs using DEMO Africa as a platform to showcase their innovative products.
He said: “This vibrant youth population readily lend themselves to speedy adoption of ICTs and Telecom application and tools. It is with that sense therefore, that the Ministry of Communication Technology believes that this innate affinity to technology can be harnessed to help reduce the increasing unemployment figures, by assisting some of these youth to become entrepreneurs thereby becoming employers themselves.
“We have seen practical examples of young Nigerians developing fantastic applications and winning various keenly contested competitions. The Ministry further believes that if this young people are well groomed and supported with all relevant resources, they can be helped to not just write programs (code), but also develop useful, sustainable and profitable products from their skills. This idea is succinctly captured by the Honourable Minister’s well known refrain of ‘Companies not just Code’.”