ICT stakeholders see SMEs as panacea to economic recession
• NITDA plans innovation fund for startups
As the country strives to come out of recession, stakeholders in the information and communications technology sector have identified Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) tech startups as panacea to tackle the economic downturn.
According to the stakeholders, the country is capable of revamping the country’s current economic crisis if startups in the sector are given the needed support.
Speaking in Lagos at the 5th and maiden ‘’Lagos edition of Startup Friday, organized by the Office for ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIIE), a subsidiary of National Information Technology Development (NITDA), the Acting Director-General, National Information Technology Development (NITDA), Dr. Vincent Olatunji, said the body was looking for a way of proposing to government what it could take to remove Nigeria out of recession.
“We have seen that in the ICT and that’s why we are trying to support startups to create so many ICT SMEs across the nation that will turn to employable people, and we believe this will really solve a major problem of Nigeria which is unemployment.”
Also speaking on funding mechanism put in place to support ICT startups in Nigeria, Olatunji said: “There are several both government and private sector. We have an office that is in charge of ICT and Entrepreneurship, and Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development. The office is there to assist those that are seeking for fund; we’ll talk with them; we’ll interview them, and if there is need to take them to the next level or whatever they need, we’ll try to provide. And going forward, we intend to set up a National Innovation Fund where most of these startups can draw from. The only challenge is the sustainability of this fund.”
Giving insight into the N3 million Remita Seed funding to three tech startups in Nigeria, Executive Director, Strategy, SystemSpec, Deremi Atanda, said “This is just to give helping hand to those passionate young Nigerians who have ideas that can rule the world to step closer to putting Nigeria on the global landscape. They don’t need any 25 years like we’ve done to become global brands-emerging brands in developing economies. We want the world to see the best of Nigeria today; we want to be part of those giving wings to the eagles in Nigeria’s Tech industry to fly.
“We’ve had some different programmes in the past but now we’re saying
that especially in this period of recession it’s time for you to catalyze ideas. And ideas that are birthed when things are in the low are potentials of huge returns when things stabilize. So we say about now there are many people who have huge ideas but there isn’t enough funding to these brains. So it’s a difficult time. But even as we’re all having our tough times we believe it’s also right for we to put money in and encourage these young people.”
Atanda noted that it’s an opportunity for the Nigerian government to look inwards now there is crash in foreign exchange to say I’m going to use local Tech and the honest truth is that the power to use local tech is here; it’s going to save foreign exchange; it’s going to help us earn more foreign exchange to earn Nigeria recognition on the global economic climate.