FG partners JICA to empower indigenous tech startups via iHatch initiative

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…As Kashifu says partnership will inspire young entrepreneurs

By Ogaga Ariemu

National Centre for Artificial Intelligence Robotics(NCAIR), a subsidiary of the National Information Technology Development Agency(NITDA) has partnered Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA) to empower Eight indigenous technology Startups through its ‘iHatch’ initiative.

In his remarks during iHatch incubation opening ceremony on Thursday in Abuja, DG NITDA, Mr Kashifu Abdullahi disclosed that the program is critical to digital Nigeria.

Kashifu said that iHatch is designed to train, mentor and empower promising Nigeria tech entrepreneurs.

He stated that the programme will boost Nigeria’s wealth creation drive via effective capacity building.

According to him, “President Muhammadu Buhari promised to lift 100 million of Nigerians out of poverty, to achieve that the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Pantami, formulated that National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy(NDEPS), that policy is the backbone program that provides digital innovation and entrepreneurship in Nigeria.

“At National Information Technology Development Agency(NITDA) part of the implementation of the policy, we are partnering with Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA) to see how to create enabling environment, train our startups that can come up with innovative ideas to create wealth and prosperity for our Country. So this initiative named ‘iHatch’ is crafted to identity promising startups with promising ideas. To help, train, mentor, incubate them and for them to turn their ideas into product and services as well as train the startups on how to pitch their ideas to potential investors so that they can get funding”.

On his part, the Japanese Ambassador to Nigerian Amb. Matsunaga Kazuyosh said that his country is committed to promoting digital transformation in Nigeria.

In his words, “I believe the biggest asset of Nigeria is not natural resources but human capital. So the Japanese government is now focusing more on not helping the establishment of infrastructures, agriculture, medical and security but also digital transformation and green energy in Nigeria. Innovation is key to promoting digital transformation and green energy. I am very happy that the ‘Ihatch’ programme will inspire Nigerian youths to brush up their innovative ideas and maximise opportunity for empowerment. I hope this programme will contribute to the success of not only the Nigeria market but also global market.

When asked on the overrun impact of the programme on the participants, he explained that, “Important part of the programme will not only bring private sector funding to the startups but also provided training to Nigeria Youths. I believe Nigeria need not only money, technology solutions but the important thing is to provide capacity building for young entrepreneurs that will lead to their success”.

One of the participants of the initiative, e-Doctor, a digital health startup, Mr Jamil Ahmed in his remarks said the incubation programme will foster better networking among startups and stakeholders.

“This is a great opportunity for networking even among the startups coming from all parts of the country doing works in different aspects so that we can synergize to come up with incredible solutions”.

The programme, iHatch, a free intensive technology incubation is among several programmes initiated by NCAIR and its partners to help Nigerian entrepreneurs perfect their business ideas through a series of coaching, lectures and boot camps to generate scalable business model in the country.