Innovation, entrepreneurship engine room for digital economy — Pantami

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The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami on Thursday said that building an  enabling environment for indigenous innovation, entrepreneurship is vital to drive the digital economy.

Pantami said this at the Stakeholders Review and Validation Workshop of the National Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Policy (NDIEP) organised by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) in Abuja.

The workshop which is with the theme “Developing an Enabling Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Policy,” expects stakeholders from different sectors of the national innovation ecosystem to review, suggest amendments and propose implementation strategies for the policy.

Pantami said that encouraging local innovation, entrepreneurship will ensure that the country become a producing and not a consuming nation.

“NDIEP focuses on providing an enabling environment for indigenous innovation to thrive.

“In Nigeria we have many potential  to produce and deploy what we need and the government is working on providing the enabling environment by introducing the NDIEP.

“When we support our innovators and entrepreneurs, they will increase our products and position Nigerian goods for more exports,” Pantami said.

The minister added that the FG wants to engage ICT hubs,startups, among other young innovators to provide enabling policy framework and working environment.

He, however, called on young innovators to be consistent and focused, adding that the path to being an innovator is demanding.

The Director General of NITDA, Mr. Kashifu Abdullahi explained that there are two types of entrepreneurship which includes Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) and the Innovation-Driven Enterprise (IDE).

Abdullahi said that SME is more on short term and regional benefits,while the IDE grows exponentially and can expose an idea to the international market.

According to him, the policy is designed to help us create an enabling environment to start and grow IDEs in Nigeria.

“By implememting the policy, we will create the IDE mindset and skillset and learn how to do business in our communities.”

The director general said that IDEs such as Jumia created over 5,000 jobs in 2012 when it was established, while the value grew to One Billion USD in three years.

He recalled that Boston Consulting Group, a global management consulting firm predicted that in 2025, Jumia and other potential unicorn companies can create three million jobs in Africa.

“Out of 615 unicorn companies in the world, only three are in Africa, two in South Africa and one in Nigeria. America has 265,China 204,UK 24 and India 21,” he said.

Kashifu added that growing unicorn companies is about putting in place government policies that drive digital transformation and ensure the delivery of new customer value proposition using digital technology and the innovation ecosystem.

He stated that government is committed to mentoring startups to develop the innovation ecosystem and translate their ideas into products  for commercialisation.

In his presentation the Technical Assistant to the Minister on IT, Dr. Femi Adeluyi, while reviewing the policy draft, said it targets to leverage digital innovation and entrepreneurship  for job creation, as well as empower youths in the country.

“The policy will promote research, indigenous content development and adoption while protecting the intellectual property of indigenous innovators.”

He said the policy is in line with the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, while its priority areas of the focuses on developing human capital, unlocking funding, developing infrastructure, among others.

According to him,on the adoption of the policy, there will be constant review, monitoring for compliance by the government.