The African Development Bank (AfDB), in partnership with other organizations, has launched the Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises (iDICE) program, aimed at supporting the Nigerian creative and tech industries. The program will attract direct investments of $618 million in more than 200 technology and creative startups, and provide non-financial services to about 450 digital technologies, small and medium enterprises. The initiative has the potential to generate $6.4 billion for Nigeria’s economy and create six million new jobs for young Nigerians.
The launch event for iDICE was held in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital on Tuesday and was attended by high-profile individuals, including the country’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo. Osinbajo emphasized the importance of a coordinated approach to innovation across Africa, with the government providing more support for start-ups and small businesses, and investors providing more funding.
Moreover, the AfDB is the largest funder of iDICE, providing $170 million, while the French government, through the Agence Française de Développement, will contribute $116 million. Pending approval from its board, the Islamic Development Bank is expected to provide $70 million, and the Nigerian government, through its executing agency, the Bank of Industry, will provide $45 million in counterpart funding. Additionally, other institutional and private sector investors are expected to provide further funding for the implementation of the strategic initiative.
Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, highlighted the need to leverage the huge potential of iDICE for sustainable job creation and economic transformation. Adesina noted that the initiative would retool Nigeria to be more competitive in an increasingly digital world, creating hope for a new Nigeria driven by the power of the youth.
Over 175,000 Nigerian Youth to Benefit from iDICE Program
Furthermore, through iDICE, around 175,000 young people, including university students, will gain direct access to technology to build creative skills, stimulate innovation, and help new businesses flourish. The program will help consolidate Nigeria’s leadership position as Africa’s pre-eminent hub for young entrepreneurs and start-up investments. In 2022, African startups raised $5.4 billion, with Nigerian companies receiving the largest share at $1.2 billion.
Also, iDICE will enhance regulatory policy frameworks such as the 2022 Start-up Act, provide access to financing through the creation of a DICE Fund, an independently managed venture capital fund, and mobilize over $217 million in investment capital. The fund will provide technical resources to de-risk digital and creative companies at scale and in a sustainable manner.
The French Ambassador to Nigeria, Emmanuelle Blatmann, said that the digital technology and creative industries have enormous potential to create jobs and spur economic growth in Nigeria. She added that the iDICE program is designed to support young entrepreneurs and innovators who are driving these industries forward.
Additionally, AfDB expects the iDICE model to be rolled out in other regional member countries through its Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Bank initiative, designed to create a financial and non-financial services ecosystem to support start-ups run by young Africans and create jobs.
Overall, the iDICE program is an important step towards supporting the development of the Nigerian creative and tech industries. The significant investment and non-financial support provided through the initiative have the potential to create long-term sustainable growth and opportunities for young people in Nigeria and across the African continent.