By Mohd Auwal
Federal government has proposed to launch the $617 million investment in digital and creative enterprises (i-DICE) by November.
The is aimed at delivering on the promise of President Bola Tinubu’s determination to deliver on the promise to create millions of jobs in the technology space.
Vice President Kasshim Shettima mandated the members of the i-DICE Steering Committee to ensure that the programme commenced before the end of November this year.
He gave the directive on Friday when the i-DICE team gave him an update on the progress made so far during a meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Senator Shettima in a release statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President, Stanley Nkwocha, emphasised the importance of the initiative to Federal Government’s digital jobs drive, saying the administration is keen on delivering on its promises to Nigerians.
Accordingly, he urged all partners in the i-DICE programme to ensure judicious utilisation of the funds, noting that the $617.7 million scheme could be a game changer.
“The peculiarity of the challenges we face in the country demands that we have to create jobs for our teeming youths to address the crises associated with youth unemployment. I want to appeal to all of us here to unite and see that this programme takes off latest by the end of November this year.
“I am interested in getting a weekly update on what is being done to kick-start this programme. We also need to spread out to cover the whole country so that there is inclusivity. If we judiciously utilise these funds, the target impact and anticipated benefits will be immense.
“I want to assure the technical committee, all those working on this programme and our international partners, that you will get all the support that you will need. We mean business. My boss, President Bola Tinubu, is passionate about the transformation of this country. So, you have nothing to worry about the government’s support”.
Speaking with State House correspondents shortly after the meeting, Minister of Finance, Wale Edun described the project as “very key to the promise President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, particularly to the youth, for the creation of 1.2 million digital jobs.
“This $617 million project will go a long way to achieving the President’s priorities on job creation and economic growth, particularly inclusivity. One of the major elements is going to have 50% participation by women,” he added.
On his part, Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Mr Bosun Tijjani, said the scheme is a unique opportunity.
He noted: “The Nigerian technology and creative ecosystem has been doing well and is the best on the continent. We actually want to be a leader globally. And there’s no other way to do that than investing in the technology startups that are building these solutions.
“So, the government is putting its skin in the game to say ‘we want to support; we want to see more local confidence building’. And there’s no other way to show that than by putting money in some of the startups.”
For his part, the Managing Director of the Bank of Industry, Mr Kayode Pitan, hinted that the Vice President gave them marching orders to start by next month.
He said, “The Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises (i-DICE) Programme is actually a $617 million programme. The funding has been concluded with African Development Bank (AfDB), the French Development Agency (AFD) and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB).
“BOI (Bank Of Industry) also will put in some part of that funding. It will cover the digital area, the creative area and entertainment area, especially the areas that the youth are interested in. So, this is actually for the youths – people below 35. We have some grants, we have some loans. There’s some equity, and for the startups, government is hoping that some new unicorns are going to emerge from this particular programme”