African Development Bank and partners invest $618 million in Nigeria’s digital and creative industries

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Yemi Osinbajo

The African Development Bank and its partners launched a new $618 million Investment in Digital and Creative Entrepreneurs (iDICE) initiative for young Nigerians.

This will attract direct investments in over 200 technology and creative start-ups, as well as non-financial services to around 450 digital technology, small and medium-sized organizations. iDICE, which has the potential to produce $6.4 billion in revenue for the Nigerian economy, is predicted to create 6 million new employment for young Nigerians.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony in the capital Abuja, Nigeria’s outgoing Vice President Yemi Osinbajo underlined the significance of a coordinated approach to innovation throughout Africa.

“Government must provide more support for start-ups and small businesses, and investors must provide more funding,” Osinbajo said.

With a $170 million contribution, the African Development Bank Group is iDICE’s biggest financial backer. The French government, through the Agence Française de Développement, will give €100 million ($116 million), while the Islamic Development Bank awaiting approval from its board is scheduled to provide $70 million.

The Bank of Industry, the Nigerian government’s executing body, would contribute $45 million as counterpart finance. Further finance for the strategic initiative’s execution is also anticipated from other institutional and private investors.

Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank, emphasized the need of utilizing iDICE’s enormous potential for long-term job creation and economic growth.

“We are retooling Nigeria to be more competitive in an increasingly digital world. We are creating hope for a new Nigeria, driven by the power of the youth,” said Adesina.

The Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Bank initiative of the African Development Bank, which will be created to create a financial and non-financial services ecosystem to support start-ups run by young Africans and to create jobs, is expected to implement the iDICE model in other regional member countries.

Digital technology and the creative industries, according to Emmanuelle Blatmann, the French ambassador to Nigeria, have huge potential to boost employment and the country’s economy.

 “The iDICE programme…is designed to support young entrepreneurs and innovators who are driving these industries forward,” she said.

Almost 175,000 young people, including college students, will have direct access to technology through iDICE, enabling them to develop their creative abilities, foster innovation, and support the growth of new enterprises.

iDICE would support Nigeria’s leading position as Africa’s premier hub for start-up investments and young entrepreneurs. Nigerian businesses received the greatest proportion of the $5.4 billion funded by African startups in 2022, accounting for $1.2 billion.

Together with improving legal frameworks like the 2022 Start-up Act, iDICE will also raise over $217 million in investment capital, and open up access to finance through the establishment of the DICE Fund, an independently managed venture capital fund.

The fund will also offer technological tools to derisk creative and digital businesses in an efficient and long-term way.