Nigerian tech start-ups prove covid resilient
With the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic in 2020, that has affected the global economy, tech start-ups in Nigeria have exhibited great resilience, by leveraging on the pandemic to create innovation to deliver new customer value prepositions.
To ensure the sustainability of tech start-ups in 2021, the National Information and Technology Agency (NITDA), said it’s actively working in collaboration with Nigeria's Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, towards creating an enabling eco-system for tech start-ups in the country through policies such as the National Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Policy.
The Agency said it has launched a new centre, the Centre for AI and Robotics which includes a working space for start-ups, to address the problem of co-working and 3D printing, among others. The centre also includes the MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (MIT REAP) Innovation Hub and maker space, a Team Abuja (which the Agency is part of) strategy to foster access to specialized infrastructures, sandboxes, and to the global network of Fab Lab Team.
Speaking with BizTech Africa, NITDA’s Head, Corporate Affairs and External Relations, Hadiza Umar, explained how the agency is giving opportunities to start-ups on its database to feature on NITDA’s impact program that airs every Thursday on Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), “This creates awareness for start-up products at no extra cost,” She said.
According to her, other initiatives of the Agency include Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship scheme (TIES). The program has 4 tracks: Hub Upskilling; Internship; Start-ups Incubation and Technical Skills Capacity Building, that will enable start-ups at different levels to upscale to the next phase of their project. This initiative will be implemented in partnership with hubs across Nigeria.
Other innovation programs: includes the start-ups' voucher program. “This is aimed at providing business support services, workspace and mentoring for innovators and entrepreneurs at the early stage of their enterprise. The Agency will partner with eligible innovation hubs to implement this program with the expectation to cover areas such as product development, market research, and validation and pitching of ideas," Umar said.
“We also have the Entrepreneurship and Mentoring Scheme; it’s a platform that facilitates interactions between the beneficiaries of which are the micro, small and medium enterprises, MSME, (while driving the occurrence of Innovation-Driven Entrepreneurship (IDE)), mentors, Academics, Corporates and Venture Capitalists,” she said.
Rationale for high start-ups investment in 2020
Umar noted that during the pandemic a lot of start-up businesses in Nigeria diversified into logistic and e-commerce businesses and a lot of VCs invested their money in both these sectors. “Since federal government announced the total lockdown, people took advantage of e-commerce sites to buy essential goods. They took advantage of delivery services to send goods and services from one point to another,” she said.
Explaining further, she said the increase in funding in the tech investment ecosystem across Africa was due to most virtual capitalists now being better informed. They want to fill the existing gap in meeting the demand of Africans.
“The middle class is growing, populations are urbanizing, IT infrastructure is improving and cell phones and mobile payments are now more widely used than ever before in most of the world. All of these have combined into a recent technology start-up boom that has international investors interested,” Umar said.