FG activates N240bn ADB facility for technology, creative sectors

*Continental lending institution expected to approve decision in October

*VP coordinating efforts to involve agencies and operators from both public and private sectors

In an unprecedented move to spur the entertainment, creativity and technology sectors in the country, the Buhari Administration has commenced the process that will pump N200bn into the sectors in financing and investment set to take off by the end of the year.

A informed source disclosed the weekend that the financing which is specifically a $500 million to be sourced from the African Development Bank (AfDB) has the prospect of harnessing potentials in Nigeria’ creative and technology industries.

According to the source, arrangements for the of a $500 million fund in support of what has been named the Nigeria Innovation Programme (NIP) is now being activated especially with a report of the first draft project proposal presented by the AfDB and other stakeholders to Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, few days ago.

The Senior on Media and Publicity in the Presidency, Mr. Laolu Akande, who confirmed the meeting, said it is public knowledge that the Vice President has spoken publicly about the $500m facility.

He added that details of how the facility will work were discussed on Thursday at a meeting presided by the VP which had in attendance cabinet ministers, representative of the African Development Bank (AfDB), other stakeholders.

Akande explained that the plan to get the funding is an outcome of the Technology and Creativity Working Group set up few ago with members drawn from the private and public sectors chaired by the Vice President.

The Working Group was carved out of the Nigerian Industrial Policy and Competitiveness Advisory Council earlier set up by the President also chaired by the VP.

Some of the Ministers said to have attended the meeting included the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed; Minister of Industry Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo: Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, and the Communications and Digital Economy,  Ali Ibrahim Pantami.

The African Development Bank was represented by Mr Lamin Barrow, its representative in Nigeria.

The Nigeria Innovation Programme, NIP, proposed by the Government, will close the gaps that exists in the technology and creative industries in the country.

It will also seek to boost innovation and job creation, and foster growth in the technology and creativity entrepreneurship ecosystem.

It was gathered, according to another source at the meeting that “the plan which is to collaborate with the AfDB and other finance partners to set up the $500 million fund in support of the NIP is on course.”

Already nine States including Abuja, and comprising Lagos, Osun, Edo, Cross River, Anambra, Kaduna, Adamawa and Plateau were initially selected as focus States, while Borno, Gombe and Kwara States were recommended by the Presidency for the programme.

Also PwC, which is consulting on the project during its feasibility study, considered potential innovation community and State cluster/innovation blocks in selecting more states, which resulted in the inclusion of Akwa-Ibom, Ogun, Delta, Edo, Enugu, and Oyo States.

The NIP will focus on four development pillars namely:
human capital, financing, infrastructure and enabling environment.”

Besides pumping N200 billion into the technology, creative and entertainment sectors, the NIP would create about 285,000 jobs in both technology and creative industries in the next 5 years.

Prof. Osinbajo had at different times and forums assured of the establishment of a fund to boost growth in the technology and creative industries.

For example in January 27, 2020 at a townhall meeting commemorating 50 after end of the Nigerian civil war, the Vice President said “we have listened to the voices of some of our young people in the Southeast expressing their discontent, however, we do not hear a battle cry, but rather a cry for help.

“We are determined to continue providing them with the tools and resources that will enable them to the most of their lives. This is the reason for our collaboration with the African Development Bank, AfDB to provide a $500 million facility for startups and entrepreneurial loans.

This is aside from the N10 billion fund set aside by the Bank of Industry for the same purpose.”