- Uyo’s ‘Startup Friday’ ignites innovation fever in the South-South
By Oluwatobi Opusunju
The National Information Development Agency (NITDA) has disclosed plans to set up a Digital Job Centre in Akwa-Ibom State, oil rich coastal state in southern Nigeria. The Director General of NITDA, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, while speaking at the 9th edition of ‘Startup Friday’ in Uyo, the state’s capital, said the centre is designed to foster ICT innovation and capacity building among young Nigerians and build a geek-army to sustain Nigeria’s presence in the knowledge economy.
The centre is to be located at the Government Secondary School, Afaha Eket, in Eket local council to bridge the job and knowledge gaps within Nigeria’s struggling ICT capacity and innovation ecosystem.
“A developed indigenous ICT ecosystem will help the country to diversify its economy from oil. Like I have always said, data is the new oil. With the two local content related Presidential Orders, we need to focus on locally produced innovations for our local market. NITDA intends to encourage and support ICT entrepreneurship and promote it as an attractive career option for the teeming youth,” said Pantami who led a high powered delegation to kick off ‘Startup Friday’ activities in Uyo at the weekend.
‘Startup Friday’ is an initiative of the agency, executed by its subsidiary office, the Office for ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIIE) aimed at identifying and developing indigenous talent in the sector. The Uyo’s edition would be the first of its kind in the south-south region.
While welcoming the NITDA’s team, Akwa Ibom State’s Governor Gabriel Emmanuel Udom expressed delight over the choice of the state as the beneficiary of a developmental event that reflects the new economy.
“The choice of Akwa Ibom state by NITDA for such an important project is an attestation that NITDA, and indeed the present administration, exists to serve all Nigerians regardless of geographical locations or any challenges. Information Technology is the guarantee to a secure future and we are proud to be a part of this epoch making event .We are immensely grateful to the DG for spreading the dragnet to all he nooks and crannies of Nigeria,” said Governor Udom who was represented by the Commissioner of Science and Technology Professor Nse Essien.
The winning pitches
Ten indigenous startups pitched various IT applications they had developed over time. They were rewarded with cash prices by NITDA, to support and encourage their efforts of using IT solutions to address local challenges. The top pitch by Damilola Omoyiwole won a seed fund of N300,000, the second best pitch by unicorn.ng received N100, 000 seed fund while the third spot won by Touchable Pictures also got N100, 000. All the top pitches will also benefit from strategic partnerships, invitation to the agency’s events, introduction to investors and a three month mentorship, among others. Other winners received N50,000.
National Coordinator of the OIIE, Dr Amina Sambo Magaji, reiterated the agency’s commitment to the development of indigenous technologies even as he called all young people to further accept the challenge to develop solutions that will both disrupt and resolve existing challenges.
The ‘Startup Friday’ program has successfully held executed in the South West, North West, North East and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and is designed to take the tech and innovation theme across all zones in the country.