Nigeria partners Japan to empower indigenous tech startups

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By Na’ankwat Dariem

The National Centre for Artificial Intelligence Robotics(NCAIR), a subsidiary of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) is partnering Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA) to empower Eight indigenous technology Startups through its ‘iHatch’ initiative.

The Director General, NITDA, Mr. Kashifu Inuwa, announced the partnership while declaring the iHatch incubation open in Abuja.

He stated that the program was critical to Nigeria’s digital transformation drive.

Inuwa noted that iHatch is designed to train, mentor and empower promising Nigeria tech entrepreneurs.

He also affirmed that the programme will boost Nigeria’s wealth creation drive via effective capacity building.

The Director General explained that
“President Muhammadu Buhari promised to lift 100 million of Nigerians out of poverty, to achieve that, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Pantami, formulated the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy(NDEPS), a policy, which is the backbone program that provides digital innovation and entrepreneurship in Nigeria”

According to Inuwa “At National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) part of the implementation of the policy, we are partnering with Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA) to see how to create enabling environment, train our startups that can come up with innovative ideas to create wealth and prosperity for our Country. So this initiative named ‘iHatch’ is crafted to identify promising startups with promising ideas. To help, train, mentor, incubate them and for them to turn their ideas into product and services as well as train the startups on how to pitch their ideas to potential investors so that they can get funding,” he added .

The Japanese Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador Matsunaga Kazuyosh, assured of Japan’s interest in enhancing Nigeria’s Digital Economy sector through its intervention.

“I believe the biggest asset of Nigeria is not natural resources but human capital. So the Japanese government is now focusing more in not helping the establishment of infrastructures, agriculture, medical and security, but also digital transformation and green energy in Nigeria,” Kazuyosh stressed

He said, “Innovation is key to promoting digital transformation and green energy. I am very happy that the ‘Ihatch’ programme will inspire Nigerian youths to brush up their innovative ideas and maximise opportunity for empowerment. I hope this programme will contribute to the success of not only the Nigeria market but also the global market.

Ambassador Kazuyosh assured that the programme will be impactful and explained that, “Important part of the programme will not only bring private sector funding to the startups but also provided training to Nigeria Youths. I believe Nigeria need not only money, technology solutions but the important thing is to provide capacity building for young entrepreneurs that will lead to their success”, he noted.

One of the benefiaries of the initiative, e-Doctor, a digital health startup, Mr Jamil Ahmed, explained that the incubation programme will foster better networking among startups and stakeholders.

“This is a great opportunity for networking even among the startups coming from all parts of the country doing works in different aspects so that we can synergize to come up with incredible solutions”, Ahmed stated.

The programme, iHatch, a free intensive technology incubation is among several programmes initiated by NCAIR and its partners to help Nigerian entrepreneurs perfect their business ideas through a series of coaching, lectures and boot camps to generate a scalable business model in the country.