MEET FRANK OSHANUGOR
By Frank Oshanugor
The Director General (DG) of the Nigeria Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi has pledged not to relent in giving support to young Nigerians with start-ups in various forms to catalyse the entire eco-system towards building a digital economy.
The NITDA boss made this revelation on Thursday at the Eko Innovation Centre, Lagos through his Head of Corporate Planning & Strategy, Dr. Aristotle Onumo who represented him at the one day pitching by no less than 27 start-ups.
The event which was a product of GITEX Global and North Star in collaboration with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Dubai World Trade Centre was organised principally to select the best two start-ups who would have the privilege of participating in the forthcoming GITEX exhibition in Dubai. Similar exercise was held in Abuja earlier in the week.
The Gulf Information Technology Exhibition (GITEX) is annual consumer computer and electronics trade show exhibition and conference that takes place in Dubai at the Dubai World Trade Centre . GITEX Global is one of the world’s most influential meeting places for the technology industry bringing together thought leaders, creators, innovators and so on.
According to Onumo, whose department at NITDA is responsible for organising Start-ups, the Agency has partnered with GITEX for over a decade. In his words, “GITEX is a platform through which we expose our start-ups to gain the right kind of visibility and right kind of traction so that they would be able to attract investors which is one of the pillars driving our strategic road map and action plan 2021 to 2024.”
Speaking with journalists at the event, the Director (Commercial Event Management) of North Star, Mr. Zarko Ackovik, said North Star which is part of GITEX is the largest startup event in Middle East, Africa and Asia. He explained that they have chosen to come and do some road shows in no fewer than 13 African countries which include Nigeria.
According to him, “Nigeria has the largest startup ecosystem in the whole of Africa, but we do not see much of Africa and Nigerian startups in our region to display their investment opportunities to expand. So instead of sitting over there, we decided to come here and offer opportunities to Start-ups to experience what the region offers them and what the show brings for them.”
“The show brings to them about 400 investors they can meet and network with, in the event. It gives them the opportunity to go for pitch competition. We will give cash money of $200,000 to best Start-ups. It is not just to compete but there are other exposures.”
One of the event facilitators and Chief Executive Officer of Pinnacle Consulting, Mr Akande Ojo told journalists in a sideline interview that “this is the first time the GITEX team has come to work with us in Nigeria with a view to ensuring that we work with the Dubai World Trade Centre.
“We are having about 13 road shows in Africa including Nigeria. The idea is that many of our startups are talented but do not have the bridge to connect with, because they do not have the resources. So the only thing it costs them is to come here at the Eko Innovation Centre where we give opportunity to every one.”
Earlier, the Chief Executive Officer of Eko Innovation Centre, Mr. Victor Kolade had expressed appreciation to NITDA and the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy; Prof. Isa Pantami for creating the enabling environment for them to operate with respect to Start-ups.
The one-day event witnessed the participation of 27 start-ups who were selected from a total of 205 registered participants. The 27 of them pitched their ideas to six judges after which two winners emerged. They are Mayowa Owolabi of Paddy Cover Limited and Mr. Williams Fatayo of TruQ.
The winners shall go for exhibition at the forthcoming GITEX exhibition at Dubai World Trade Centre later in the year with all expenses to be bankrolled by Dubai World Trade Centre. Each of them stands the chance of winning $200,000 at the event.
Officials of the United Arab Emirates in Nigeria were at the event to represent the Consul General. They took time to highlight the bilateral relationship between Nigeria and UAE with the attendant mutual benefits.