The Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of the Republic of France, Catherine Colonnade, has said that the Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises (I-DICE) program of the Nigerian government is capable of creating 65,000 startups in Nigeria.
Colonade stated this on Friday as the Nigerian government signed an agreement with France on the program. Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Tuggar, and Colonnade signed the bilateral agreement at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja on behalf of both countries.
The agreement was also witnessed by Bosun Tijani the Minister of Communications who represented the Vice president of Nigeria, Kashim Shettima.
The program is being financed by the French Development Agency (AFD), the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Islamic Development Bank (ISDB) & the Bank of Industry (BOI). Out of the over $600 million value of I-DICE, the AFD is contributing 100 million euros (equivalent to $116 million).
Speaking during the agreement signing, Minister Tuggar said that with a focus on job creation, the I-DICE program is set to significantly impact young Nigerians, by assisting them to create sustainable employment opportunities, develop high-value-added industries, and contribute to the development of the Nigerian economy.
He noted that the program is an initiative of the Federal Government of Nigeria, spearheaded by the Office of the Vice President, and aimed at promoting entrepreneurship and innovation in the digital technology and creative industry sectors.
According to the minister, the program would train two million young people, whilst encouraging them to structure their own ecosystem, through access to financing for the creation of innovative businesses and start-ups.
He added that the program would also receive funding and support from the private sector and institutional investors adding that the Bank of Industry, as the Implementing Agency, will coordinate the day-to-day activities of the project.
Speaking on behalf of the vice president, Tijani said Shettima champions youth development and the Nigerian government’s efforts to boost the employability of young people by focusing on promising careers in the digital, cultural, and creative industries.
He said the I-DICE program and the launching of France’s contribution through the signature of the Financing Agreement between the AFD and FG are perfectly in line with the existing political will and momentum to advance young Nigerians.
He added that the program falls within AFD’s strategy to promote skill development and strengthen the supply and quality of entrepreneurial training in these high-potential sectors.