The African Development Bank’s Board of Directors has approved a $170 million loan to Nigeria to fund a digital and creative industries initiative.
The Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises Program (i-DICE) is a Nigerian government initiative aimed at encouraging investment in the digital and creative industries. It is part of Nigeria’s efforts to rebuild better, greener, and more inclusive infrastructure in order to create more long-term jobs for the country’s burgeoning youth population.
More than 68 million Nigerians between the ages of 15 and 35 are targeted by the program, who are identified as leaders of innovative, early-stage, technology-enabled start-ups or creative sector micro, small, and medium-sized firms. The Islamic Development Bank and the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) are co-funding the program (IsDB).
“Governments play a far bigger role than merely setting policies. To capture private sector investments in critical growth areas, they must be inventive and build an enabling environment that includes infrastructure and de-risking,” said African Development Bank President Akinwumi A. Adesina.
Enterprise support organizations — groups that support, train, and sometimes fund entrepreneurs – such as innovation hubs, accelerators, venture capital, and private equity companies would also benefit from the investment in the Digital and Creative Enterprises Program. The government’s i-DICE project will benefit from bank financing, allowing Nigeria to further solidify its position as Africa’s premier start-up investment destination and a magnet for young entrepreneurs.
“This program is part of a new set of activities designed to help the Bank’s Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy get off the ground. The program’s focus on the digital sector will deepen Nigeria’s job creation efforts, as tech-enabled enterprises cut across all economic growth sectors,” said Beth Dunford, Bank Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development.
226 technology and creative start-ups will benefit from the project, which will also give non-financial services to 451 digital technology and small and medium businesses. The program is estimated to generate 6.1 million direct and indirect jobs, with the Bank’s funding supporting around 850,000 of them. The program’s value added to the Nigerian economy is projected to be $6.4 billion.
Through independently managed funds focusing on digital and creative entrepreneurship, the program will help to grow Nigeria’s venture capital market. These funds aim to raise $433 million in private and public sector funding in the first year.
“This program would assist Nigeria significantly economically,” stated Lamin Barrow, Director General of the World Bank’s Nigeria Country Department. “The program initiatives will help react to Nigeria’s young employment difficulties, which could worsen if scalable interventions are not implemented.” “I want to applaud the great country ownership under Vice President Osinbajo’s leadership,” he continued.
The African Development Bank’s active portfolio in Nigeria consists of 57 operations worth $4.61 billion, with 30 public and 27 private sector operations. The i-DICE Program is perfectly aligned with the Bank’s strategic focus areas, dubbed the “High 5s,” which include “Industrialize Africa,” “Improve the quality of life for Africans,” and “Feed Africa.”