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The African Development Bank (AfDB) and some partners have officially launched a new Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises (iDICE) programme, with investments worth a total of $618 million. The initiative, launched on March 14, is expected to attract direct investments in more than 200 technology and creative start-ups, and provide non-financial services to about 450 digital technology, small and medium enterprises. With a potential to generate $6.4 billion into Nigeria’s economy, iDICE is expected to create six million new jobs for young Nigerians. Speaking at the launch event in Abuja, Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo emphasised the importance of a coordinated approach to innovation across Africa. “Government must provide more support for start-ups and small businesses, and investors must provide more funding,” Osinbajo said. The French government, through the Agence Française de Développement, is a key partner in the project and will contribute 100 million Euros ($116 million), while the Islamic Development Bank, pending approval from its board, is expected to provide $70 million. Accordingly, the Nigerian government, through its executing agency, the Bank of Industry (BoI), will provide $45 million in counterpart funding. Other institutional and private sector investors are also expected to provide additional funding for the implementation of the strategic initiative. The French Ambassador to Nigeria, Emmanuelle Blatmann, said at the event that the digital technology and creative industries had enormous potential to create jobs and spur economic growth in Nigeria. “The iDICE programme is designed to support young entrepreneurs and innovators who are driving these industries forward,” Blatmann said. Through iDICE, around 175,000 young people, including university students, will gain direct access to technology to build creative skills, stimulate innovation, and help new businesses to flourish. iDICE will help consolidate Nigeria’s leadership position as Africa’s pre-eminent hub for young entrepreneurs and start-up investments. The fund will also provide technical resources to de-risk digital and creative companies at a scale and sustainable manner.

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