Startup Friday Enugu 2019: Understanding the ICT Ecosystem

We are at the verge of a manual apocalypse and to prepare for it we need to build and train a digital literate workforce. A 2017 article by BBC reports that up to 800 million global workers will lose their jobs by 2030 to robot automation.

The study which was carried out by the McKinsey Global Institute predicts that this technological unemployment will affect developed countries on a larger scale than developing countries and jobs that require human interaction. What does this mean for the Nigerian tech ecosystem?

Nigeria has an unemployment rate of 23.10%, and an insufficient number of people equipped with digital skills beyond social media interactions and basic computer skills or knowledge of monetising their digital skills.There has been a surge in demand for jobs like programming, virtual assistance, web design and development, digital marketing in recent years. The good news is that this demonstrates that while technological advancements will take away jobs; it will equally create new jobs. Which means it is highly imperative that we retrain the current and incoming work force with digital skills to equip them for jobs of the future.

StartUP Friday is a program of the Office for ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIIE), a subsidiary under NITDAis a “meet-up” designed to bridge the gap that exist among startups, investors, mentors, buyers and other players in the Nigerian ICT ecosystem.It is an event open to the tech community to converge for discussions on how to develop the Nigerian Tech Ecosystem. The event took place on the 27th of April and besides hosting a pitch desk to support Start-Ups there were discussions onthe South East Ecosystem, the problems and possible solutions.

The programme of event included a Start Up pitching demo with 10 contestants and two panel discussions moderated by Uche Aniche (Start-up South/SSE Angel Network, Port Harcourt) and Mr Ifedy Eze (Head Business Development of Tech X Innovation Hub, Enugu), and comprised of noteworthy persons and stakeholders in the tech community such as Dr Amina Sambo Magaji (NC,OIIE), Mr Daniel Chinagozi (CEO, IG Hub, Aba), Engr. Charles Emembolu (Co-Founder/Director Roar Nigeria, Enugu), Engr. Ifeanyi Aniagoh (SSA to Anambra State Governor and Founder, Digipreneur Hub), Dr Ijeoma Ezika ( Tech Women Fellowand Lecturer), Hon. Chibuzor Okafor (General Manager, ESIDA, Enugu), Mr Kingsley Eze (Founder, Genesys Tech Hub, Enugu),  Hon. Remy Chukwunyere (SA to chief of staff on Job Creation, Imo State) and Dr Charles Ukawa (TA SOML and ICT for Health Coordinator, Abia).

The panel discussions were intellectually stimulating and astute observations made on the Tech ecosystem and its current issues on themes like bridging the digital gender divide, support and funding for Start-ups, entrepreneurship for youth empowerment, NITDA’s initiative and incentive for Start-ups.

Mr Daniel Chinagozi, CEO of IG hub discussed adapting the Igbo mentorship system in his hub to great success. The system of mentorship grants persons who are trained at IG hub the opportunity to not just become fellows but also have the option of staying to teach incoming fellows and get paid. This creates a system of sustainability and gets people more involved in Tech.

Dr Amina Sambo, Mr Kingsley Eze and Hon. Chibuzor Okafor expounded on the initiatives, incentives and opportunities available to Start-ups in Nigeria. Also funding and grants available to people with business ideas that provide indigenous solutions.

Dr Ijeoma Ezika discussed the need to bridge the digital gender divide and how the upbringing of girls and boys socialise them into feeling some career paths are specific to them or excludes the other gender. She cautioned that it is risky to exclude women considering that women are the co-pillars of the economy and all hands are needed to make more progress. By creating women friendly hubs and companies and making space for them at the table, more women will be encouraged to become a part of the Tech Ecosystem. She also acknowledged that the poor education system and text based method of teaching in Nigeria is an antecedent of people being discouraged from taking a STEM career path.

The event ended on a high note with the announcement of the top three winners of the Pitch desk − Greenage Technology (winner), Inaaga (2nd) and SchoolSuiteNg (3rd)respectively.

To get more updates on opportunities available to the Tech community and Start-ups followNITDA on twitter @Ngrinnovation

Authored by Lydia Ume

Lydia Ume is a writer, tech enthusiast and content strategist at Cocreate Consultant— a growing creative digital agency that specialises in content marketing for brands. Her articles have appeared on Bellanaija, Forcreativegirls, Storied and more.

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