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CommTech Ministry unveils $15m incubation initiative to boost software development in Nigeria



By Olubunmi Adeniyi

omobola johnson 3
Omobola Johnson, Minister of Communication Technology

Lagos. November 13, 2012: The Federal Ministry of Communication Technology has announced a $15 million technology Venture Capital (VC) fund to run and manage software incubation programmes hoped to foster growth among the developer community in Nigeria.

Omobola Johnson, Minister of Communications Technology disclosed this on Monday at a forum on software incubation in Lagos says that the Federal Government has already approved a seed fund of N500 million as part of the entire $15 million VC Fund required to run the programme.

The cities of Lagos and Calabar have been chosen for the pilot stage of the programme hoped to run in phases the Minister says underscoring government’s commitment towards boosting software development in the country.

Johnson says the Ministry expects to partner with big technology investors who would be required to provide the remaining fund totalling $12 million.

According to her, on the part of the government, its contribution of N500 million would be seeded through the Nigeria Information Technology Development Fund managed by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).

“The VC Fund will be available to start-ups and existing software companies who are willing to grow. We are really looking on sustainability and not on profitability,” she says.

Under the plan, investors would have their contribution in form of training, channel distribution agreements, equipment and customers’ introduction, hardware, software and curriculum.
Johnson says that the ministry has chosen Lagos and Calabar to begin the pilot stages of the software incubation programme before year end and during the first quarter of 2013 respectively.

To be precise, Johnson says that the e-Learning Centre in Lagos would host the software incubation centre in Lagos State while Tinapa Knowledge City would house the Cross River State Innovation Centre.

According to her, the target is to have a minimum of 24 businesses, six incubation centres with four fully functional by 2015.

She explains that rather than the project being government-owned, the innovation centres would be government-inspired, but would eventually be run by a non-profit organization.

The programme would initially be government-funded with the aim of attracting more investors in the long run, she adds.

Helen Anatogu, Programme Manager for the implementation of the software incubation programme, adds that the Federal Government plans to have established six software incubation centres by the end of 2015.

Some of the potential locations for other include Abeokuta, Enugu, Ife and Abuja, she says noting that the focus of the software incubation programme and centres to include enterprise software development, linguistic software, custom programming, mobile software, business intelligence and gaming.

The centres are targeted at students, start-ups and software development companies as the programme would offer business and technological training, access to software development tools at no cost, use of facilities and computer resources for development purposes, mentoring, assistance with marketing and promotion as well as access to finance, she adds.

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