Nigeria: Osinbajo says AfDB’s $600m enterprise support fund underway

WorldStage Newsonline– The African Development Bank (AfDB)’s $600 million support fund for digital and creative enterprise in Nigeria will be ready by early 2022, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

Osinbajo said at an interactive session with graudands of Edo Tech Park, in Benin City, Edo, on Friday that the Federal Government was committed to supporting young tech entrepreneurs and creating enabling environment for them to thrive.

“I think that one of the crucial things that the Federal Government has done is what we call the Technical and Advisory Council on Creativity and Technology

“That council was set up with young people who are in the tech sector and in the entertainment sector.

“The whole idea was for young people to advise in the formulation of policy in technology and the creative space.

“The reason why we decided to that is because technology for example is all over the world,’’ Osinbajo said.

According to him, one of the reasons why Nigeria has a good number of  successful fintechs is because of the creativity council.

Osinbajo said that the council looked at all the policies and regulations around the licensing and regulation of payment companies.

“Many of the fintech companies fitted into that space; but the problem that in order to do anything in the financial space, you probably will need a banking licence or a licence of some sort.

“So, if you are going to be handling a service of any kind or lending money, especially large sums of money, you probably will need a banking licence; now a banking licence is N25 billion to be able to do that.

 “So, what the council did, working with the CBN, was to look at other types of licences that could be given to people who are in the fintech space; doing financial processing of various kinds of services in that space; who are not banks but who in many ways, behave like banks in some particular areas,’’ he added.

He said that the CBN, then, developed a number of licences which were issued to fintech companies but were not banking licences.

The vice president said that several of these companies had become billion dollar companies because a space was opened up for them.

“So, you will find that there are several companies now that lend money and this is really good because it opened up micro-credit space.

“A lot of small businesses that want to borrow but they don’t have collateral but you find a lot of these companies that are enabled by technology have the algorithms that can help to very quickly tell whether this person looks will pay back and how they will pay back.

“So, without necessary asking for any collateral, they are able to advance credit just by the use of technology.

“So, that’s one very important things that government has done; government, by the way is a regulator; one of the things that we like  to do is to avoid government getting in the way of people who are trying to do their business well.’’

According to him, too much government involvement in the business space will create chaos, hence it is better for it to operate as a regulator.

He said that another critical factor was funding—funding for those who were involved in the tech space—as it was one area where the government was also doing a lot of work.

“At the moment, we have an AfDB fund in the order of about 600 million dollars.

“We hope that it come into place early next year; AfDB has already approved it; the board has already approved it; so, we are ready to take on that fund and that fund is called the Digital and Creative Enterprise (iDICE) fund.

“The whole idea is that it will support enterprise such this park for training;  it will support individual efforts of persons in various areas of technology and creativity.

“Now, the problem always is accessing government credit, it is always that people are not aware or the process is difficult and all of that.

“Which is why we are going to have a website; and we are going to have a lot of sensitisation training  just to enable people to better understand how to access these types of facilities and what to do in order to be eligible for the facilities,’’ he said.

Osinbajo had earlier unveiled the Edo Shared Facility for Furniture Production in Benin City.

The vice president also performed the ground breaking of the permanent site of the Edo Tech Park.

In a vote of thanks, Gov. Godwin Obaseki, lauded the vice president’s interest and impact in the tech and creative sector.

“Three years ago, when you gave us the first innovation hub in the South-South;  that mustard seed you sowed that day is what you saw at the take-off campus of the Tech Park, which you visited and met the first set of graduands.

“And that deed is what has brought us here this afternoon and has germinated to reflect where we want to be as a people,” Obaseki said.

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