African Development Bank Board of Directors approves $170 million investment in Nigeria’s digital and creative start-ups


The Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises (i-DICE) program is an initiative of the Federal Government of Nigeria that promotes investment in the digital and creative industries.

The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a $170 million loan to fund a digital and creative enterprise program in Nigeria.

The Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises (i-DICE) program is an initiative of the Federal Government of Nigeria that promotes investment in the digital and creative industries. This is part of Nigeria’s efforts to build back better, greener and more inclusive, to create more sustainable jobs for the young and burgeoning population.

The program targets over 68 million Nigerians between the ages of 15 and 35 who are recognized as leaders of innovative, early-stage and technology-based start-ups or leaders of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the creative sector. The system is co-financed by the French Development Agency (AFD) and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB).

“Governments have a much bigger role than just policy-making. They must be innovative and create an enabling environment that includes infrastructure and risk reduction to harness private sector investment in key growth sectors,” said Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank.

Investment in the Digital and Creative Enterprises program will also support leaders through business support organizations – groups that support, train and sometimes fund entrepreneurs – including innovation hubs, accelerators, corporate venture capital and private equity. The Bank’s financing of i-DICE will help the government initiative further cement Nigeria’s position as Africa’s premier start-up investment destination and a hub of youth entrepreneurship.

“This program is part of the latest series of our operations aimed at strengthening the implementation of the Bank’s Strategy for Jobs for Youth in Africa. As technology-driven businesses cut across all economic growth sectors, the program’s focus on the digital sector will bolster Nigeria’s job creation efforts,” said Beth Dunford, Vice President, Agriculture , Human and Social Development, African Development Bank.

The initiative will stimulate investment in 226 technology and creative start-ups and provide non-financial services to 451 small and medium-sized digital technology companies. In addition, the program is expected to create 6.1 million direct and indirect jobs, of which AfDB financing will support the creation of approximately 850,000 jobs. The value added to the Nigerian economy linked to the program is estimated at $6.4 billion.

According to the AfDB, the program will boost the Nigerian venture capital market through independently managed funds focused on digital and creative ventures. These funds aim to attract an initial capitalization of US$433 million in financing from the private and public sectors.

“This program will generate significant economic benefits for Nigeria,” said Lamin Barrow, Director General of the AfDB’s Nigeria Department. “Program interventions will help address youth employment challenges in Nigeria, which could intensify without scalable interventions. I want to acknowledge the strong country ownership under the leadership of Vice President Osinbajo,” he added.

The African Development Bank’s active portfolio in Nigeria comprises 57 operations spread across 30 public sector operations and 27 private sector operations, valued at approximately $4.61 billion. The i-DICE program aligns well with the bank’s priority strategic areas, better known as the High Fives – in particular, “Industrialise Africa, Improve the quality of life of Africans and Feed Africa”.

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