NEC Approves $617.7 Million i-DICE Program to Boost Digital and Creative Enterprises Across Nigeria.

In a momentous stride toward fostering innovation and digital prowess, the National Economic Council (NEC) has sanctioned the deployment of an ambitious $617.7 million initiative named the Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises (i-DICE) program. This groundbreaking scheme, announced during the 140th virtual meeting presided over by Vice President Kashim Shettima, is poised to span across all Nigerian states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), introducing an era of prosperity and technological empowerment.

The i-DICE initiative stands as a collaborative effort, drawing on financial backing from an array of prestigious organizations, including the African Development Bank (AfDB), the French Development Agency (AFD), and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB). Through this substantial investment, the program aims to usher in a revolution in the technology sector, generating millions of job opportunities and catalyzing economic expansion.

Under the vigilant guidance of Vice President Kashim Shettima, State Governors are to appoint representatives and focal persons for each geopolitical zone to ensure the meticulous and effective implementation of the i-DICE program within their jurisdictions. This initiative aligns seamlessly with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s aspiration for a legacy adorned with prosperity and inclusive opportunity, focusing intensely on skill acquisition and the enhancement of entrepreneurial ventures.

By laying a solid foundation for entrepreneurs and small business owners, the i-DICE program is designed to be a catalyst for innovation, job creation, and sustained economic growth. As Nigeria stands on the brink of this technological and economic renaissance, the i-DICE program, with its impressive $617.7 million budget, heralds a new dawn of limitless possibilities for the nation’s digital and creative sectors.

Frequently Asked Questions On the i-DICE Project.

What is iDICE? IDICE, or the Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises program, aims to support the development of digital and creative industries in Nigeria. IDICE provides funding and technical support to entrepreneurs and start-ups in the digital and creative sectors, with the ultimate goal of promoting economic growth and job creation in Nigeria.

Who is providing financing for iDICE? The iDICE program has mobilized roughly $618 million from several sources, including the African Development Bank, the French Development Agency, and the Islamic Development Bank. The Federal Government of Nigeria is providing counterpart finance through the Bank of Industry.

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The second component entails expanding access to finance through the Digital and Creative Enterprises (DICE) Funds and capacity building programs for startups. The financing take the form of debt, equity, and quasi-equity financing, The third component focuses on creating an enabling regulatory framework and policies.

What are the components of the iDICE program? The iDICE program has three main interventions. The first focuses on enterprise and skills development, including access to demand-driven digital and creative skills, information and communication technology-enabled infrastructure, linkages to job the market, and entrepreneurship skills.

Who are the primary targets of the iDICE program? IDICE primarily targets Nigerian women and men aged 15-35, as well as entrepreneurs, innovative early-stage growth technology-enabled ventures, and micro, small, and medium enterprises in the creative sectors.

How will iDICE benefit youth in Nigeria? IDICE is expected to create 6.1 million jobs (552,000 direct and 5,580,000 indirect). The program is also expected to equip 175,250 youth with technology and creative skills to increase their employability and support the emergence of more entrepreneurs. Additionally, 75 enterprise support organizations, including incubators, accelerators, and tech hubs, will receive training and mentoring to support startups and entrepreneurs adequately.

What types of businesses will benefit from the iDICE program? Creative sector micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), as well as technology-enabled ventures and startups will benefit from the iDICE program.

What are Enterprise Support Organizations and how will they benefit from the program? Enterprise support organizations, including hubs, incubators, accelerators, venture capital and private equity firms, federal, state, and private universities and polytechnics, will receive support from iDICE to strengthen their capacity and better support startups and entrepreneurs.

How will the program support women-led startups in the technology and creative sectors? The program has a dedicated budget of $1.14 million to nurture women-led technology and creative-sector startups.

How will iDICE select beneficiaries? The direct beneficiaries of the program will be selected based on transparent selection criteria or competitive calls.

Will all 36 states of Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory be eligible to benefit from the program? Yes, all 36 states of Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory will be eligible to benefit from the program.

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What digital skills programs will iDICE offer youths? IDICE will provide an opportunity for 175,000 youths to benefit from a variety of digital skills programs, including virtual, hybrid, and onsite training. The programs will offer basic to advanced digital literacy training, with a focus on emerging technologies such as artificial Intelligence, gaming, animation, and robotics. Selected universities, vocational centers, polytechnics, and hubs across Nigeria’s key regions will serve as onsite training centers

Can my university/hub/vocational center become an iDICE training center, and what incentives does the program provide? Yes. The iDICE project will support 16 digital and creative incubation hubs, innovation centers of excellence and digital satellite labs in universities and polytechnics. IDICE training centers will be selected through a transparent gap analysis and mapping process. Institutions will be assessed based on various criteria, such as location, accessibility to youth, experience with similar interventions, and willingness to provide space, to name a few. The incentives for selected institutions to become operational training centers include access to iDICE resources, equipment, and support.

Can my business/NGO specializing in digital skills training partner with iDICE? Yes. IDICE welcomes strong public-private partnerships and is excited to partner with corporations on all project components. To express interest in partnering with iDICE, please fill out the contact us form on the project website.

How are the DICE Fund managed? The DICE Fund is managed by three main bodies: A fund manager; an investment committee and a fund advisory board. The fund manager(s) will be independently recruited and responsible for all investment tasks, including screening, monitoring, and reporting. The Investment Committee, comprising a minimum of 7 members and at least three independent industry experts, ensures that the fund manager’s investments follow set criteria and limits. The Fund Advisory Board, made up of representatives of major investors, advises on audit, compliance, and conflicts of interest, and makes decisions relating to minor changes in fund documents and strategy

Can my company become a fund manager for DICE Funds? Yes. In a few months, there will be a public call for firms with fund management experience to bid to become iDICE fund managers. Check the project website and local newspapers for updates.

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Can I invest in the DICE Funds as a private investor? Yes. Private investors are welcome to invest in the DICE Fund as equal limited partners alongside the government. To express your interest, please fill out the “contact us” form on the iDICE website and an agent will respond to you.

I am a creative or I own a startup and need funding for a project; will iDICE support me? Yes. Details on how to apply for iDICE funding will be available on the project website. Entrepreneurs and digital and creative businesses that meet the eligibility criteria can send an enquiry email by completing a form on the project website, including basic information about the applicant and the business, as well as a brief description of the project for which funding is being sought.

Which agency in Nigeria is responsible for implementing iDICE? The Bank of Industry is the primary implementing agency for iDICE. The Bank of Industry is a Nigerian development finance institution that provides funding and technical support to entrepreneurs and businesses in various sectors of the economy. It is responsible for the disbursement of funds, the provision of technical support, and the monitoring of project activities and outcomes.

Will the Bank of Industry work with other partners to implement iDICE? Yes, the Bank of Industry will work with other implementing partners, including fund managers, private equity firms, training institutions, incubators and accelerators to implement the various components of iDICE, particularly in areas where other partners can provide expertise or experience. The project will also leverage additional funding from other sources, including the private sector and development partners, to support the growth of Nigeria’s digital and creative industries. The Bank of Industry will work closely with these partners to ensure that the project is implemented effectively.

What are the eligibility criteria for tapping financing through the iDICE project? To be eligible for iDICE financing, entrepreneurs and businesses must meet certain criteria. They must be registered and operational in Nigeria, have a viable business plan in the digital and creative industries, and meet other specific requirements depending on the type of financing being sought.

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