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FG to Establish ICT Devt Centres
Source: This Day
Source Date: Wednesday, December 07, 2011
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government
Country: Nigeria
Created: Dec 09, 2011

The Federal Government has commenced the process of nurturing small and medium size entrepreneurs through the establishment of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) incubation centres across the country. Such entrepreneurs, after they must have been groomed through a process of technology incubation, are expected to contribute to the growth of the ICT sector of the economy. Communications Technology Minister, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, last Tuesday in Abuja, inaugurated a 19- member committee that will provide a framework for the establishment of three pilot Information Technology (IT) incubation centres by the end of the third quarter of 2012. The committee is expected to develop technology incubation centre consultants, committed to the development of Nigerian entrepreneurs, international development partners, original equipment manufacturers, fund managers, representatives of the private sector together with other government agencies charged with the responsibility of incubation , SME development and IT industry development. The committee is mandated to: "Define appropriate model for technology incubation centres; Define governance and ownership model of the incubation centres; Assess feasibility and define high level implementation plan for pilot technology Business Incubation Centres in Abuja, Lagos, Calabar, Kano and Port-Harcourt; Define the rules, condition and criteria for selection, admission and exit of incubates; Define the criteria for evaluating the quality and viability of Incubates ideas or products, business plan, demo of the beta version or launched technology products, among others. " Their mandate also include: "Define legal status and type of ownership of the incubation centres; Define funding structure and sourcing requirements for the centres; Define the financial planning, particularly identification of financial resources, estimation of capital investment needed, operating expenses, income structure, pricing policy and cash flow forecast; Define the promotion plan of the centres and client detection, dealing with promotion tools, definition of key client sectors and marketing strategy; and Define the performance monitoring and measurements for the incubation programme." According to the minister, "it is worth noting that many of the household names in IT today such as Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, were started by young entrepreneurs with great ideas and access to venture capital," while charging the committee not to fail in their national assignment. "Our intent and expectation is that IT incubation centres will address many of the nation's challenges and will provide an enabling environment that fosters ICT innovation from incubation to commercial success." The minister said the Ministry of Communications Technology in conjunction with the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has already done some preliminary work on interactive workshop with a number of young and talented software developers to improve understanding of their challenges and constraints. The minister lamented the growth, productivity and development of SMEs in Nigeria, which she said were constrained by a number of reasons which included but are not limited to poor infrastructure, a poor skills base, access to finance, low adoption of ICT and access to markets amongst others. "It is my expectation that the committee will develop a sustainable framework for a domestic IT Business Incubation framework that will among other things, discover, nurture and unleash local talent to drive the growth of the ICT industry; facilitate the commercialisation of research results as well as the acquisition and use of state-of the-art technologies, promote domestic resource exploitation and improve the international competitiveness of the Nigerian ICT industry," Johnson said. The 19-member committee include: Chima Onyekwere of Linkserve; Leo Stan Ekeh of Zinox; Barbara James, CEO of Henshaw Capital partners; Mr Toyin Abdulmalik Ibrahim of SMEDAN; Kemi Abonta of NITDA; Emmanuel Onyeje of Microsoft; Mrs Olufunmilayo Ajayi of Oracle; Pius Okigbo Jr, of ISPON; Juliet Ehimuan of Google; and Teemu Kijarvi of Nokia, among other.
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