NITDA Awards ICT Innovation Prizes to Outstanding NYSC Members

To deepen its work of supporting innovations in the ecosystem in Nigeria, the Office for ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIIE), a subsidiary under National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has awarded prizes for ICT innovation to outstanding National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) members in Abuja who have excelled in its inaugural Idea Sprint under its multi-year ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program.

Established in line with NITDA Act 2007 and National ICT Policy, the OIIE is setup to nurture, cultivate and expand the ICT innovation and entrepreneurship in Nigeria.

Among the winners at the inaugural edition of the programme who got cash prizes as idea development grants are Opaluwa John and Awulona Obinna with

“MyDriver”, Temiloluwa Adesina with “A School in A Box” and Gorah Ayodele and Aluko Fikunayomi with “HIV Diagnosticare”. Consolation prizes and certificates of participation were issued to 13 teams of corp members who were shortlisted for the final round of the competition.

However, the top five winners that received the Idea Development Grant would use the funds to produce the prototype of the ideas they have committed to NITDA OIIE. Besides, some NYSC members that presented creative ideas to OIIE would observe their one-year mandatory service with OIIE in Abuja, as OIIE has sent a formal request to the management of the NYSC to that effect.

Addressing the audience, Mr. Peter Jack, director general of NITDA, stressed the importance of ICT as an enabler for creating jobs and wealth. In his words, “The top two richest men in the world (Bill Gates and Carlos Slim) derived their wealth from ICT. We are committed with new zeal to accelerate IT development across the country, especially ICT innovation and entrepreneurship. To spearhead the innovation, we established the Office for ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship. We are pleased at the pace of work and programs emerging from this subsidiary”.

He further expressed satisfaction at the level of collaboration with the leadership of NYSC, especially the Director General of NYSC, Brigadier-General Johnson Bamidele Olawumi, who has expressed full support for the program.

Speaking at the just concluded ICT Idea Sprint at the Abuja National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) orientation camp in Kubwa, Bunmi Okunowo, national coordinator of OIIE, said, “OIIE will leverage on its network of incubators to monitor, support and encourage the corp members to build their ideas into prototype and then begin to build a product out of it. The programme, which kicked off in November 2015, is to attract corp members who have innovative ICT ideas or ICT-driven businesses that can become a successful business within one to two years”.

“Under this programme, we are fostering the creation of new ICT businesses by corp members thereby reducing the high rate of unemployment amongst them. This is a conveyor belt-type of program for the corp members; supporting them from an ideation to a prototype development to an earliest version of the ICT product or service. We are doing all these for them during their service year in partnership with our network of incubators, angel investors, talent developers, NYSC skill acquisition and entrepreneurship development (SAED) department of NYSC.”, he said.

He added that the idea is to ignite the entrepreneurial spirit in the corp members who would indicate interest. “We would ignite enough passion in them to continue in that line. In this program, we will nurture them through a structured semi-mentorship and development management program. Should they want to pursue their ICT entrepreneurial dreams after service year, we will place them in incubators and accelerators and bankroll the incubation cost”.

Okunowo disclosed that the incubation programme would run for about eight months with the expectation that the ideas would have fully developed into ICT products or ICT businesses, which would be ready for commercial takeoff.

“Then we will take them to technology platforms such as DEMO Africa, GITEX to mention a few so that they can showcase their products and launch them. And in the process of their incubation and after incubation, they will have access to a number of mentors, investors and technology buyers along the way. We are not doing this alone. We have built our relationship with the ecosystem over the last few years and we will continue to work with them to accomplish the ultimate goals,“ he said.

He assured that the scheme would move to Lagos, Port Harcourt, Enugu and Kano and other parts of the country in 2016 and beyond. “We want to create, grow and deepen ICT innovation in the country. We know ICT can create jobs and wealth. We want to continue to stimulate it so that our youths will not only be seeking white collar jobs but rather thinking of how to become entrepreneurs, as it is the case in the United States, China, India and other countries that are really thriving in this area”, he added.

Mrs. Blessing Iruma, NYSC camp director, representing the State Coordinator, commended NITDA for the initiative and advised the agency to sustain the programme for the benefit of the country’s development. She expressed joy at the partnership attained by NITDA and NYSC, adding that the corp members have imbibed the skill acquisition programme.

Also, Mrs. Chinyere Ekwe, assistant director, NYSC SAED, commended the corp members for their zeal and determination during the participation at the idea sprint; and charged them to continue in that spirit to see that the ideas become products for commercial purposes. She disclosed further that NYSC members who participated in the competition submitted 35 entries and some of these ICT-based ideas cover such industry as agriculture, education, health and telecom.

One of the winners, Watti Oluwafisayo, commended the programme and its initiator, saying that it was an opportunity for the corp members to display their ideas and be rewarded.

 

Source: All Africa

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