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Innovation Goes East: Key highlights from inaugural Anambra Innovation Stakeholders Summit

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Anambra State and Summit
Anambra State, South East - Nigeria

The Inaugural Anambra Stakeholders Innovation Summit (#AISS2021), Nigeria’s foremost innovation conversation platform was held on Wednesday July 28th, 2021 bringing together stakeholders in government, public policy, business, finance, academia and the technology space across Nigeria and the Diaspora.

Anambra State

Chief Willie Obiano, Anambra State Governor

The summit was hosted by the Anambra State Information and Communication Technology Agency (ANSICTA) and organized by Dragon Africa.

Dr. Nkem Okeke, Deputy Governor of Anambra State, opened the summit and welcomed all participants and informed them that Anambra had waived the right of way fee and was focused on bringing the state online.

ANSCITA, Innovation

Okeke, said “Anambra State is poised to partner with you (stakeholders) on innovation and digital economy dries”.

In his welcome address, Theo Manafa, managing director of ANSICTA delivered the state’s innovation roadmap.

Delivering an address, Mallam Inuwa Kashifu Abdullahi, director general of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), reinstated the Federal Government’s commitment towards deepening digital economy development across the country.

ANSICTA

Cross section of participants at #AISS2021

Abdullahi who was represented by Dr. Usman Abdullahi, director IT Infrastructure Solutions at NITDA, said: “We recently unveiled our Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP) 2021-2024, which is targeted at driving programs and initiatives to achieve the objectives of the NDEPS. It is anchored on 7 pillars namely; Developmental Regulation; Digital Literacy and Skills; Digital Transformation; Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Cybersecurity; Emerging Technologies; and Promotion of Indigenous Content.”

Keynote presentation by TD on driving innovation, funding:

TD, Anambra Innovation

The keynote speaker Tomi Davies “TD”, president of the Africa Business Angel Network, noted that “Anambra must adopt the art of the possible. The global technology industry is currently heading to a Trillion Dollar software economy and the money is in building business that are technology enabled or technology driven”.

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ANSICTA, TD

TD, in the address titled “Where is the Money? How Technology and Innovation Can Transform Anambra State”, spelled out a detailed roadmap that will make Anambra a global leader which was very well received.

ANSICTA, TD, innovation

This set the tone for the panel conversations which comprised 5 panels discussing innovative solutions from reinventing education, incubating start-ups, fundraising, to building digital solutions, enabling public private partnerships and building a business case for Anambra.

ANSICTA, TD

Government needs to emphasis digital economy agenda

On the first panel, there was a robust exchange of ideas from leaders Valentine Obi, founder and group CEO of E-Tranzact Global; Chizor Malize, CEO of Financial Institutions Training Center (FITC); the representative of the DG NITDA, Dr. Usman Abdullahi, and Nkem Nweke, PM Engineering with Microsoft.

All the panelists agreed that the conversation is needed and we need to engage the industrialists so they can see in tangible terms the benefits of the digital economy.

PPP is about building trust

David Onu CEO of Interra Networks led the Public Private Partnership (PPP) panel and made several key points followed by a robust conversation with Charles Emembolu, Ceo Crestsage Tech a leading technology provider, Chike Maduekwe Special Adviser to the Anambra State Governor on Digital Economy and Hon Meekam Mgbenwelu former Commissioner of ICT in Imo State and Microsoft Africa alumni, the panel concluded that there needed to be easier ways for business to engage Government at all levels.

The need for PPP was agreed by all parties but there is also a recognition that PPP is about building trust.

Innovation? Education holds the key

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The crisis in education in Nigeria was masterfully deconstructed by Chinenye Mba-Uzoukwu as he explained the imperatives of education reform. This was followed by a passionate and robust panel conversation and key contributions of Chika Nwobi (founder Decagon) who explained Decagon’s business model, the business of jobs and his partnership with Edo State Government.

Uche Onwuamaegbu Ugwu brought it home to the practical level of school adoption by Private Sector players and volunteerism, the urgent need to change our approach to education was highlighted by all panelists.

Building hubs for practical innovation

Nneka Ukay, Executive Secretary of ISN Hubs, the largest hubs network with over 120 hubs in Nigeria, gave a detailed roadmap as to how to build a hub network in Anambra and the South East, in this regard Danial Chinagozi, Founder of Innovation Growth Hub; Uche Aniche, Founder StartupSouth; and Favour Chukwuedo of Ado Business Incubation Center all spoke to the need for Government to listen to ecosystem leaders on the dynamics and needs of the environment and how to build and scale enterprises.

In the business case for Anambra panel moderated by Ify Malo of CleanTechnology Hub; Jide Ikeako (MD ANSIPPA – the Anambra Investment Promotion Agency and One Stop Shop) noted that Anambra is open for business and has incorporated a one-stop shop for all investors, it is also one of the first States in Nigeria to offer free right of way to mobile telecommunications companies.”

Ijeoma Taylaur ED of Alpha Alliance Advisory; Don Ebubeogu (a former Chairman of the Onitsha Chamber of Commerce and MD Tiger Foods) and Cheta Nwanze of SBM Intelligence found themselves agreeing on the key steps to take and how to motivate capital and finance into the state. The role of educating investors and destination marketing was also raised in this panel.

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In the closing dialogue between Obi Asika, AISS convener and founder, Dragon Africa and Titi Akinsanmi head Government Affairs and Public Policy (GAPP) West and Francophone Africa at Google; Titi noted that we have to be intentional in our storytelling and narratives to attract needed investments and reminded us to incorporate the Female gender in all our plans.

Innovation Stakeholders Summit

Obi Asika noted that his key takeaways were the urgent need for educational reform, the clear need to make Anambra and the Region more discoverable, promotes destination marketing and push all States to invest in their brands. In order to attract investment, investors have to be aware of your opportunity and Anambra has many assets and stories it needs to share and engage.

The summit was compered by Michael Orekyeh, COO of ANSICTA.

In his vote of thanks Mr Theo Manafa, MD/CEO of ANSICTA thanked the participants for the high level policy discussions focused on how to unlock the opportunities that the digital economy can bring.

Keep your eyes on Anambra as a frontier of growth and diversity in technology because creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation have been home there for decades.

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