The introduction of Black Founders Fund by Google for Startups in Africa is a win-win investment for the company and the Continent.
Kashifu Inuwa, the Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), stated this while delivering a Keynote Address at the Google Black Founders Fund in Africa 2022 Launch Event, which took place at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.
Similarly, Inuwa said that as Nigeria moves to harness the potential of its digital economy through co-created regulations and provide enabling environment for growth, attraction and protection of investment in the sector, the recently passed Nigeria Startup Bill by National Assembly will help institutionalize legal frameworks that will enhance the growth of startups easily, quickly and conveniently in the country.
The DG noted that part of the challenge being faced by startups especially in Africa is legal backing.
According to him, starting and growing businesses in Africa used to be a big challenge, but with such Bill in place, it will be easier to start a business.
Speaking on the importance of the event, Inuwa said the gathering is an opportunity for startups to get funding and start a business. Also, it is coming with other incentives like the training Google offers which can be accessed via their Cloud.
While affirming government’s commitment to the growth of digital economy in Nigeria, Inuwa said “we believe our own responsibility is to come up with policies that can enable a level playing field, and the government has been doing a lot in this area, starting with expanding the mandate of our ministry to cover digital economy, and the ongoing implementation of National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a digital Nigeria, which outlined its strategic pillars that are key to the ecosystem.”
“We are currently working on a project called “Talent Gap Assessment”, because we believe talent is the people side of technology. In Africa, we cannot compete with the rest of the world in terms of hardware and any technology infrastructure, but when it comes to talent, we have a competitive edge over the rest of the world.
Advising the Startups to have it in mind that technology is making things easier, Inuwa noted that customers’ demand is changing rapidly, so they should envisage how human lives will be tomorrow and come up with innovative products that will be sellable in the future market.
“Don’t waste your time on what is happening today, the problem of today may be irrelevant tomorrow. Focus on Emerging Technologies and change the way we do things in this world. What helps you to succeed today may not help you succeed tomorrow.”
“Try and turn your products into services because the world is moving to a service platform markets. You will make more money in service than in products. It is easier to provide a service in Africa because of our challenging infrastructure. Let us explore that, that will help us to excel,” he added.
He assured that the government is ready to partner with people or organizations like Google and the ecosystem in general, especially five key critical stakeholders needed on board to build a strong ecosystem; Entrepreneurs, Higher Institution, Corporate Organisations, Multi-national and Government.
“Entrepreneurs brings ideas, higher institutions provide human capital development, corporate organisations absorb products, and government’s role is basically in the policy-making and intervenes in a situation whereby there is shortage in unserved and underserved areas. This is why the government came up the start-up bill which is also going to come up with a seed funding that can help with early-stage funding as well,” he noted.
Inuwa thanked Google for the opportunity provided to African startups through the Black Founders Fund and also encouraged other multi-nationals to look at how they can help the African startups ecosystem with funding, adding that it is going to be a win-win situation, the more startups in Africa, the more digital offerings, the more market they will create for the multi-nationals.
On his part, Mr Adewolu Adene, Government Affairs and Policy Manager, Google Nigeria, applauded the Nigerian Government for the support it provides on easy system, and contributing to their data in terms of physical incentives and the registration process of Corporate Affairs Commission.
He said, “We are really grateful for the support that we have been getting from policy-makers and all the forces behind. We have done a lot to get to this point and we hope that we can continue to do even more to take us further such that we are able to deliver to the respective mandate.”