Amidst applause and accolades, the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), received the Global Winners in different categories of the LEAP 2023 Rocket Fuel Pitch Startup Competition, WICRYPT by Aronu Ugochukwu and RICE AFRIKA by Maigari Ahmadu.
The Winner of the New World Award category, WICRYPT is a decentralized internet-sharing and monetizing Network which gives everyone the power to become a micro-ISP. While the winner of the Tech for Humanity category, RiceAfrika, is a tech-driven agriculture optimization service provider in Africa, which provides a platform that connects smallholder farmers in Africa.
While meeting with the Startups, Prof Pantami said that Nigeria is passionate about innovation which is why she developed the Startup Act. He stated that the challenge of unemployment, underemployment, and un-employability can only be addressed by promoting our digital innovation and digital entrepreneurship.
“We are more interested in supporting job providers than only supporting job seekers that can even hardly do the work even if they are employed,” he said.
He appreciated President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, for approving Nigeria to be part of a Digital Cooperation Organization (DCO). He went further to appreciate the DCO for the full sponsorship of Nigeria’s participation at the event.
“Many countries are contributing, but due to some challenges of funding, we are yet to make any contribution, but DCO sponsored 16 Nigerian Startups to attend the event without a single kobo from us by providing air tickets, accommodation, and everything for them,” Prof Pantami said.
“I want to also commend the National Information Technology Development Agency, particularly the management led by Kashifu Inuwa, for coordinating the event actively on our behalf and for making all our delegates and our startups to be very comfortable,” he said.
The Honourable Minister added, “I also commend the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through the Minister in Charge of Communications and Information Technology, His Excellency, Engr. Abdullah bin Amer Alswaha, for inviting Nigeria to attend the LEAP 2023.”
The Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa CCIE, while officially presenting the 2 Nigerian Startups that won the cash price of $150,000 each to the Honourable Minister who led the Nigerian delegation to the LEAP 2023 Tech Event in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, said that, based on the directive of the Honourable Minister, NITDA coordinated the participation of the startups through its subsidiary Office for Nigerian Digital Innovation (ONDI).
“We worked with them, we guided them, and we were there with them throughout the competition,” he stated.
“Out of the six categories, Nigeria took two, which accounts means almost 33.3 percent of the participants,” he said.
Inuwa said that out of the 220, eight startups from Nigeria were selected. He said in the first round 90 were selected to participate in the semi-final with all eight Nigerian Startups making the shortlist. Out of the 90, 12 were qualified to move to the final stage and out of the 12 startups, three were from Nigeria. This he said included WICRYPT, under the Into the New World Award category, and the Rise Africa Technology under the Tech for Humanity, and Scholar Limited.
The Winners appreciated the Ministry and NITDA for the platform given to them to blossom and for pushing young people to explore their talents.