Nigeria is set to roll out its first seed funding for local software development, the country’s Minister of Communication Technology, Omobola Johnson has revealed.

The $9 million seed capital will be Nigeria’s first investment in a number of Nigerian and African tech startups, Omobola said at the kickoff of the DEMO Africa event in Lagos on Thursday.

The DEMO Africa event, which is holding in Nigeria for the first time since it was launched about three years ago will see 40 African start-ups pitch their solutions on how they intend to use technology to create opportunities and solve challenges. They are doing this with the hope of securing more funding that will enable them take their ideas and innovations to the next level.

Omobola noted that there is need for African governments to leverage on internet opportunities which could directly create job opportunities that will generate income, create wealth, jobs, new business opportunities and economic expansion.

“One report highlights this potential and predicts that the internet can contribute up to $300 billion to Africa’s GDP by 2025 and this is from an estimated $18 billion in 2013,” she said.

Ombola enjoined African governments to also invest more in infrastructural development to support and sustain Information Technology (IT) growth within the continent.

“It is good to show prowess in software development but it is even better to develop businesses and companies that are powered by that software. The recent IPOs of Twitter and Ali Baba are testimonies of what is possible. I can’t imagine that it is too often that you get this level of government participation in Demos around the world. And this is because government, innovation and entrepreneurship are rarely mentioned in the same breadth. But governments, indeed, African governments, have an important role to play in catalyzing the startup industry as evidenced in the US and of course, Israel.”

To capture the opportunities presented by the IT industry, Permanent Secretary at the Nigeria Ministry of Communication Technology, Tunji Olaopa said “any policy initiative at all that has no value proposition for the youths, or better still, that does not, among its many objectives, target the incredible but still largely undeveloped and untapped energy of our largely youthful population, is non-starter. The least we can do, therefore, at policy level through targeted investment as entrepreneurs and in our corporate social responsibilities is to create critical mass of role models and benchmarks that could challenge our youths on innovation trajectory.”

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