ADB Approves US$170 Million Investment in Nigeria’s Start-Ups

The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (ADB) has approved a loan of US$170 million to finance a digital and creative enterprises programme in Nigeria.

The Digital and Creative Enterprises Programme (i-DICE) investment is a Federal Government of Nigeria initiative promoting digital and creative industries investment. It is part of Nigeria’s efforts to build back better, greener, and more inclusively, to create more sustainable jobs for the teeming youthful population.

The programme targets more than 68 million Nigerians aged 15 to 35 years who are recognised as leaders of innovative, early-stage, technology-enabled start-ups or as leaders of creative sector micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The scheme is co-financed by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB).

“Governments have a much greater role than just policy-making. They need to be innovative and create an enabling environment that includes infrastructure and de-risking to harness private sector investments in key growth sectors,” 

said Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank.

The Digital and Creative Enterprises Programme investment will also support the leaders through enterprise support organisations – groups that support, train, and sometimes fund entrepreneurs – including innovation hubs, accelerators, venture capital, and private equity firms. Bank financing of i-DICE will help the government initiative further consolidate Nigeria’s position as Africa’s leading start-up investment destination and a youth entrepreneurship hub.

“This programme is among the latest series of our operations meant to bolster the implementation of the Bank’s Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy. Given that tech-enabled enterprises cut across all the economic growth sectors, the program’s focus on the digital sector will deepen Nigeria’s job creation efforts,” 

said Beth Dunford, Vice President, Agriculture, Human and Social Development, African Development Bank.

The initiative will stimulate investments in 226 technology and creative start-ups and provide non-financial services to 451 digital technology and small and medium enterprises. In addition, the scheme is expected to create 6.1 million direct and indirect jobs, of which the ADB’s financing will support the creation of about 850,000 jobs. The value added to the Nigerian economy connected to the programme is estimated at US$6.4 billion.

According to ADB, the programme will boost Nigeria’s venture capital market through independently managed funds focusing on digital and creative enterprises. These funds aim to attract an initial capitalisation of US$433 million in private and public sector financing.

“This programme will generate significant economic benefits to Nigeria. The programme interventions will help respond to the challenges of youth employment in Nigeria, which could intensify without scalable interventions. I want to recognise the strong country ownership, under the leadership of Vice President Osinbajo,” 

said Lamin Barrow, Director General, ADB’s Nigeria Country Department. 

The African Development Bank’s active portfolio in Nigeria comprises 57 operations across 30 public and 27 private sector operations, valued at about US$4.61 billion. The i-DICE programme aligns well with the bank’s strategic priority areas, better known as the High Fives – specifically, “Industrialise Africa, Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa and Feed Africa.”