Nigeria Set for Gitex 2016

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Emma Okonji

Nigeria has begun preparation for the 2006 global annual technology exhibition tagged Gitex.
Part of the preparation is the inauguration of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) in Nigeria by the acting Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Dr. Vincent Olatunji, as well as the commencement of the official selection process of the country’s technology startup champions that will pitch at the Gitex Startup Movement.

Two years ago, Nigeria was nominated as the official country partner of Gitex, and the country participated fully.
According to NITDA, about $1 million (N200 million) is up for grabs for the winning startups. Nigeria, through NITDA, plans to promote a minimum of 10 technology startups to pitch for business at this global startup gatherings expected to have over 400 startups.

The Gitex Week 2016 features the Innovation Hub around which the Gitex Startup Movement has been designed to house competing startups.

The global startup ecosystem will be convening at GITEX 2016 with more than 2,000 entrepreneurs, investors and mentors from over 30 countries expected to provide the fillip to do deals on technology innovation.

“NITDA will hinge its 2016 Gitex participation on the promotion of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) startups as the country aggressively pursues foreign earnings in non-oil sectors,” Olatunji said in Abuja during the Gitex 2016 LOC inauguration.

He tasked the LOC members to commit time and wits to ensuring that Nigeria achieves its objectives for being part of the Gitex, now touted as the biggest technology event in the Middle East, South East Asia and Africa.

“Our participation in Gitex over the years has really benefitted the country in many ways. It has attracted investments to the country, and two of our startups that showcased their innovation at last year’s event have been engaged by a Malaysia company. I keep on telling people that ICT is the credible alternative to oil. Through ICT the country could gain quickly what it had lost to oil in the last few years since the oil price started nose diving. So, I urge this LOC to do this work diligently as if there is no tomorrow. You may be helping the country back on the path of honour and pride,” Olatunji said.

As part of the efforts to boost the value of Nigeria’s participation and enlighten potential investors at the five day event on the country’s non-oil sectors, he said the country would organise an ICT investment forum. About 150,000 trade visitors from over 144 countries are expected at Gitex 2016.

“This is a ready marketplace to sell Brand Nigeria and encourage more foreign investors to stake their investment in Africa’s largest economy,” he added.

Olatunji urged the committee headed by Mr. MuhammedIdrisYelwa to select the best startups that will be able to showcase the talent, untapped skill-set, budding entrepreneurship and the willpower of the new Nigerian political leaders in order to further make the country attractive to foreign investors.
The LOC members were drawn from the public and private sectors to include Yelwa; HajiaHadiza Umar who heads the sub-committee on Pavilion Management; Mr. SegunOruame who heads the sub-committee on media, publicity and fund raising; and BunmiOkunowo who heads the sub-committee for Startups.
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