By Emma Okonji
Nigeria and the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), organisers of the annual GITEX Technology Week in Dubai, have collaborated to better expose the country’s information and communications technology (ICT) startups featuring at this year’s GITEX that is billed to hold in October.
Nigeria’s participation at the GITEX Startup Movement is being facilitated by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
About 16 startups from Nigeria will be joining over 400 startups and more than 1,000 entrepreneurs, investors and mentors from the global startup ecosystem at this year’s GITEX.
$100, 000 has been set aside by the organisers, which will go to the winning startups, but others startups have the opportunity to pitch for deals from the numerous investors attending the event.
The GITEX Startup Movement is being driven by the DWTC as the ‘exclusive set-up’ that will highlight the most innovative startups around the world. DWTC will provide them a platform to sell, form partnerships and attract investors. Participants will also be able to pitch for prizes, attend interactive conference to address challenges faced by entrepreneurs and meet leading industry figures.
The initiative has already garnered tremendous interest and momentum from supporters across the globe including Business France, Cross Trade Agency in Singapore, Digi Robotics in the UAE, Egypt’s Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA), Japan’s Jetro Agency, Marco Trade Export in Morocco, Star Systems Agency in Iran and STC from KSA.
Following a meeting at the World Trade Centre in Dubai, UAE, Nigeria was announced as a participating country to join top contenders like Japan, France, Egypt, Morocco and Iran among others. NITDA’s officials were led by its acting Director General, Dr. Vincent Olatunji at the meeting. In the delegation, were acting Director of Finance, Ibrahim Umar Ede; Head of Corporate Communication, Hajia Hadiza Umar; and Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Femi Adeluyi. Others were Messrs. Akande Ojo of Pinnacle Consulting International LLC and Segun Oruame of Knowhow Media International.
The Nigerian startups which will be representing the country were selected following a rigorous process in which evaluators had to assess more than 369 entries from 32 states across the country. Nine entries were received from other countries. The selection process was carried out by the Office for ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIIE), a subsidiary of NITDA with the responsibilities to nurture, cultivate and expand ICT innovation.
A member of the Exhibition and Event Management sector of the DWTC, Ridah El Awad, during the meeting with NITDA, said part of the criteria to be used for participating startups at the GITEX Startup Movement, would include young and upcoming startups that must be under five years in operation, and startup that had not received over $1 million in total funding.
According to the organisers, the judges would be looking for certain features like creativity, originality of idea, in order to determine if their solutions/products are similar to existing known solution.
Others features include potentiality, functionality, goodness, team work, among others. In the area of potentiality, the judges will consider longevity, actualisation and profitability of the solution. In functionality, the judges will consider usability of interface and also find out if there is a major problem the startup technology solution is solving within or out of Nigeria or its immediate environment. Goodness as a feature, will look at how the product/service impact or improves the world. For team work, the judges will look at the drivers of the solution and whether they have the team spirit to make the startup a successful enterprise. The assessment will also consider whether the GITEX Startup Movement is the first technology show/pitch competition that the startups are participating in.
Speaking on the level of preparation, Olatunji said “Nigeria is committed to promoting startups. It has even become more strategic as the country seeks to aggressively re-engineer its economy and earn foreign exchange from non-oil sectors. We are participating in the GITEX Startup Movement to expose our own startups and see how they can leverage on the event to improve their entrepreneurship. At NITDA, we believe that our youths have the wherewithal to excel anywhere in the world. What is needed is to build capacity in them and also give them exposure. We are glad to be working with the startups to gain these benefits.”