By Mmaduabuchi Onwumelu
Anambra State Government has restated its commitment to supporting the streamlining of the state governance systems for greater efficiency, through development of frameworks, laws and procedures.
The State Deputy Governor, Dr. Ifeanyichukwu Ibezim made the disclosure during a forum to kick off a two-day stakeholders’ engagement on the domestication of the Nigerian Start-Up Act in Anambra State, held in Awka.
Dr. Ibezim re-echoed the dedication of the Chukwuma Soludo-led administration, to making Anambra a technology hub, adding that with the disruptive changes the governor is introducing to the state governance, anyone who fails to keep pace, will be left behind.
He praised the collaboration between the government and partners supporting startups, emphasizing the importance of a tech-driven administration, a promise kept by Governor Soludo’s administration.
He said; “You all seated in this room are the gold we have; we are not looking elsewhere. The journey has just begun and I encourage you to deliberate and chart the course forward for a better Anambra.”
The MD/CEO of Anambra State ICT Agency, Chukwuemeka Fred Agbata, in his goodwill message, posited that the stakeholders’ engagement was imperative to ensure that the Act meets the peculiarities of the state and does not just stand as an imposition of a national law.
He de-emphasized the notion of a one-size-fits-all approach to the Nigeria Startup Act, highlighting Anambra’s unique strengths in commerce and trade.
Citing instances with successful ecosystems worldwide and in Lagos on a national level, he attested to Governor Soludo’s commitment to laying the groundwork for innovation through the installation of high-speed broadband internet and the ongoing deployment of fibre cables across the state.
“Innovation lies in the private sector while the government will come up with policies”, he said, urging the ecosystem stakeholders to take charge.
He emphasized that, similar to global trends with OpenAI 4.0 and Google’s Gemini, the private sector should not wait for government intervention but should proactively drive the agenda for a thriving tech ecosystem, with the government playing catch-up.
Describing the Nigeria Startup Act as a co-created legislation emerging from the intersection of displacement and disruption, Mrs. Tracy Okoro Isaac, the State Adoption Lead for the Nigeria Startup Act, reminded the stakeholders that the engagement was history in the making.
She quipped; “In 10 years, you will fondly recall being part of the group that collaborated to establish an ecosystem capable of nurturing Anambra’s unicorns.”
Mrs. Okoro-Isaac disclosed that the Act is hinged on four pillars- funding, human development /capacity building, and infrastructure (both software and hardware, internet connection), adding that the Act aims to ensure accessibility and prevent unnecessary migration by fostering innovation, underscoring the Act’s importance for establishing accountability and responsibility, providing concise regulations with clearly defined roles.
She highlighted the success stories of local entrepreneurs, such as those behind Flutterwave and Paystack, who built their startups independent of significant government support, urging attendees to envision the possibilities of creating a united ecosystem that supports startups collectively.
Expressing satisfaction with Governor Soludo’s commitment to innovation, Mrs. Isaac stated that participants were there to contribute to creating a modular startup law that would shape Anambra’s future.
The convener of the session and Special Adviser to the Governor on Innovation and Business Incubation, Ms. Chinwe Okoli, described the session as more than a legal formality, asserting that it is a profound statement of intent to propel Anambra into a hub of innovation.
“We are fortunate to have a governor who comprehends the transformative influence of technology, setting the groundwork for a state driven by innovation. Our purpose here, therefore, is to participate in this game-changing initiative which is a catalyst for growth and a blueprint shaping the future of our dear state”, she added.
On her part, the Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning underscored the importance of sustainability, urging stakeholders to safeguard the integrity of the startup ecosystem.
Emphasizing the need to protect both investors and investments, her remarks set the tone for a session that sought not only to embrace change but to ensure its lasting impact.
For the MD of ANSIPPA, Mr. Mark Okoye, stakeholders must commit to actualizing the potentials of the numerous state government’s infrastructure efforts.
The State Chairman of the Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, NASME, Chinemerem Oguegbe, lamented the current lack of structure and synergy in the ecosystem as it were while advocating for a more organized approach to attract opportunities.
“The ecosystem in Anambra state is quite different but we are not organized as entrepreneurs nor structured to attract opportunities. Let us look for ways to import IT and tech into our businesses,” he urged.
The Dean, Faculty of Physical Sciences, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Prof. K.K.Nwozor, while transitioning to the crux of the matter, acknowledged the need for mentorship beyond youth-focused initiatives and highlighted the untapped potential within Anambra’s universities.
He however applauded Mr. Governor’s appointment of Prof. Kate Omenugha as the Acting Vice-chancellor of the university, describing it as one that will further support the technology drive in the state.
Mr. Dilibe Chinweze, representing hub owners, echoed the call for synergy, emphasizing the importance of investing locally.
As the event concluded, the overarching message was clear – Anambra State is on the brink of a technological revolution and the ICT Agency MD’s impassioned call to stakeholders, amongst other voices, echo as a rallying cry for the private sector to seize the opportunity, taking the lead in shaping a future where Anambra’s innovation ecosystem thrives on its own terms.
The event also featured a presentation on understanding and leveraging the opportunities of the Nigeria Startup Act by Mrs. Okoro Tracy, along with a Startup Pitch Competition with prizes presented by ANSIPPA, SID, and partner, VFD group.
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