NITDA, Lagos commend sponsors as winners emerge for Gitex’s $200,000 price start-up talent show

  • Founder, Eko Innovation Centre, Victor Afolabi (left), Special Adviser to Lagos State on Innovation and Technology, Tunbosun Alake, Head of Visa and Attestation, UAE Consulate in Lagos, Abdulla Alqahtani, Head, Corporate Planning and Strategy, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Dr. Aristotle Onomo, Executive Secretary, UAE Consulate in Lagos, Fatine Laaroussi Tribek, Dubai World Trade Centre Sales Manager/Government Liaison, Hamad Almansoori, Director, Commercial Events Management, Dubai World Trade Centre, Zarko Ackovik,  and Country Representative of the Dubai World Trade Centre, Akande Ojo, during the GITEX Global Lagos pitch event at the Eko Innovation Centre…Thursday

By Anthony Nwachukwu

Two Nigerian technology start-ups, Paddy Cover and Pricepally.com, have won the Lagos qualifiers for the Dubai World Trade Centre’s $200,000, while TruQ emerged the EIC and Lagos State winner.

The insuretech firm, Paddy Cover, co-founded by Mayowa Owolabi and Tobi Obasa, and the food sourcing and distribution tech firm, Pricepally, owned by Luther Lawoyin, as well as TruQ, owned by Williams Fatayo, beat 24 other contestants who pitched their ideas before six judges Thursday.

The two winners will go on an all-expense paid trip to the Dubai World Trade Centre in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) in October to pitch their idea to over 400 investors and thousands of technology ecosystem players at the GITEX 2022 exhibition for a chance to win $200,000.

During the five-day business show, they will also enjoy mentorship and networking with world technology business leaders.

The Africa roadshow was organised by Gitex Global and sponsored by Dubai North Star, which represents the UAE Government, and partnered locally by the Lagos State Government and the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).

Addressing newsmen at the event, the Head, Corporate Planning and Strategy, NITDA, Dr. Aristotle Onomo, said the programme was “a platform to expose our start-ups to gain the right visibility, traction; be able to attract investors.”

Onome, who represented the NITDA director-general, said the agency was passionate about start-ups, innovations, and was trying to catalyse the entire ecosystem in order to drive digital economy in Nigeria.

“As regards this particular programme, the North Star is trying to take advantage of the programme to expose our start-ups, while NITDA is partnering Gitex,” he noted.

“What is happening now will happen in Dubai, but the Dubai World Trade Centre and the Dubai Government is represented here today.

“They have come to Nigeria to be able to harness the innovative skills already within Nigeria to start early marketing of the two to be selected and connecting them with various investors across the globe, so that even before they get to Gitex proper, they would have had a kind of visibility.”

Similarly, the Special Adviser to Lagos State Governor on Innovation and Technology, Tumbosun Alake, said “the initiative was meant “to give opportunities to our ecosystem start-ups with better access to local and foreign markets.

“At the same time, Dubai and Gintex are keen to be part of the start-up ecosystem in Lagos. This initiative is for us to explore opportunities together, so the finalists will be participating in the North Star programme in Dubai in October, and we hope they are able to get more international investors and access to the UAE market.”

According to him, “the number one objective is to grow our ecosystem; in terms of accelerating the state as a tech hub, it gives us more recognition globally because of our partners in the UAE.

“If the UAE is here, it is a signal to other partners across the globe. It also helps our start-ups here to get access to their market internationally and with that they can expand their revenue base.”

Explaining the Africa roadshow, the Director, Commercial Events Management, Dubai World Trade Centre, Zarko Ackovik, said the organisers “recognize that Nigeria obviously has the largest ecosystem in the whole Africa.”

However, “we don’t see too much of African and Nigerian start-ups coming up for expansion, so instead of just sitting there, we decided to come to the region to offer the opportunity for the start-ups.

“The show brings them the opportunity to network, to go into competition, the $200,000 cash price money and the opportunity to take their start-ups there.

“It is not just to compete and meet investors but also the exposure comes with a lot of the big media as well, and they create partnerships and networks, because the show brings 700 start-ups from over 60 countries, and investors coming from all over the world as well. So, it is a great opportunity because Gitex brings a lot of people to the event over five days.”

Meanwhile, Akande Ojo of the United States-based Pinnacle International Consulting – country representative of Dubai World Trade Centre, said it would be African focus, Nigerian focus going forward.

“A winner gets accommodation, space as a start-up to showcase yourself, they engage with investors, because technically you are part of their programme,” he explained.

“This is the first time we are dealing with them to ensure that they can bring the event close to sub-Saharan Africa – Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, among others.

“The idea is that many of our start-ups are talented but they don’t have that bridge to connect with, because they don’t have the resources. So, they bring it close to you, we try to see the real talent, so the only thing it costs you is your car fare to come here, not flying to Dubai.

“Eventually, they will pick the top two (each) from Lagos and Abuja to be fully sponsored, and the rest the Lagos Government initiative – the Eco Innovation Centre, and NITDA can also support.

“The idea is just to allow more tech-preneuers to create more jobs and in return increase the foreign direct investment.”

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