FG sets committee to support tech start-ups with affordable internet access amid lockdown

Federal Government has set up a committee to select some tech start-ups that could partake in essential services during lockdown across major cities in the country. This was disclosed by the Chairman of the committee, Tomi Davies, who is also President of the African Business Angels Network (ABAN).

In an exclusive interview, Davies explained that the government is planning to intervene in the operation of tech startups struggling amidst Coronavirus outbreak.

According to him, the special project was kick-started by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), an agency that develops and regulates information technology in Nigeria. The plan is to identify tech startups that could partake in essential services during the restriction.

In order to avoid the shutdown of tech startups that could come in handy amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, NITDA announced that tech startups should apply to be among a compiled list of startups whose operation won’t be affected by the lockdown, for permits to be issued.

The Davies led-committee was formed to advise the government on the intervention measure. It comprises several tech founders like Amal Hassan, CEO of Outsource Global; Bosun Tijani, CEO of CCHub; Juliet Anammah, Head of International Affairs, Jumia Group; Kola Aina, and Founder of Ventures Platform; Musa Ali Baba.

Others in the group include  CEO of Teasy Pay; Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, CoFounder of Andela and Flutterwave; Collins Onuegbu, CEO of Signal Alliance; and Dr Kalli Zannah, Special Assistant to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.

The committee has already submitted its report, and according to Davies, is hoping the government will act fast on its recommendations.

“@NITDANigeria asked for a report within 48 hours. We delivered jokingly requesting government do likewise with our recommendations. @KashifuInuwa took us up on and work‘s started with @bosuntijani @kola_aina @DrSamboMagaji & others on #TECH4COVID19,” Davies tweeted in response to NITDA.

Davies told Nairametrics that the committee was tasked to devise and develop “suitable strategies for the provision of affordable Internet access and alternative power to individuals and businesses in the technology industry who now need to work from home.

“A framework to facilitate access to financing for technology and technology enabled ventures through the crisis; modalities for encouraging the development and adoption of programs and policies to support digital technology from the Nigerian technology ecosystem.

“This is in line with the ‘Work From Home’ directives of the Federal Government, and a support program for Innovation Hubs to facilitate virtual access to resources by startups during the work from home period as well as other forms of support the hubs may require to be sustainable through the COVID 19 Crisis.”

The committee, which began brainstorming on April 1same day of inaugurationsubmitted its report on April 3. According to Davies, four subcommittees were formed from the advisory committee, with members assigned to address Business Continuity, Funding, Policy, and Hubs.

“The results of these teams’ deliberations and documentation has been aggregated into a confidential report by the Chairman and Secretary who have also continuously engaged with the various technology stakeholder groups available to identify other critical challenges and devise appropriate resolution approaches.

“The report was submitted to the DG on Friday, 3rd April and implementation of some of our recommendations has already starte,” Davies added.

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