The Inaugural Anambra Stakeholders Innovation Summit (AISS), Nigeria’s foremost innovation conversation platform made its debut on Wednesday, July 28th, 2021 bringing together stakeholders in government, public policy, business, finance, academia, and technology space across Nigeria and the Diaspora. The summit was hosted by the Anambra State Information and Communication Technology Agency (ANSICTA) and organized by Dragon Africa.
The Deputy Governor of Anambra State H.E. Dr. Nkem Okeke opened the summit and welcomed all participants and informed them that Anambra had waived the right of way fee and was focused on bringing the state online. Theo Manafa, MD ANSICTA welcomed everyone to the summit and delivered his roadmap This was followed by the Director-General of NITDA Mallam Inuwa Kashifu Abdullahi represented by the Director IT Infrastructure Solutions, Dr.Usman Abdullahi who reinstated the Federal Government commitment towards the digital economy when he mentioned that “We recently unveiled our Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP) 2021-2024, which is targeted at driving programs and initiatives to achieve the objectives of the NDEPS. It is anchored on 7 pillars namely; Developmental Regulation; Digital Literacy and Skills; Digital Transformation; Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Cybersecurity; Emerging Technologies; and Promotion of Indigenous Content.”
The keynote speaker Tomi Davies (President of the Africa Business Angel Network) in his address titled “Where is the Money? How Technology And Innovation Can Transform Anambra State”; noted that “Anambra must adopt the art of the possible. The global technology industry is currently heading to a Trillion Dollar software economy and the money is in building businesses that are technology-enabled or technology-driven”. Mr. Daviesspelled out a detailed roadmap that will make Anambra a global leader which was very well received.
This set the tone for the panel conversations which comprised 5 panels discussing innovative solutions from reinventing education, incubating start-ups, fundraising, to building digital solutions, enabling public-private partnerships, and building a business case for Anambra. On the first panel there was a robust exchange from leaders Valentine Obi, Founder and Group CEO of E-Tranzact Global; Chizor Malize, CEO of Financial Institutions Training Center (FITC); the representative of the DG NITDA, Dr.
Usman Abdullahi, and Nkem Nweke PM Engineering with Microsoft. All the panelists agreed that the conversation is needed and we need to engage the industrialists so they can see in tangible terms the benefits of the digital economy.
David Onu CEO of Interra Networksled the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) panel and made several key points followed by a robust conversation with Charles Emembolu, Ceo Crestsage Tech a leading technology provider, Chike Maduekwe Special Adviser to the Anambra State Governor on Digital Economy, and Hon Meekam Mgbenwelu former Commissioner of ICT in Imo State and Microsoft Africa alumni, the panel concluded that there needed to be easier ways for a business to engage Government at all levels. The need for PPP was agreed by all parties but there is also a recognition that PPP is about building trust.
The crisis in education in Nigeria was masterfully deconstructed by Chinenye Mba-Uzoukwu as he explained the imperatives of education reform. This was followed by a passionate and robust panel conversation and key contributions of Chika Nwobi (founder Decagon) who explained Decagon’s business model, the business of jobs, and his partnership with the Edo State Government. Uche OnwuamaegbuUgwu brought it home to the practical level of school adoption by Private Sector players and volunteerism, the urgent need to change our approach to education was highlighted by all panelists.
Nneka Ukay, Executive Secretary of ISN Hubs, the largest hubs network with over 120 hubs in Nigeria, gave a detailed roadmap as to how to build a hub network in Anambra and the South East, in this regard Danial Chinagozi, Founder of Innovation Growth Hub; Uche Aniche, Founder StartupSouth; and Favour Chukwuedo of Ado Business Incubation Center all spoke to the need for Government to listen to ecosystem leaders on the dynamics and needs of the environment and how to build and scale enterprises.
In the business case for Anambra panel moderated by Ify Malo of CleanTechnology Hub; Jide Ikeako (MD ANSIPPA – the Anambra Investment Promotion Agency and One Stop Shop) noted that Anambra is open for business and has incorporated a one-stop-shop for all investors, it is also one of the first States in Nigeria to offer a free right of way to mobile telecommunications companies.” Ijeoma Taylaur ED of Alpha Alliance Advisory; Don Ebubeogu (a former Chairman of the Onitsha Chamber of Commerce and MD Tiger Foods) and Cheta Nwanze of SBM Intelligence found themselves agreeing on the key steps to take and how to motivate capital and finance into the state. The role of educating investors and destination marketing was also raised in this panel.
In the closing dialogue between Obi Asika (AISS Convener and Founder, Dragon Africa) and Titi Akinsanmi Head Government Affairs and Public Policy (GAPP) West and Francophone Africa at Google; Titi noted that we have to be intentional in our storytelling and narratives to attract needed investments and reminded us to incorporate the Female gender in all our plans.
Obi Asika noted that his key takeaways were the urgent need for educational reform, the clear need to make Anambra and the Region more discoverable, promote destination marketing and push all States to invest in their brands. In order to attract investment, investors have to be aware of your opportunity and Anambra has many assets and stories it needs to share and engage. The summit was fortunate to
have Michael Orekyeh (COO of ANSICTA) as the summit MC to keep the day moving and manage all the speakers and panelists.
The vote of thanks was by Mr. Theo Manafa, MD/CEO of ANSICTA after a wonderful full-day session of high-level policy discussions focused on how to unlock the opportunities that the digital economy can bring.
Keep your eyes on Anambra as a frontier of growth and diversity in technology because creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation has been home there for decades.