GITEX 2022: NITDA and Lagos State Government Unveil Nigerian Tech Startups at Eko Innovation Center

Chiamaka Ozulumba

Two Nigerian tech start-ups, Paddy Cover and won the Dubai World Trade Center $200,000 talent competition in Lagos, while TruQ emerged victorious from EIC and Lagos State.

The insuretech company, Paddy Cover, co-founded by Mayowa Owolabi and Tobi Obasa, and the food supply and distribution technology company, Pricepally, owned by Luther Lawoyin, as well as TruQ, owned by Williams Fatayo, beat 24 other candidates who pitched their ideas in front of six judges.

The two winners will set off on an all-expenses-paid trip to Dubai to pitch their idea to over 400 investors and thousands of tech ecosystem players at the GITEX 2022 Expo for a chance to win $200,000.

They will all converge at the Dubai World Trade Center in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) in October for the five-day trade show, mentoring and networking with global technology business leaders.

The Gulf Information Technology Exhibition (GITEX) is an annual IT and consumer electronics trade show and conference held in Dubai at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

GITEX is one of the world’s most influential meeting places for the tech industry, bringing together thought leaders, creators, innovators and more.

The African Roadshow is organized by GITEX Global and sponsored by Dubai North Star, representing the Government of the United Arab Emirates, and in local partnership with the Lagos State Government and the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).

The judges for the event were: Akeem Hassan, TA of the Governor’s Special Advisor for Innovation and Technology, Segun Cole, Co-Founder of Fund the Gap Alliance, Amos Udok, NITDA Representative, Ireayo Oladunjoye, Head, Startups Lagos State Employment Trust funds, Oguntade Adeseye, Head of Unit, Innovation and Entrepreneurship ONDI, and Olorunnisomo Olaoluwa Co-Founder, Seedbuilders Innovation and Foundation.

Speaking to reporters at the Eko Innovation Centre, the Director General (CEO) of the Nigerian Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi pledged not to let up on his support for young people Nigerians with start-ups in various forms to catalyze the whole eco-system towards building a digital economy.

Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi made the revelation Thursday at the Eko Innovation Center in Lagos through his Head of Corporate Planning and Strategy, Dr. Aristotle Onumo who represented him at the presentation of day by no less than 27 start-ups.

“In terms of this particular program, the North Star is trying to take advantage of the program to expose our start-ups, while NITDA is partnering with GITEX.

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

They came to Nigeria so that they could harness the innovative skills already present in Nigeria to begin early commercialization of the two to be selected and connect them with various investors around the world so that even before they got to GITEX proper, they would have had some kind of visibility.

Similarly, the Lagos State Governor’s Special Advisor for Innovation and Technology, Tumbosun Alake, said that “the initiative is” to provide opportunities for start-ups in our ecosystem with better access to local and foreign markets.

“At the same time, Dubai and GITEX want to be part of the start-up ecosystem in Lagos.

“This initiative allows us to explore opportunities together. The finalists will therefore participate in the North Star program in Dubai in October, and we hope that they can attract more international investors and access the UAE market.”

According to him, “the number one goal is to grow our ecosystem” and “in terms of accelerating the state as a tech hub, this gives us more recognition globally through our partners in the UAE.

“If the UAE is there, it is a signal for other partners around the world. It also helps our start-ups here to access their international market and with this, they can expand their revenue base.

Explaining the Africa roadshow, Dubai World Trade Center director of trade events management Zarko Ackovik said the organizers “recognize that Nigeria obviously has the largest ecosystem in all of Africa.”

However, “we don’t see too many African and Nigerian start-ups growing, so instead of sitting there, we decided to come to the region to provide the opportunity for start-ups.

“The show offers them the opportunity to network, participate in competitions, the cash prize of $200,000 and the opportunity to take their start-ups there.

“It’s not just to compete and meet investors, but also the exhibition comes with a lot of big media too, and they create partnerships and networks because the show brings together 700 start-ups from more than 60 countries, and investors from all over the world too.

Also speaking, Akande Ojo of US-based Pinnacle International Consulting – Country Representative Dubai World Trade Center explained that they have decided to focus on Africa and Nigeria in the future.

“A winner gets housing, a space as a start-up to pitch, they engage with investors, because technically you’re part of their program,” he noted.

From left to right: Mr. Akande Ojo, National Representative of the Dubai World Trade Centre; Mr. Mayowa Owolabi, CEO of Paddycover limited and winner of the GITEX Global Lagos pitch event; Mr. Luther Lawoyin, CEO pricepally and 1st runner-up of the GITEX Global Lagos pitch event; Mr. Tunbosun Alake, Special Advisor to the Lagos State Government on Innovation and Technology; Mr. Tobi Obasa, Co-Founder of Paddycover Limited and Mr. Victor Afolabi, Founder of Eko Innovation Center during the GITEX Global Lagos Pitch Event held at Eko Innovation Center

“It’s the first time we’ve been dealing with them to make sure they can bring the event closer to sub-Saharan Africa – Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, among others,” he revealed.

“The idea is that a lot 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 you closer, we try to see the real talent, so the only thing it costs you is your car to come here, not the plane to Dubai.

“Eventually, they will choose the first two from Lagos and Abuja to be fully sponsored, and the rest of the Lagos government initiative – Eko Innovation Center and NITDA can also support.

“The idea is simply to enable more tech entrepreneurs to create more jobs and, in turn, increase foreign direct investment.”

Photo caption

(Left-Right): Mr. Victor Afolabi, founder of the Eko Innovation center; Mr. Tunbosun Alake, Special Advisor to the Lagos State Government on Innovation and Technology; Mr. Abdulla Alqahtani, Head of Visa and Attestation Section, UAE Consulate in Lagos; Dr. Aristotle, Director of Corporate Research Strategy, Dubai World Trade Centre; Ms. Fatine Laaroussi Tribek, Executive Secretary of the United Arab Emirates Consulate in Lagos; Mr. Hamad Almansoori, Dubai World Trade Centre, Sales Manager – Government Liaison; Mr. Zarko Ackovik, Director of Trade Events Management, Dubai World Trade Center and Mr. Akande O

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