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The Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Abdullahi, has tasked Nigerian startups to prepare for more innovative ideas while the world is fighting the COVID-19 pandemic which is ravaging the global economy.

The DG made this call on Thursday while addressing participants via video conferencing during a ‘Virtual Demo Day: COVID-19 Innovation Challenge’ organised by Venture Platform Hub.

According to the DG, COVID-19 is going to change the entire technology and economic activities in the world, and industries around the globe will be disrupted with many innovations.

Mr Abdullahi said COVID-19 has made a significant impact on digital technology and there is need for Nigerian StartUps to be on alert because the change is inevitable.

“Things are not going to be the same after the pandemic. The world economic order is going to change. A lot of industries are going to be disrupted. Startups should be ready to embrace the inevitable change,” he said.

The DG said that, “as at January this year, the global market valuation of unicorns is more than $2 trillion. I said Uuicorns, means a privately owned company worth $1 billion or more. Once a company has gone public (IPO) or has been acquired, it is no longer termed as a unicorn. I believe you can grow your startups to become a unicorn.”

“You can grow your startup to become a unicorn within short period by following the playbook successful startups had followed. It is a 3 simple rules; firstly, they begin with a plan to disrupt an existing industry; secondly, they inject capital to grow as rapidly as possible and; thirdly they tolerate high risk in a rush to conquer and dominate market segment.

“As Africans, our young and digitally native population is a competitive advantage. In addition, our market is still untapped. There are 615 unicorns in the world, 43% is in the USA (265), 33% in China (204) only 3 unicorns are in Africa; two in South Africa and one in Nigeria.”

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He said the health and pharmaceuticals sector is the number 7 in global unicorn market valuation. It is worth around $99.11 billion, and COVID-19 is going to widen the market share, and it is an opportunity for startups to create and capture value from the pandemic, he said.

Mr Abdullahi said, “Nigeria’s startup landscape has been slowly coming of age with innovative and entrepreneurial ideas. As the startup numbers flourished over the last few years, so does the need for bigger investors and venture capitalists.”

He also urged the Startups to turn the COVID-19 frustration into delight by coming up with innovative ideas that can create value for them and Nigeria in general, as well partner with the Federal Government and Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy under the leadership of Isa Ali who is levelling the playing field for startups to thrive.

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