For the first time, since it launched, the Gulf Information Technology Exhibition (GITEX), held a pitch tournament in Lagos at the Eko Innovation Centre, the second of 13 roadshows across Sub-Saharan countries.
Organised by the Dubai Work Trade Centre and the North Star, GITEX is a pitch competition for startups in the tech space.
In previous years, participants would have had to travel to Dubai to compete in the tournament for a chance to win $200,000 in funding and a mentorship prize. But this year, GITEX, in partnership with the Lagos government and the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), organised the event to Lagos.
With the roadshows, GITEX gives an opportunity to more startups to showcase their products. In Lagos, over 27 startups participated yesterday.
The director of Corporate Planning and Strategy for NITDA, Dr Aristotle Onumo said of the decision to bring it to Nigeria that it was an important move to help young startup founders gain needed visibility to scale up their products.
“GITEX is a platform through which we expose our startups to gain the right kind of visibility and right kind of traction so that they would be able to attract investors which is one of the pillars driving our strategic road map and action plan 2021 to 2024,” Onus said.
He added that this was only one of many programs that NITDA was putting together to improve the ecosystem.
Akande Ojo, the Country Representative of the Dubai World Trade Centre and the Chief Executive Officer of Pinnacle Consulting, said that the idea of bringing the event to Nigeria and across Sub-Saharan countries was to create a customised platform for startups across Africa adding that in his experience many of the global events are focused on Africa.
“My experience is that when we go for any events we are not part of the discussion. And, so we decided that going forward, we have an African focus. So, they can bring them even closer and customised to Sub-Saharan African countries,” he said.
“We are having about 13 roadshows in Africa including Nigeria. The idea is that many of our startups are talented but do not have the bridge to connect with, because they do not have the resources. So the only thing it costs them is to come here at the Eko Innovation Centre where we give opportunities to everyone.”
Tunbosun Alake, the Special Adviser to the Lagos Government on Innovation and Technology, speaking to the press, said that the event held in Lagos would bode well for startups in the state. They will be meeting with foreign investors seeking startups to inject their funds.
“The idea is to give opportunities to our startup’s ecosystem players,” he said. “We want better access to markets; to foreign and local markets for our startups. This bodes well for startups that are Lagos based because they are able to increase their revenue base.”
The Director (Commercial Event Management) of North Star, Zarko Ackovik said that this would be instrumental for African startups to display their investment opportunities that will spur much-needed expansion.
“Nigeria has the largest startup ecosystem in the whole of Africa, but we do not see too much of African and Nigerian startups to the region to explore the investment opportunities there, to expand. So instead of sitting over there, we decided to come here and to offer opportunities to startups to experience what the region offers and what the show actually brings for them,” he said.
“The show brings to them about 400 plus investors they can meet and network with, in the event. It gives them the opportunity to go for a pitch competition. We give away cash prize money of over $200,000 to the best startups. It is not just to compete. But other exposure comes with a lot of media as well. There are quite talented people here.”
The GITEX Dubai exhibition is slated for October.
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