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Technology, innovation should be for public NOT for profit alone, says Osinbajo

Nigeria’s vice-president, Yemi Osinbajo has stated that technology and innovation should be for public good and solving societal problems as well as profit-making.

This was stated by Osinbajo at Afrilabs’ 10th anniversary dinner on Wednesday in Abuja.

According to the vice-president, governments in Africa must ensure that access to support programmes are transparent and merit-based and must work harder on providing cheap, patient capital.

“For its own part, the ecosystem must work with government to determine the parameters of access to these programmes,” he said.

“Tech holds the power to create gigantic commercial ventures with huge returns but the fullness of the transformative and revolutionary potential of the ecosystem will be achieved when we address issues of the public good.

“This means bringing our capacity for innovation upon our big developmental challenges such as social security, financial inclusion and access to healthcare.

“And while we pursue this and begin to experience the power of tech to transform lives, we must also concern ourselves with issues of ethics and oversight.’’

He said there is a need for positive action, proactive and intentional policies by governments in Africa to create an environment for startups and technology-based enterprises to thrive.

Osinbajo said in Nigeria, considerable progress had been made in supporting innovation through the enactment of the Nigerian Start-Up Act.

“This is following the example of similar legislation enacted in Tunisia and South Africa. But as I had indicated earlier, our effort as governments across Africa have barely scratched the surface of the tremendous potentials available,” he said.

“Most innovators and startups are still unable to access cheap capital locally; many complain that the processes for obtaining financial support ought to be easier and more transparent.

“There is also still a need to train more and develop more useful digital skills on the scale.

“Third is the huge opportunity opened up by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). The objective of the AfCFTA is to make Africa the largest single, seamless trading bloc in the world.

“The opportunities for tech and innovation to build synergies across borders and create African tech giants are obvious. But even now our fintech and e-commerce companies can extend their reach, as they will be able to partner with other regional and international fintechs to facilitate payments and make digital cross border remittances.

“The bright and prosperous future for Africa beckons; you all are the great titans that will take us there; we are all extremely proud of you and the work you do.”

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