Now for the records, Rt. Hon. Luke has confirmed that even he himself is doing something personally to sustain the growth of the industry in the state. “I am working at training youths at least, at my constituency level. I have initiated a deal with State Innovation hub and,” he mentioned another tech company where he is partnering to train others in the repairs of Hospital Equipments while Start Innovation Hub will handle web development and Software Development for the young people. This was fantastic knowing that the Speaker is thinking our own way too. On my own I have designed my programs in techforest to include training of young people in the repairs and maintenance of various hospital equipment which are daily imported into the state. God willing, I hope to manufacture (duplicate) these machines using available resources in my locality like sand while I import the few other elements I cannot lay my hands on. So the speaker’s intention to train young people in this area was just re-echoing my thoughts. Positively speaking, the meeting was more than just a courtesy visit. It was the collection of like minds.
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Before then, I had intimated the speaker that “we will request the 6th Assembly to make laws that will facilitate the funding of tech StartUps in Akwa Ibom State by the Akwa Ibom State government. This can be initiated by assigning at least 20% of the annual budget for the ministry of Science and Technology to assist startups in the State. The said sum will be released quarterly to the tech communities and will be accessed by startups after an independent advisory committee comprising veterans from the business and investment sectors, professionals and academics have certified such startup fit for the fund. Releasing this seed fund to startups quarterly through a well-covered event by the media will help young startups in the state grow faster and then these startups will be able to access other funds outside the country as the community grows.”
So I was not surprise when the speaker while responding to my requests made references to the Governor’s endorsements of the proposals and AKEES. I believe if any government should succeed in any project or program, such schemes as AKEES and maybe committees should be introduced to help gear the project to a successful end than tying it to ministries whose officers will see such project as a fat cow that will give them milk for a long time while the program or project suffers.
Therefore when Governor Emmanuel announced his intention to industrialize the state and to raise entrepreneurs who will be able to create wealth at various levels, AKEES was indeed the right scheme at the right time. In my speech however, I had intentionally included giving 20% of the annual budget for the Ministry of Science and Technology to assist StartUps in the State. Therefore, the speaker mentioning AKEES as one of the channels by which tech startups can access these tech development funds was a confirmation that my proposals to the government was genuine and apt.
Another area of consideration while I put my speech together was the executive arm subscribing or endorsing these laws when they are passed by the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly. For instance to develop and improve the skills level I requested that the State House of Assembly “can make laws that will help corporations operating in Akwa Ibom State, government and her agencies give out these tech related contracts to Akwa Ibom State based tech companies. Where the required skills are not up to the required standard, such incoming contractor should partner with companies within the state for the execution of such projects. This will support and upgrade the skills level within the Akwa Ibom State tech ecosystem.” Of course the Honorable speaker confirmed that though he has the power to effect these laws with the help of his colleagues, there’s definitely a role the executive arm has to play for it to be implemented.
On the whole, for Akwa Ibom State tech ecosystem to develop beyond what we presently have, the state government should through reliable schemes like AKEES give seed funding and supports to tech startups based in the State. I cited Hong Kong as a reference point where HK$2 billion (US$256 million) fund to encourage investment in local innovation and technology start-ups, in an effort to boost new economic activity in Hong Kong. We pray Akwa Ibom State Government as one of the State led by a young experienced Director who knows the importance of the industry to the development of the economy will channel the needed resources through relevant schemes to help in the funding of Startups in the state. This will mark the beginning of tech innovations in the state and will surely encourage young people to invest their time in learning various skills that abound in the ecosystem. The best time to have planted a tree was 50 yrs ago, the second best time is now.