The Anambra State Governor, Charles Chukwuma Soludo, has announced the appointment of Chukwuemeka Fred Agbata as the MD/CEO of the Anambra State ICT Agency for a four-year tenure.
Throughout his tenure, Agbata will be expected to use his experience to help the government achieve its plans of building a mega-city. This will include expanding broadband access, digitising government services, and supporting technology startups in the state.
Agbata brings over a decade of experience working in the technology sector in different roles in the media and startup space, experience that he believes will serve him as he begins a new chapter.
Speaking to Techpoint Africa on how his past will help him in his new role, Agbata said, “With my industry experience, I will be able to quickly launch new programs, attract the right partners, strengthen the tech and developer communities, organise programmes and meetups, and tons of other initiatives and activities that will benefit both Anambra State and Nigeria.”
Agbata’s mandate will tie neatly into the state government’s mission to make Anambra the digital and creative capital of Nigeria. Through the Soludo Solution, the state plans to train and support up to 10,000 youth annually while setting up a five billion venture capital fund to incubate and provide growth capital for startups.
Much of the growth in Nigeria’s tech sector has been seen in Lagos State. However, growth in the industry needs to be spread across more cities if the country’s unemployment rate is to be reduced.
With ICT’s growing contribution to the country’s GDP, some states have taken steps to take advantage of this trend.
In 2020, the Edo State Government launched the Edo Innovation Hub. The hub provides a place for state residents to convene and potentially build technological products.
Last year, it inaugurated a board with Victor Asemota, SwiftaCorp Co-founder as its chairman; and Oswald Guobadia, Senior Special Assistant to the Nigerian President on Digital Transformation, as a member.
Already, the state has partnered with tech talent accelerator, Decagon in a project that plans to train 15,000 residents of the state in software development and is an attempt to follow and potentially leapfrog Lagos State as a top destination for technological innovation.
One factor that has aided the rise of Lagos as a tech hub is the existing infrastructure absent in most states in the country.
According to data from the National Bureau of Statistics, the South Eastern region of Nigeria, where Anambra State is, has the lowest Internet penetration rates, with 13.7 million users.
Increasing the number of residents connected to the Internet will be vital in achieving the government’s goals. Already, the previous government has set the ball rolling by waiving the right-of-way charges for telcos in the state, paving the way for the new government to build on it.
In Agbata’s experience and Soludo’s previous experience as a Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the state could become a digital powerhouse.