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The Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) has drawn its maiden NSIA Prize for Innovation Programme (NIP) to an end with three startups winning big after a successful pitch competition among 10 finalists.

The $255,000 NSIA Prize for Innovation aims to support innovators, technopreneurs, and start-ups in technology-enabled businesses across various sectors of the economy with the potential to drive economic growth, create jobs, and yield other positive economic and social outcomes.

MoneyAfrica , a Nigerian-based Edtech startup was announced winner of the competition with a reward of $25,000. Similarly, Extension Africa emerged the first runner up of the competition, while LegitCar Africa was the second runner-up with each winning $17, 500 and $12, 500 respectively.

However, other finalist who also made it to the finals was rewarded with $5,000 each.The startups are Truq, Capsa, YA-LO, CreditChek, Vella, Kobo Pay and Space technology solution.

Aminu Umar-Sadiq, chief executive officer of NSIA, said the objective of the programme is to identify, build and finance early stage innovative solutions that have the potential to catalyse economic growth, advance solutions to social issues and create jobs.

He added that the impact of the programme is beyond the prices as it goes a long way to make Nigerian startups ecosystem popular and open funding opportunities.

” Although this programme rewards winners with the sum of $255,000, the real impact extends beyond the cash awards or event. Our core strategy of attracting third party capital will result in many of these many innovators security funding from financiers far and wide. NSIA has demonstrated it’s ability to crowd-in incremental capital from global funding partners to address infrastructure needs across sectors,”Umar-Sadiq said.

Kashifu Inuwa, director general, National Information Technology Development Agency, speaking at the event said, “innovation is the heartbeat of progress and the key to unlocking Nigerias fullest potential as a nation.”

Inuwa added that Africa need to do more with it’s young population in terms of innovation to meet up with global peers.

He said, “The global innovation ecosystem is worth more than $5 trillionWith over 1400 unicorn startups valued at over $4.5 trillion but in Africa, we are tapping only 0.5 percent percent of this value. Last year the ecosystem raised $626 billion in funding but Africa got only 3.3 percent which is about 0.5 percent of that amount

“Looking at our potentials as a continent with the youngest population and also representing almost 18 percent of the global population, we have a lot to do.”

Meanwhile, Oluwatosin Olaseinde, founder of MoneyAfrica, which emerge winner of the competition expressed delight at the milestone, noting that the fund will go a long way for the company and help their expansion plan.

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