The Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs Omobola Johnson in Lagos on Monday launched a Steering Committee for the Technology Innovation Programme (TIP) of the ministry.
At the ceremony, Johnson gave the 15-man committee headed by Mr Kyari Bukar, an official in the Central Securities Clearing Centre, (CSCS) Lagos, a mandate to ensure the success of the programme
She directed the committee to set up its own terms of reference which would guide their performance.
According to the minister, the committee has the task of ensuring that young Nigerian software specialists are given the opportunity to showcase their creativity through the TIP.
She said that they should also be given the opportunity to receive mentoring to enable them to upscale their work to world-class levels for commercialisation and access to funds.
The minister said the programme would admit 10 young entrepreneurs each year but would also consider giving some assistance to other candidates.
According to her, the programme is at no cost to the government as the funding comes from industry partners in the private sector, including Chevron, Accenture, First Bank, Digital Jewels, Exxon-Mobil and Total.
She said that the programme would focus first on software specialists in the financial and the oil and gas sector, after its extension to other areas of the nation's economy.
Johnson disclosed that application forms for the programme had been uploaded on a website, www.techlaunchpad.com.ng, for interested young Nigerians of 18 years and above.
According to the minister, the mentoring programme would last for 18 months and only applicants who could make themselves available for that length of time would be eligible.
She said that after that, they would access funds to engage in professional world-class software programme production.
The application opened on Monday and will close on Feb. 24, 2013.
In his speech, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Dr Ibrahim Daudu said that the idea came from the knowledge that Nigeria was losing money buying software when it had people who could produce them.
He said that the project was being undertaken to reverse the trend and shore up the commercialisation and export of Nigeria-made software. NAN