Nigeria remains Africa’s top destination for tech investment despite current economic challenges, Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr Bosun Tijani, told the audience at the ongoing Digital Nigeria conference and expo organised by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
The theme of the gathering is: “Harnessing Digital Technologies for Job Creation, Inclusive Economic Growth and Sustainability.”
“Today, Nigeria is the top destination for technology startup capital in Africa with about $5 million invested in tech startups in the continent last year. We took 20 percent of that total investment just to Nigeria.”
He described the Digital Nigeria event as a platform to share insights on advancing Nigeria’s digital economy and also honour entrepreneurs as well as public sector players who have helped in growing the country’s digital infrastructure
His words: “We should also celebrate the tech entrepreneurs that took it upon themselves to ensure that the backbone that we have invested in is being converted to value for our country. From the founders of Interswitch to those who came after them, to tech entrepreneurs that are littered all around you, if you look around you would see their images. These are just a few examples”
Adding: “I think today is also a celebration of different think tanks that have been pushing to ensure visibility in the way we approach and apply technology in Nigeria.
“It is important for us to celebrate because it is easy for us to focus on what we need to build in our country and lose sight of the gains we have actually made as a nation.”
With thousands of people attending from across the country, within and outside Africa, the Digital Nigeria has evolved to be the showpiece event at brining government and private sector actors to advancing Nigeria’s technology drive.
Host of the event and Director General of NITDA, Mr Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, described the 2023 theme of event as designed to promote employability of millions of young people in the country’s evolving digital economy.
According to him, “the vision is to use digital technologies to foster job creation. The conference is designed to achieve six core objectives: For networking, activation of conversation that can lead to innovation, policy direction, and regulation, which can provide a bedrock for us to survive as a nation and a stronger ecosystem, this will bring about global visibility.”
Managing Director of Mainone – an Equinix company, Funke Opeke, while speaking on how emerging technologies could allow countries to leapfrog their economies, said Nigeria must take a cue from countries like Singapore, South Korea, and India, to leverage technology and knowledge building for economic transformation. While undue reliance on crude oil for FOREX remains an unhealthy reality, she said Nigeria must make that significant policy shift towards technology investment and deployment to transform its economy and lift millions from poverty like India did.
While the telecommunications and ICT services sector has continued to grow in terms of contribution to the country’s GDP from about 8% in 2015 to over 18% in 2023, Opeke noted that there was still plenty of work to be done to accelerate growth nationwide.
Government must come up with clear policies that support investment and growth in the technology sector in such a way as to impact positively on job creation and services expansion, she added.