Nigeria is said to have attracted over 30 per cent of the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the tech ecosystem in Africa and increasingly becoming the hub of digital technology in the continent.
The director general of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) Kashifu Inuwa disclosed this at the Leaders Without Borders Annual Business Summit and International Honors 2023 in London with the theme: “Business Beyond Borders, Global Partnerships and Sustainable Investments”.
The global event brought together business leaders, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders from around the world to promote collaboration and innovation in business work, a statement issued by the Spokesperson of NITDA, Hadiza Umar said.
According to Inuwa, “The Nigeria tech ecosystem has attracted about 4.4billion USD investment between the year 2015, 2019 and 2020 respectively, and ICT contributing to about 18.5% to the nation’s GDP, and NITDA also supported about 753 start-ups in different ways through trainings, seed funding and grants.
“Recently, we took some start-ups to Riyadh for a competition, in which two of them emerged as global winners and won $150,000 USD each. Nigeria is thriving and has a vibrant tech ecosystem in Africa and almost 30 per cent of all Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Africa ends in Nigeria.”
Inuwa further said that “NITDA has been doing a lot in the area of digital literacy where it wants to use Nigerian local languages to enable every Nigerian to be able to use digital devices and consume digital services. He pointed out that the agency has trained over 3.3 million Nigerians on digital literacy to boost the economy.
Inuwa said that the digital economy has created a pathway for emerging technologies, providing opportunities for talented youths in Africa to emerge as global leaders, through harnessing their potential.
He recalled that NITDA as a government agency was established in 2001 to help Nigerians in the use of Information Technology (IT), which at that time, less than five hundred thousand Nigerians had access to computers and was contributing less than 0.05% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to the nation.
“Today more than one hundred and twenty million Nigerians have access to the internet, not just computers. Information and Communications Technology (ICT), is contributing more than 18.5 per cent to the GDP,” he said.
He added that, “The NITDA Act was passed into law in 2007 and by 2012 we had the National ICT policy and in 2019 we had the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) which is a major shift in the Agency’s policies. Previous policies are about the use of information Technology while the later digital economy is about the use of ICT in line with the economic activities, simply meaning that technology is not the end but a means to an end.
“The Agency’s mandates fall around developing the national digital economy ecosystem that includes; developmental regulation on how it can level the playing field for you to start and grow business, intervene in the policies and infrastructures for unserved and underserved communities, and lastly, helping the youth with seed funding to develop a proof of concept and prototype of the ideas.
“NITDA embarked on the development of many regulatory frameworks for the Information Technology development in government establishments. The projects are to give rise to digital skills in educational institutions and rural areas and cities, so as to develop human capital and provide universal access to digital services with the aim of creating a knowledge- based economy,’’ he said.
The Inuwa stated that in addition to making an effort in IT development as well as enhancing the capacity of the citizenry, hundreds of IT Hubs, IT Parks, and community ICT centers were established, furnished and equipped with world class facilities across the states of the federation. The agency through its strategic relations with techpreneurs, supported start-ups, IT ecosystem builders through Nigeria ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship Vision (NIIEV) which has created employment for Nigerian youths.
To ensure Nigeria’s pool of talents were not left behind, the Agency established the National Center for Artificial Intelligence and Robotic (NCAIR), to drive and support research, development, and adoption of emerging technologies in the country.
Inuwa further revealed that, “Nigeria is thriving and has the most vibrant tech ecosystem in Africa, the fintech company which is almost twice bigger than the biggest bank in Nigeria. The biggest bank in Nigeria is about $1.6 billion in valuation, while Flutter wave is almost $3.6 billion . While looking into e-commerce, e-health, mobility and logistics, e-recruitment, Agric-tech, prop-tech, and smart homes which is booming in Nigeria and Africa in general”.
“In the ecosystem we have five critical stakeholders to be considered; the institution: where the universities produce the human capital which is the most valuable resources in Africa, with the youngest population with more than 70 per cent comprises of youths under the ages of 30; the government: which is aimed at building a conducive environment for businesses to thrive through laws, provide legal frameworks, policies, and regulations.
“The private organisations: to aid employ the human capital produced and also purchase of the goods and services rendered. The risk capital: which is a major problem in Africa. If you look at most of the top jobs in Nigeria and Africa in general, they get funding from abroad, mostly from the US and Europe. While in Nigeria we don’t have such an investment to boost the economy,” he said.