The technology ecosystem in Nigeria is growing fast and is among the emerging markets in Africa. Although it is full of prospects, it is still miles from maturity. In a bid to develop the technology ecosystem in Nigeria for economic gains, the federal government is looking for partners. Consequently, the government said the US and other foreign associates hold the key to this growth.
Industry, Trade and Investment Minister Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo made the pronouncement during a US Nigeria Council (USNC) meeting in the recent UN General Assembly Conference in New York. The Minister indicated that developing the technology ecosystem in Nigeria was important for the growth of the economy. Furthermore, he indicated that this would boost the growth of startups in Nigeria.
Adebayo urged foreign investors to consider strengthening the ICT sector in Nigeria to help in building a resilient digital economy. He gave assurance to the 40 USNC members that the current administration has created an enabling environment for the technology ecosystem in Nigeria to thrive.
Investors can therefore help the tech ecosystem grow through various ways. To begin with investors can offer support financial support to help tech startups in the country expand operations. Besides funding they can help through partnerships and expert support to help tech startups grow.
Similarly venture capital investments could help in scaling operations to enhance more market opportunities in the tech space. Foreign investor can also have joint investments in local tech startups most of which grapple with lack of capital. As a result this can help the startups to expand operations and compete effectively in the space. .
Challenges Limiting the Growth of Technology Ecosystem in Nigeria
President Muhammad Buhari’s administration has been laying the foundation to enable the growth of the tech sectors. So far, the government has launched different tech hubs in the country intending to spur the growth of the digital economy. However, financing is still a huge challenge, the trade minister said. He adds that having adequate resources is vital in the realization of a digital economy as well as a technology-driven Nigeria.
“We must create a governmental environment that will help these technology start-ups flourish,” he said. “The government is helping to launch several technology hubs and it’s important we put more resources into this”
Ambassador Terence McCulley, the Chairperson of the USNC, indicated that their meeting was all about supporting Nigeria’s digital economy. In addition, he said that they were seeking ways of helping US investors support the tech sector in Nigeria. Enhancing investment in the technology ecosystem in Nigeria will enable startups to grow, thus, boosting the economy.
Reactions by Industry Experts
The technology ecosystem in Nigeria has been lagging because of a lack of access to capital, infrastructure, and skills set. According to CEO of MainOne Funke Opeke, fewer people are investing in the tech space in Nigeria. MainOne is connectivity and data center provider that offers cloude serevices, internet as well as voice services. The company has operations in Nigeria, Ghana as well as the rest of West Africa. As a result, startups do not have access to adequate resources that can enable them to scale up and expand. It is also unfortunate that some of the successful startups have gone offshore.
Although the technology ecosystem in Nigeria is facing a lot of challenges, the prospects are promising. The government is making up for the lack of incentives through the creation of an enabling environment.