For Nigeria to overcome the challenges to new technologies and innovations as tools for job creation and youth employment, government must give priority to infrastructure development and reform the educational system, a report has advised.
Concentrating on stimulating market potential, improving the skillset of Nigerian youth, making sustained early stage funding available, and reviewing regulations inhibiting growth of technology startups will support the growth of the sector, the report further said.
These were part of the recommendations in the report commissioned by Google, in collaboration with Ventures Platform and OC & C Consultants on “Tech entrepreneurship ecosystem in Nigeria.”
The report, which is the outcome of an in-depth research, analysed trends and challenges local technology entrepreneurs, particularly start-ups, encounter in setting up or sustaining their businesses in the country.
It identified some policy-related concerns to entrepreneurs, such as government requirements for startups to present three-year financial audits, tax certificates and minimum number of years of experience to participate in government tenders and public procurement processes.
Some of the recommendations in the report include the need for creation of public school programmes with reformed curriculum to promote technology learning; initiation of vocational programmes to provide digital literacy and technical skills and strengthening of research and innovation in universities.
Also, the report called for creation of incubators at universities to inspire student entrepreneurs; design private technology entrepreneurship grants and form public funds to close funding gaps; introduce tax breaks, rebates and exemptions for high impact technology start-ups.
Other recommendations included revision of public procurement regulations to accommodate technology entrepreneurship; promotion of collaboration with established innovation hubs; establishment of technology clusters and development of incentives for high net worth investors in technological start-ups.
During a pre-report unveiling media briefing in Abuja, Programme Director, Ventures Platform Foundation, Mimshach Obioha, said some of the findings from the study included lack of public funding and limited pool of domestic government grants for technology entrepreneurs in the country.
Mr Obioha said other findings included general low education standard culminating in poor skilled talent; low collaboration between interest groups and start-up associations; lack of tax incentives and reliefs for technology entrepreneurs; dearth of laws and digital policies; absence of basic infrastructure and poor regulation.
“The Nigerian tech ecosystem is still in its infancy and so needs a lot of support,” Mr Onuoha noted. “The first step to creating meaningful and impactful solutions and policies lies in understanding how the ecosystem runs.
“This research gives us the opportunity to take that first step. Experts in the tech community, including the government, have a crucial and deliberate role to play in supporting the emergence and growth of digital entrepreneurs.”
In her view, Google Policy & Government Relations Lead, Titi Akinsanmi, who noted the significance of a thriving digital system to the economy, said it was good for everyone, including Google.
Mrs Akinsanmi said while the technology ecosystem in Nigeria was gaining momentum, local technology start-ups struggle with scaling-up their work due to inadequate social and policy structures.
“Providing informed, independent research like this helps to educate stakeholders on the challenges and how they can be addressed,” she said.
She said early stage funding was critical to stimulating the country’s technology start-up ecosystem, urging government to do something to guarantee accessibility to affordable internet to the people.
At the launch of the report, Minister of State for Industry, Trade & Investment, Aisha Abubakar, hailed the research, saying studies like this would help development of new policies to promote innovation.
“We see the creativity and ingenuity of our micro, small & medium enterprises and believe the right enabling environment can help them thrive and prosper,” the minister said.
She said MSMEs could operate optimally if they effectively utilise local raw materials, generate employment, encourage rural development and stimulate entrepreneurship, towards wealth creation.