Nigeria’s minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, has called on investors in the information and communication technology sector to invest in the country’s digital economy.
Delivering a keynote at this year’s Africa Investment Forum, a side event at the ongoing GITEX Technology Week holding in Dubai, Mr Pantami said investment in the sector was a golden opportunity.
Mr Pantami said Nigeria had a number of advantages, including large market, youthful population, innovate developers, cheap labour and clement policies for investment.
“Nigeria is both a geographic and an economic gateway to sub-Saharan Africa. As a geographic gateway, we have a prime location between West and Central Africa. In other words, investing in Nigeria gives investors easy access to close to 550 million people–200 million from Nigeria, another 200 million West Africans and about 150 million Central Africans,” he said.
He said potential investors in the sector in Nigeria would take advantage of its growing” digital natives” who can play a leading role in the global digital economy.
“Investors in our digital economy can be assured of access to a large pool of youthful and skilful employees at a more cost-effective rate than it would cost to engage employees in other parts of the world.”
Mr Pantami said a number of Nigerians have developed successful IT solutions which attracted attention of global players in the sector.
“A Nigerian-trained Doctor is credited to have played leading role in the development of the Pizza er COVID-19 vaccine. Reports indicate that this vaccine is expected to pull in more than $8 billion in revenue by the end of 2021.
“Another Nigeria developed Koniku, a device that uses artificial intelligence to create an electronic-nose that can ‘smell’ the COVID virus. A deal has already been signed by Airbus to deploy this solution on their aircrafts.
“Other non-COVID solutions include HopStop that was developed by a Nigerian and sold to Apple for $1billion,” he said.
The minister said the old Ministry of Communications was redesigned last year to provide support for the development of Nigeria’s digital economy.
“We started by developing a National Degital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) for a Digital Nigeria. This document was unveiled and launched by Mr President on the 28th of November, 2019. NDEPS provides a holistic and sustainable approach towards the development of our nation’s digital economy.”
Mr Pantami said this year the ICT sector recorded its highest ever contribution to Nigeria’s GDP of 17.83%, in the 2nd Quarter of 2020.
“Even though this value dropped in the 3rd quarter, mainly due to the overall contraction of the economy as a result of COVID-19, there are great prospects for the digital economy sector, which includes ICT and digital services, amongst others.”
A Ghanaian investment expert, Eric Osiakwan, said with a population of 70 per cent below 25 years, Africa has the demographic advantage required by investors.
Another advantage, he said, is the growing middle class population which is currently at 34 percent and expected to reach 1.1 billion by 2060, according to the African Development Bank.
He said with the demographic advantages, developers and investors in Africa “don’t need a global market, the market is already available”.
Mr Osiakwan said in order to cultivate the potentials, Africans need to “consume what we produce”.
He said universities on the continent need to produce needed human resources to drive the economic activities.
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