Nigeria is committed to boost investment in digital economy ~VP
Nigeria is committed and determined to increase investment in the technology sector and boost the nation’s digital economy even as it received a total capital inflow of $377 million into the sector between 2018 and 2019.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who disclosed this in a statement noted that though the capital inflow to the tech sector is moderate considering the size of the country’s economy, it represents significant gains for the economy.
The Vice President spoke during a fireside chat with Facebook’s Vice President on Global Affairs and Communications, former UK Deputy Prime Minister, Sir Nick Clegg.
Osinbajo said the focus of the Nigerian government on the digital sector is crucial in various socio-economic aspect of national life, from education, e-commerce, social investments programmes to the activities of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government.
“As of 2018/19, we’ve gotten about $377m in investments in the tech sector. Although, it still scratches the surface if one considers the size of our economy and country. But there were very significant gains, and I’m very happy to do that. I think we’ve started off a series of interactions that have been very useful and we will continue to engage,” the VP stated.
“We’ve talked a bit about foreign investments in innovation in Nigeria, but more importantly, the work that the Bank of Industry is doing. The Bank of Industry has a technology fund. The Central Bank of Nigeria has also recently established a technology fund. Also, we are working with the African Development Bank (AfDB), which has a $500m fund; at the moment we are at the final stages, trying to bring that into existence.
“So, there is quite a bit of activity to ensure that there is access to funding, while we are improving the business environment and the environment for technology companies to operate,” he said.
During the chat, Clegg and other Facebook officials, including Ebele Okobi, Facebook’s Head of Public Policy, Africa, informed the Vice President about the decision of FaceBook to open its second African office in Lagos possibly by the end of this year or sometime next year.
On the issue of regulations to ensure smooth collaboration between government and the private sector, the Vice President stated that the Federal Government will continue to engage with the private sector to boost development of the tech and creative sector.
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“With regulation, we are dealing with uncharted territory, because quite a few of what we are seeing are entirely new. And I must say that the regulatory authorities have done quite a decent work, trying to grapple with the newness of some of what they are seeing… So, what has happened is that the collaborative efforts of govt and the tech sector, even the entertainment sector, worked on this.
“We had set up a technology and creativity advisory group; these are young entrepreneurs, innovators etc, who worked with us in the Industrial and Competitiveness Council to craft some of these regulations and to think through some of the problems,” Osinbajo said.
“We are trying to work with practically everyone who is interested in the Nigerian digital sector. By way of preparation, one of the critical issues for us is improving our broadband infrastructure. We’ve heard the exciting stuff that Facebook is doing, especially by way of subsea cable that is being launched.
“But we also have a Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 recently launched by the Hon. Minister of Communication & Digital Economy. There is a presidential committee which has just been inaugurated to work on this. These are broad objectives, and for us, creating that infrastructure is crucial, and we are happy to see the partnerships from Facebook and from some of the other tech companies.”