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Collaborative Action Needed to Boost Digitalisation in Nigeria and Support Economic Growth

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In the face of serious economic and developmental challenges, the Nigerian Government through the Strategic Blueprint of the Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy has identified digitalisation as a key enabler to stabilise and strengthen the macroeconomic environment.

L-R: Juergen Peschel, Chief Executive Officer, 9Mobile; Dr. Bosun Tijani, Honourable Minister of Communications, Innovation, & Digital Economy; Dr. Aminu Maida, Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission; Gbenga Adebayo, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON); Bella Disu, Executive Vice Chairperson, Globacom; Karl Toriola, Chief Executive Officer, MTN; Angela Wamola, Head of Sub-Saharan Africa, GSM Association (GSMA); Ibrahim Dikko, Chief Executive Officer, Backbone Connectivity Networks Nig. Ltd.; at the GSMA Nigeria Digital Economy Report launch in Abuja on May 9 2024.

It is pursuing structural reforms, creating an environment conducive to private and public sector growth and job creation, while concurrently recognising the need to diversify away from the reliance on the oil and extractives sector. This shift towards diversification underscores the digital sector’s significant role in steering Nigeria towards a more resilient and dynamic economic future.

The largest contribution of the digital sector to Nigeria’s overall GDP is through the impact digitalisation has on the productivity of other sectors. For example, in the short-term, measures such as cash transfers to citizens can be done more quickly and efficiently using mobile money payment platforms. Digital technologies also boost productivity in the agricultural sector through increased use of agricultural inputs, better storage facilities and more coordinated support across agencies with the use of digital technologies to communicate and support small-scale farmers. 

It is estimated that, in 2023, the telecoms sector was contributing 13.5% to the GDP of Nigeria. Considering the direct and indirect contribution of the mobile ecosystem, as well as the productivity impact throughout the economy, the telecom sector’s contribution to Nigeria’s overall economic activity is much greater, estimated at 33 trillion NGN in 2023, with 2.4 trillion NGN in tax revenue contributions. 

The GSMA today published its latest report ‘The role of mobile technology in driving the digital economy in Nigeria’ which addresses the challenges hindering the growth and development of the telecommunications industry and the crucial role of the mobile sector in Nigeria’s economic development. Connectivity to mobile services, including Mobile Money is the foundation on which digitalisation is built. The Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) are committed to investing to support the realisation of the digitalisation ambitions that will unlock economic growth and development in the country.

Navigating a complex operating environment

To unlock these economic opportunities, connectivity and mobile financial services are crucial foundations. The GSMA’s report emphasises that while 29% of Nigerians are regularly using mobile internet, there remains untapped potential, as 71% are not accessing these services on a regular basis. An improved policy environment has the potential to help the industry boost coverage and adoption, resulting in 15 million additional internet users by 2028. However, the sector faces challenges to infrastructure deployment.

These include:

  • Complex and costly process of securing Rights of Way (RoW) significantly increases the time and costs associated with rolling out infrastructure.
  • The complex tax environment in Nigeria, providing for high and increasing costs of tax compliance because of the complex and overlapping tax structure within the country.
  • Increasing costs are making it difficult for the industry to maintain sustainable levels of investment. The primary driver of this has been increases in the cost of power for sites due to the rapid increases in the price of fuel, increased government fees and levies, and increased demand for forex, in an import-dependent environment, due to contractual obligations for network infrastructure and services that are denominated in USD.

Transforming Nigeria into a digital economy

An enabling policy and regulatory framework will be critical to realising the full potential of Nigeria’s digital transformation, as recognised in Nigeria’s Strategic Plan 2023 – 2027 as well as the Federal Ministry’s National Broadband Alliance for Nigeria (NBAN). Without universal access to digital connectivity, a broader digital transformation of the Nigerian economy is not possible.

It is clear that the mobile industry is a key partner for the government in achieving its objectives and can contribute to some of the key elements of the government’s plan. The value of this contribution can significantly increase with the necessary support from government required to overcome the obstacles outlined above.

To this end, the report recommends initiatives to support policymakers in creating an economic and regulatory environment that supports growth, investment, and competition.

These include implementing a legal framework for Critical National Infrastructure to address challenges in building network infrastructure; simplifying and improving the process for issuing RoW and standardising it across the country; reducing the industry’s tax burden to help cut operating costs; and creating a regulatory environment that supports sustainable investment.

Angela Wamola, Head of Sub-Saharan Africa at the GSMA, said: “High-speed connectivity is the bedrock of any digital nation, and the Nigerian government recognises the mobile industry’s role in laying key foundations on which digital transformation is built.

“Future policies should be geared towards reducing the cost and complexity of infrastructure rollout to encourage investment and boost the adoption of mobile broadband.

“The impact of such actions would go far beyond mobile, driving productivity gains across the economy and creating millions of new jobs in Nigeria.”

 


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Ugo Onwuaso is an ICT enthusiast. He believes technology should be used for general good. He holds a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the Lagos state University. Dear Reader, Your support matters. But we believe that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. That is why, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and finance and how they affect lives. Our incisive and analytical view of how technology news affects the daily life help individuals and organizations make up their minds. Quality journalism costs money. Today, we're asking that you support us to do more. Kindly support our effort to deliver technology and finance journalism to everyone in the world. Donate as little as N1,000. Bank transfers can be made to: UBA Plc 1017156876 Communication Week Media Ltd

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NDPC Empowers Institute to Certify Data Protection Professionals

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Nigeria Data Protection Commission (NDPC) has said the certification of data protection professionals in the country will significantly reduce capital flight and create more than 500,000 jobs in the sector.

NDPC Empowers Institute to Certify Data Protection Professionals

L-r: Dr. Vincent Olatunji, executive commissioner, NDPC and Dr. Oyedokun Oyewole, president of the Institute of Information Management,

Dr. Vincent Olatunji, executive commissioner, NDPC, stated this at the presentation of the certificate of licence to the Institute of Information Management (IMF) in Abuja.

He said the certification of data protection professionals would not only enhance the protection of personal data, but also boost the country’s economic growth and development.

The projection comes as the commission intensifies efforts to promote data protection and privacy in Nigeria’s rapidly growing digital economy.

According to Dr. Olatunji, the move aims to enhance the capacity of organisations to protect personal data and promote compliance with Nigeria’s data protection regulations.

Establishing a local institution to train and certify Nigerians would significantly enhance local content in the sector, the NDPC boss hinted.

The commission, he assured his audience, was already exploring the possibility of implementing the licencing framework across Africa—a move that could potentially harmonise data protection standards and expertise across the continent.

Dr. Oyedokun Oyewole, president of the Institute of Information Management, said the licence would effectively address the existing gap in the data protection ecosystem, providing a much-needed solution.

Recalling that the certification process began in 2021, Dr. Oyewole reaffirmed the institute’s dedication to excellence, pledging to provide top-notch education in data protection and set a benchmark for the country’s education system in this field.

The IIM’s certification programmes will cover essential topics such as data protection principles, risk management, and compliance with the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR).

The initiative is expected to boost the confidence of organisations and individuals in the country’s data protection landscape.

 

 


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CrediCorp Partners FintechNGR to Drive Consumer Credit Initiative

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Nigerian Consumer Credit Corporation (CrediCorp), has partnered Fintech Association of Nigeria (FinTechNGR) to drive consumer credit scheme initiative through a robust payment platform that would be provided by members of FinTechNGR.

Speaking at a Social Meet in Lagos, organised by FinTechNGR, with the theme: “Augmenting the Future, AI, Credit and Transformation of Nigerian Finance,” the Chairman, CrediCorp Board of Directors, Aderemi Abdul-Bojela, said members of FinTechNGR would have specific roles to play in the partnership, in the areas of providing robust platform for money transfer, technology evaluation, among others.

“Today, CrediCorp is engaging with members of FinTechNGR in a social interactive gathering to discuss collaboration and support for the growth of Consumer Credit Corporation in Nigeria. We want to interact to understand how technology will drive the crediCorp initiative in Nigeria and also to understand the role that members of FinTechNGR will play in all of these initiatives around CrediCorp,” Abdul-Bojela said.

Describing the partnership as a welcome development that will enhance savings culture among Nigerians, the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of FinTechNGR, Dr. Babatunde Obrimah, said: “FinTechNGR is an enabler of technology advancement in Nigeria. We bring the players together to drive technology innovation.

“Our role in the FinTechNGR-CrediCorp partnership is to ensure that our members support the growth of consumer credit in Nigeria, by providing the relevant payment platforms for all financial transactions among the banks who are the lenders, the customers who are the burrowers and the CrediCorp who is the guarantor.”

Speaking about the benefits for Nigerians, Obrimah said the Consumer Credit Corporation in Nigeria would enhance the country’s credit culture and enable Nigerians to save and plan well with their savings. “The initiative will address inflation, help in liquidity flow, build trust in customers’ borrowing, boost credit culture and enhance the culture of savings among Nigerians,” Obrimah said.

Addressing the issue of risk and consumer trust, Abdul-Bojela said the CrediCorp has put measures in place to ensure that the banks that would be involved in lending, would be protected and guaranteed of the repayment of the loans within the CrediCorp ecosystem.

He said there would be an independent management that would ensure that the right technology is put in place to recover all monies.


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NITDA to Integrate of Digital Literacy into School Curriculum

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Kashifu Abdullahi, director general of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), announced plans to integrate digital literacy into Nigeria’s education system, to achieve a 70% literacy rate by 2027 and 95% by 2030.

NITDA to Integrate of Digital Literacy into School Curriculum

Kashifu Abdullah, DG, NITDA

The NITDA’s DG made the announcement on Wednesday in Abuja during a media parley.

He stated that in order to include digital literacy in the curriculum at all educational levels, from kindergarten to university, the Agency was collaborating with the Federal Ministry of Education.

Abdullahi, said that this program would equip Nigerians with the digital know-how and abilities they need to succeed in the digital economy.

He emphasized that NITDA would also launch the “Digital Literacy for All Initiative” to educate Nigerians outside the formal education system and provide access to quality digital content.

Nigeria would train over two million young people in in-demand IT skills in order to become significant global outsourcing hub

NITDA is also collaborating with the Defence Headquarters and security agencies to develop digital solutions to address security concerns, including the use of drones, artificial intelligence, and other digital resources to combat banditry, abduction, and terrorism, he said.

 

According to him, the agency’s draft SRAP 2.0 plan aims to establish Nigeria as a digitally empowered nation, with a focus on innovation, national prosperity, and inclusivity.

The director general of NITDA added that, if successfully implemented, this strategy could propel Nigeria into a new phase of digital empowerment and leadership in the global digital economy.


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