The minister of Communications, Dr Isa Ibrahim Pantami yesterday told potential investors across the globe to invest in Nigeria now or regret sooner or later.
He charged them to leverage the enabling environment being put in place by the present administration to invest in the burgeoning economy for mutual benefit.
The minister spoke at the Africa Investment Forum (AIF) on Wednesday, a side event of the ongoing GITEX Technology Week holding in at Dubai World Trade Centre, UAE.
‘‘Nigeria is well on the way to developing a vibrant digital economy that will be propelled by the youthful and innovative population, as well as the policies and programmes that will ensure that there is sustainability in the development of the digital economy. As such, this is truly an auspicious time to invest and we are convinced that it would bring rich dividends!
‘‘I invite you all to take advantage of this mutually beneficial opportunity to invest. Thank you for your kind attention.
‘‘Africa’s population is growing at an average rate of 2.57%, which is almost 220% the average global growth rate of 1.17% per annum. Half of the global population growth is projected to occur between now and 2050 is expected to occur in Africa.
‘‘Even though we already have a large market of about 1.2billion people in Africa, investors should expect an even larger market in the upcoming years. Africa has the youngest continent, which, according to the United Nations, comprises 60% of the population under the age of 25years. Younger people adapt easier to technology and we are confident that Africa is well-positioned to play a key role in ICT-triggered innovation.’’
He said Nigeria’s geographic and financial position on the continent makes it a very strategic country and good starting point for investors interested in the African continent.
With an average age of just over 18 years, Pantami said Nigeria has a potential critical mass of ‘digital natives’ that can transform the country into a regional and global ICT powerhouse in addition to a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) valued at $397 Billion, making the country the largest economy in Africa.
He equally urged the investors to take advantage of a number of incentives available for investors in the development of the economy, noting that the Information and Communications Sector currently enjoys a pioneer status from the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC).
‘‘The Africa Investment Forum (AIF) provides a global platform to tell the African story through African eyes. This is an opportune time to invest in the Nigerian ICT sector. NITDA has also been using its regulatory frameworks to drive investment growth. Our Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) is the only data protection law in the world that creates a class of professionals called Data Protection Compliance Organisations (DPCO) who are licensed to help over 1.5 million organisations comply with data protection laws.’’
The minister further stated that though, Nigeria currently does not has a large slice of the global digital economy but is ambitious enough to position herself to play a leading role in contributing to this economy, adding that the increasing influence of ICT on our GDP gives us the impetus required to further develop the digital economy in Nigeria.
According to him, the ministry has embarked on a few programmes to support the development of our digital economy. Some of which include: Increasing broadband penetration; Digital Literacy; Developmental Regulation; E-governance; Cybersecurity; Local Content Development; and Digital Job Creation.
On broadband penetration, which currently stands at about 33%, the minister informed the audience that he is committed to increasing this value and also bridge the current 207 Clusters of ICT Access Gaps that include 33.2million that lack access in the country.
He further disclosed that the government has mapped out strategies to bridge this gap and invite investors to explore this opportunity. ‘‘To make this dream a reality, we are making arrangements to embark on a large scale intensive ICT digital literacy programme that will ensure that Nigerians from all works of life have the digital skills required to contribute to the digital economy,’’ he added.
He said this will strengthen our digital economy, make it easier for citizens to access government services and also make it easier for the government to track performance. ‘‘Investors can also access government services, such services include company registration, land management, education and eHealth. We are also deploying technology to improve the efficiency of the postal system and enhance the ability of subscribers to track items posted.’’
To guarantee the safety of investors, he said the ministry is strengthening its resolve to keep Nigerians and investors safe online. ‘‘One of our strategies is to ensure that there is a proper digital identity for all those that transact in the digital economy.’’
On capacity building and Innovation, he said Nigerian entrepreneurs have shown competence and are highly innovative that the global investor community is taking note. This he said explains why there has been a progressive increase in the level of investment in Nigerian startups. For instance, he said the funding to Nigerian startups exceeded the $100 million barriers in 2016 and increased further to $117 million in 2018.
Similarly, he said the financial technology (fintech) sector deserves special attention haven shown 1.9 trillion transactions in 2018, valued at a whopping N92 trillion with a projection that Nigeria’s e-commerce market will be worth $75 billion by 2025.
The programme, which comprises a panel session for Nigerian IT experts to educate the world about business opportunities in Nigeria also provided an opportunity for potential investors to seek clarifications on critical issues about the ease of doing business in Nigeria. Nigerians Start-Ups also seized the stage to speak on their innovations and the potentials.