Nigeria’s digital economy will record impressive growth in the coming years. Experts at Moonshot by TechCabal said this can only be achieved if stakeholders collaborate.
Depending on who you ask, Nigeria’s digital economy is on course to record impressive growth. The last decade has seen the emergence of multimillion-dollar startups like Paystack and Flutterwave and billions of dollars flowing into the tech ecosystem. In 2019, the World Bank predicted that Nigeria is “well-positioned to develop a strong digital economy, which would have a transformational impact”. But it will take strategic efforts to build a thriving digital economy in Nigeria, according to Juliet Ehimuan, immediate past director of Google West Africa.
Ehimuan, who spoke during a panel session at Moonshot by TechCabal on Wednesday, October 11, highlighted four key things needed to build the rails for the growth of Nigeria’s digital economy. “The first is access to the marketplace. Second, it’s important for us to have locally relevant content and ensure that we have use cases, tools, and solutions that address the various gaps in the market. And the third is capacity—making sure we have the talent who can build these solutions and people who can use them. And the final is funding for tech entrepreneurs,” she said.
Another panelist, Oswald Guobadia, former senior special assistant on digital transformation in Nigeria’s last administration, opined that some of the challenges of Nigeria’s digital economy are tied to a lack of collaboration between policymakers and practitioners, leading to a drawback in policymaking.
“When a practitioner creates an idea to disrupt things, the policymaker sees displacement. The only way to solve that problem is through collaboration. The Nigeria Startup Act provides a framework for collaboration between the government and private sector to deliver value,” he said, adding that the appointment of tech stakeholders like Bosun Tijani into government is a good starting point.
Like Guobadia, Ehimuan said partnerships between startups are necessary to scale greater impact. “We have celebrated a few unicorns in the continent. For every unicorn out there, there are probably 1,000 more businesses in that space doing great work, but they don’t have visibility. They don’t have the support that they need. And this is when the ecosystem needs to pull together to provide that level of support,” she said.
Despite the generational shift to tech jobs in the past decade, the Nigerian tech ecosystem still grapples with a talent gap. At the same time, it is losing tech workers to companies in developed economies as part of a brain drain wave.
Speaking earlier at the event, Nigeria’s minister of communications, innovation, and digital economy, Bosun Tijani shared how he intends to achieve the ministry’s goal of training 3 million tech talents over the next four years. Ehimuan said that beyond the ministry’s ambitious goal, the government needs to work toward building the capacity of the teeming number of graduates produced by universities annually to join the tech workforce. “We need to ensure that we’re creating opportunities where a lot of our very talented and vibrant learners can get support,” she said.