Digital economy: Research key to Nigeria’s role in $11.5trn market


Nigeria’s ICT regulator seeks more funding for research to quicken the country’s journey into a digital economy


  • NITDA presents new policy innovation


The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has called for more funding of technology research in Nigeria.


This, according to the Director- General of the agency, Mr. Kashifu Inuwa, is the only way the country can be part of the $11.5 trillion global digital economy. Inuwa stated this as NITDA presented the Nigeria Digital Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Startup Policy (NDIESP) to the public, particularly IT stakeholders for further review and additional input.


“We are all aware that there is no innovation where new knowledge does not exist. The most innovative countries in the world that control the market share of the $11.5 trillion global digital economy are the countries with immense public and private sectors that are funding research and development.


“We must commit to accelerating our research and  development; beginning with our intellectual property environment and solving the underlying problems of funding for innovative research,” he said.


Inuwa added that the funding required for startups, spinoffs, and already established companies in their quest for digital solutions development for the market is also relevant to the realisation of Nigeria’s digital vision.


“It is in the application of knowledge and its conversion into useful products for the people that innovation ushers in prosperity. While many incentives exist already, we must bring together these initiatives  in ways that ensure ease of access to those who need to access it.


Beyond tax incentives, we must also create innovative ways of facilitating patient venture capital that will provide the runway that these innovative companies require.


“Even as we put all these in place, we must also commit to promoting digital entrepreneurship amongst our youth by all means necessary and put in place the framework that boosts demand for digital products in the economy through government patronage by procurement of these digital innovation products,” he said.


He disclosed that the National Digital Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Startup Policy (NDIESP) being championed by the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, comprised of six priority thrusts namely: Advancing Human Capital, Unlocking Access to Capital, Enabling Infrastructure, Boosting Demand, supporting R&D, and Promoting Innovative Entrepreneurship, is formulated to achieve a digital innovation and entrepreneurship driven nation that would become a norm that focuses on seeing improvement in the areas of digital technologies.

According to him, as the nation exited from recession, the NDIESP proposes that digital innovation and entrepreneurship would help fast track the recovery of other traditional economic sectors by supporting the provision and adoption of indigenous and tailor-made solutions for nationwide implementation of the policy through automation, smart processes and ICT solutions while applying to key in stakeholders in government, innovation-driven enterprises, consumers of innovation, technology start-ups, innovation hubs and labs, investors, academia, funding agencies, civil society organisations, service providers, and others into the policy.


The NITDA DG said the idea behind the formulation of the policy was to bring to the table different and innovative approaches in realising President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision for the country.


He added that for the digital transformation to become a reality, Nigeria must pay attention to harnessing the quality and the relevance of its population, while it continues to maintain the 60:40 ratio of STEM students in universities to other disciplines, adding that more attention should be paid to the curricular that are being used to teach and how relevant they to the digital economy.


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