It is with great delight that I welcome you to this strategic Africa Investment Forum (AIF). It provides a veritable platform for showcasing the investment opportunities in the African ICT sector in general and the Nigerian ICT sector in particular. I wish to use this opportunity to thank the leadership of the Dubai World Trade Centre for considering us a worthy AIF partner for the last couple of years.
With a population of about 1.2billion people, Africa is the second most populous continent and is home to about a fifth of the world’s population.
In fact, it is projected that a quarter of the world’s population will come from Africa by the year 2050. Furthermore, the continent accounts for a significant portion of the world’s natural resources, much of which are used for the manufacturing of ICT devices. For instance, 71% of the world’s tantalum- a key resource for laptops and other electronics, comes from Africa. Many rechargeable batteries use cobalt and Africa accounts for 58% of the global production of cobalt. The list goes on.
Nigeria is a gateway to sub-Saharan Africa. Our country is strategically located between West and Central Africa, and this gives investors easy access to close to 190 million Nigerians and another 200 million West Africans. Investing in Nigeria can provide access to 150 million Central.
Africans. It also gives you access to one of Africa’s largest economies with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) valued at $405billion USD in 2016, according to the World Bank.
As the 6th largest producer of crude oil, many foreigners tend to associate the Nigerian economy mainly with the oil sector. This may have been true in the past but the concerted efforts of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, has led to a focus on growing the non-oil sector of the country. The efforts are paying off- the National Bureau for Statistics (NBS) reports that the non-oil sector in real terms contributed 91.45% to the nation’s GDP in Q2 2018, up from 90.39% in the 1st quarter.
The rigorous implementation of the administration’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) led the economy out of a recession in 2017 with a growth of 0.83%, up from -1.58% recorded in 2016, which came on the back of improvements in agriculture, industry and trade.
According to the NBS, the economy has registered four consecutive quarters of steady growth. In Q1 2018, the economy grew 1.95% and it is projected to grow by up to 3% over the year, based on factors such as stable production, increased in non-oil output and improved foreign exchange availability.
The Information and Communication GDP grew by 11.81% in Q2 2018, up from 1.58% in Q1 2018 and -1.15% in Q2 2017. This is very positive and we are confident that we can experience even greater growth in the coming years. As such, this is an opportune time to invest in the Nigerian ICT sector.
A ready pool of young “digital natives” awaits investors in our ICT sector. With a population having an average age of 18.2 years, Nigeria is the 22nd youngest country on earth.
The youthfulness of our population is an asset and the fact that many young Nigerians are ICT enthusiasts even makes it better.
Investors can be assured of accessing a large pool of youthful and skilful employees at a fair-price, more cost-effective that engaging employees in other parts of the world.
Innovation is part of our DNA as Nigerians and there are several stories of innovation across the globe that have the imprint of Nigerians.
HopStop, an online city transit App acquired by Apple for a whopping $1billion, was owned by a Nigerian-born Entrepreneur. In August 2018, a team of Nigerian teenagers won the first place in the junior division of the Technovation World Pitch Summit that took place in Silicon Valley.
A Nigerian entrepreneur also developed Mekamon ~the world’s first gaming robot, with the special ability to customize the gaming bot to perform personalized functions. He got a dream deal with Apple pricing each unit at $300 and putting them in nearly all their stores in the United States and the United Kingdom.
The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has an Office for ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIIE) that is focussed on identifying and supporting promising Nigerian startups in the ICT space. The activities of the OIIE have enabled the ICT startup innovation ecosystem in Nigeria to grow at a remarkable pace.
One of our startups- Genie Games- won the 2nd position at the keenly contested Startup Movement Competition at GITEX 2016.
Two of our startups (Arone and Max) were semi-finalists at the GITEX 2018 startup competition.
The Nigerian tech ecosystem has produced 3 companies valued for more than $100million, including the only African “unicorn” (Jumia), valued at over $1billion.
African startups raised $560million in 2017 and Nigerian startups accounted for $114.6million of this amount.
These investments and stories of innovation underscore the viability of the Nigerian startups and the capacity of Nigerians to conceive ingenious ideas. We invite you, our potential investors, to take advantage of this massive talent pool as you invest in Nigeria.
In recent years, ICT has become one of the most vibrant industries in Nigeria, and the reason is not farfetched.
According to Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), there were approximately 98.3 million Nigerian Internet users as at November 2017; an increase of nearly 50 percent from the 2013 figure of 51.8 million.
This presents a huge opportunity for growth in ICT as Internet is the backbone on which Information Technology is built.
NITDA was established in April 2001 to implement the Nigerian Information Technology Policy and co-ordinate general IT development in the country. It was mandated by the National Information Technology Development Act (2007) to create a framework for the planning, research, development, standardization, application, coordination, monitoring, evaluation and regulation of Information Technology practices, activities and systems in Nigeria.
Its role therefore is to develop Information technology in the country through regulatory standards, guidelines and policies. Additionally, NITDA is the clearing house for all IT projects and infrastructural development in the country. It is the prime Agency for e-government implementation, Internet governance and general IT development in Nigeria. The Agency has over the years developed many policies, programmes and initiatives for the sector.
At NITDA, we are implementing a Roadmap that is aimed at transforming Nigeria into a knowledge-based society. The 7 key pillars of our Roadmap are IT Regulation, Capacity Building, Digital Inclusion, Digital Job Creation, Government Digital Service Promotion, Local Content Development & promotion and Cybersecurity. We are open to investment in any of these areas.
Nigerians are very friendly people and our business environment is conducive. A Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) was established in July 2016 to improve the ease of doing business in Nigeria. In addition to this, an Executive Order 001 was signed in May 2017 with the aim of improving the following 6 indices as it relates to improving the business environment in the country:
- Transparency: Government Agencies now publish a complete and updated list of all fees, timelines, conditions and requirements for obtaining permits, licences and approvals on their premises and websites.
- Default approval: Approvals for applications to government Agencies are given within a stipulated period or a default approval will be deemed to have been given after such periods.
- One Government: Agencies now actively collaborate amongst themselves and documents are only be collected at one point, rather than multiple points as was the case before.
- Entry Experience of Visitors and Travelers: Tourist and business visas are now processed within 48hours. The visa-on-arrival process has also been streamlined for efficiency and transparency.
- Port Operations: These have been harmonized into one single interface station implemented by a single joint task force.
- Registration of Business: This is now fully automated and online.
As a result of the ease of doing business initiative, Nigeria now ranks 145 out of 190 countries in the 2018 Doing Business Report, the World Bank’s flagship report, (up from 169/190 in the previous year’s report). Nigeria was acknowledged as one of the top 10 most improved economies in 2017. We aim to be in the top 100 of the World Bank’s ease of doing business by 2020.
In August 2017, Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI) published the list of 27 new industries eligible to enjoy the pioneer status incentive in Nigeria. Companies investing in these sectors receive tax holidays for three to five years. Some of the sectors include E-commerce services, Business Process Outsourcing and Software development and publishing. You are invited to invest in the sectors.
On a last note, our hardware sub-sector presents a very good investment opportunity.
The Ikeja Computer Village is the largest technology market cluster in West Africa and is estimated to contribute about $2billion to Nigeria’s economy annually. We currently have just 7 local Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) who can barely even meet 20% of the local demand for computer hardware by government alone, not to talk of the entire country. We are interested in investors willing to establish world class Original Design Manufacturing (ODM) factories in Nigeria to guarantee quality components for local assembly.
With a thriving ICT sector, innovative and youthful population, as well as a business-friendly environment, the Nigerian ICT sector is an investor’s haven! I invite you all to take advantage of this mutually beneficial opportunity to invest. I thank you all for attending this AIF and we look forward to partnering with you.