Nigeria’s Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani, celebrated the country’s digital economy progress at the 2023 Digital Nigeria Conference in Abuja on Tuesday.
Tijani noted that Nigeria is now Africa’s top destination for technology startup capital, with $5 billion invested in tech startups in the country last year. He attributed this progress to “progressives” who have taken it upon themselves to get Nigeria to participate in the global economy.
Funke Opeke, the CEO of Main One, a provider of connectivity and data centers across Nigeria, recommended that the government take a protectionist stance to grow Nigeria’s private sector. She said that the government needs to create a framework that will enable Nigerian startups to “grow in the light of global competition.”
Opeke also argued that the government needs to do more to protect Nigeria’s data and critical infrastructure from cyberattacks. She said that too much of Nigeria’s proprietary information, skills, and startup venture economy is being sent abroad.
The theme of the first day of the conference centered around how Nigeria can use emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and blockchain technology to continue building on its digital economy progress. Speakers shared how Nigeria and its startups could use emerging technologies to transform and bring innovation to Nigerian industries.
Kola Aina, the managing partner of Ventures Platform, a Nigerian VC firm, advised emerging tech startups to find relevant solutions for problems on the continent. He said that these startups tend to apply emerging technologies to create “cosmetic” solutions that might not be relevant to Nigeria’s market.
Oswald Osaretin Guobadia, a former adviser to the government on technology and the managing partner of DigitA, said that the government has yet to implement some of the policies created to help improve the adoption of emerging technologies. He gave the example of the Nigeria Startup Act, which was not yet implemented across the country.