The 2023 Collision Conference, held at the Enercare Centre in Toronto, Canada from June 26 to 29, 2023 saw a showcasing of the Federal Government’s investor-friendly administrative reforms.
The director-general of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi, attended the conference as a special guest, participating in various sessions and delivering a speech on fostering healthy tech ecosystems.
Represented by the agency’s director of information technology infrastructure solutions, Dr. Usman Abdullahi, the DG seized the opportunity to emphasise the key investor-friendly reforms implemented by the Federal Government which are positioning Nigeria as the preferred destination for foreign investors. Abdullahi highlighted that Nigeria is not only Africa’s largest economy but is also projected to become the third most populous country and one of the top 10 economies globally by 2050, surpassing countries like France, the UK, Germany and Saudi Arabia. He asserted that Nigeria offers an excellent investment environment for those considering investing in Africa, given its strategic location and position as Africa’s business hub with convenient access to other regions worldwide.
The NITDA boss further revealed that Nigeria is recognised as Africa’s largest digital technologies market, boasting 82 per cent of the continent’s telecommunication subscribers and 29 per cent of internet usage. Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to be the fastest-growing region, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.6 per cent and an anticipated enrollment of over 167 million additional subscribers in the next five years.
Recognising these immense potentials, Abdullahi highlighted that the Federal Government of Nigeria has made deliberate efforts to attract investors through strategic reforms aimed at fostering a business-friendly environment. One crucial reform was the establishment of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) in July 2016, which aimed to improve the business climate in Nigeria by eliminating critical bottlenecks, reducing procedural restrictions and attracting foreign direct investment.
The DG further mentioned that, under the leadership of former vice-president of Nigeria and chairman of PEBEC, Professor Yemi Osinbajo the council implemented a series of reforms. These reforms included tax-free incentives, exemption from levies, simplified regulations and the opportunity for foreigners to wholly own enterprises and be exempted from the expatriate quota. As a result, Nigeria’s ranking in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index improved remarkably, rising from 169th place with a score of 48.40 per cent in 2016 to 131st place with a score of 56.90 per cent in 2019, achieving an average annual growth rate of 4.17 per cent.
Abdullahi informed the audience that to fully harness the potential of Nigeria’s digital technologies market and beyond, the Federal Government re-designated the Federal Ministry of Communications to the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy in October 2019. This expansion aimed to align the ministry’s mandate with the goals of digitalising the Nigerian economy in line with the government’s economic reform initiatives. A significant milestone in this regard was the launch of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a Digital Nigeria, which occurred a month later. This initiative aimed to transform Nigeria into a leading digital economy, providing quality life and digital opportunities for all.
The DG outlined additional reforms, including the Nigeria Startup Act, which is in the process of full implementation to strengthen the ecosystem and create an enabling environment for the growth of startups. Other reforms mentioned were the National Digital Talent Strategy, aiming to position Nigeria as a major tech talent factory globally, the National Blockchain Policy, designed to facilitate Nigeria’s transition into the digital economy by leveraging Blockchain technology, the National Blockchain Adoption Strategy, which aims to harness a $1.76 trillion global economy by 2030 and generate 250,000 jobs by 2024, the National Outsourcing Strategy implementation, aiming to create around 5 million jobs by 2027 and attract FDI through a thriving global outsourcing industry and the National Data Strategy, which intends to create a data analytics industry, drive security and economic growth and establish a ₦20 trillion data market by 2025.
Abdullahi assured the audience that the current administration is committed to implementing these reforms and many more in the months to come. He referenced President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s inauguration speech on May 29th, 2023, where the President addressed investors, promising a review of complaints about multiple taxation and anti-investment policies. President Tinubu’s participation at the New Global Finance Pact Summit in Paris from June 22 to 23, 2023, aimed to attract international investment to Nigeria, further emphasising the government’s dedication to encouraging investment in the country. In conclusion, Abdullahi encouraged the attendees to consider Nigeria in their investment plans.
According to the head of corporate affairs and external relations at NITDA, Mrs. Hadiza Umar the Collision Conference, known as “The Olympics of Tech,” is one of the world’s largest tech conferences, bringing together Fortune 500 companies, groundbreaking startups, world-class speakers and individuals shaping the global tech industry. The 2023 event drew over 36,000 attendees from 118 countries.