The director-general of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi has alluded to the ability of financial technology (FinTech) as the driver of Nigeria’s recent performance in the industry and environmental, social, and governance (ESG), especially with the application of developmental regulation approach and enabling policies toward co-creating the tech ecosystem.
Abdullahi made this known at the Digital Finance Summit, a sideline event of the ongoing GITEX 2022 in Dubai, UAE.
While noting that 2021 was a record year for tech startups in Nigeria, as it saw over 35 per cent of direct investments in Africa come to Nigeria, the director-general added that the achievement was not by publicity but by structural design.
“In 2019, the President redesignated and expanded our ministry to cover digital economy and the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami formulated the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a digital Nigeria. These set the stage for the tech ecosystem in Nigeria,” Abdullahi noted.
According to him, FinTech has helped move so many people out of poverty.
“Between 2017 to 2019, we have seen in Nigeria where farmers access money from the government and, also, during the COVID-19, a lot of people could not access the released funds and when you deliver it as cash, it costs much.
“The start-ups are doing fantastically, but the government needs to level the playing field for them to plan better,” the DG remarked.
He went further to stress that government needs to work with the United Nations, World Bank and others to see how they can help build the infrastructure for FinTech, in order to reach the unreachable to be connected.
Moreso, the NITDA boss told the audience that the Start-up Bill which has been passed by the National Assembly and awaiting presidential assent will address almost, if not all the challenges plaguing the tech ecosystem.
Responding to questions regarding Nigeria’s efforts to entrench ESG, Abdullahi explained that the Federal Government has been working assiduously towards creating a conducive environment for startups to thrive, as the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy formulated several policies to help drive the digital economy.
“The policies are start-up ecosystem- friendly. When we talk about digital economy, we need three keys (digital identity, payment system and connectivity) to drive them.
“We have other policies tailored towards the bigger picture, like the National Broadband Plan, Digital Identity Policy and the National Financial Policy which drives the financial inclusion in the country,” Abdullahi maintained.
He avowed that the agency’s developmental regulation will safeguard service providers as much as consumers.
“Without the enabling environment, the ESG alone cannot help them because the ESG, sometimes, [is considered by government to be] self-centric. As a provider, when you come up with any self-regulation or ESG, you do it in a way that would enable you to excel,” he added.