The Policy Innovation Centre (PIC) an initiative of the Nigerian Economic Group (NESG) hosted the second edition of The Stakeholder’s Formative Dialogue For The Digital Transformation Programme in Nigeria on Wednesday, July 13, 2022, in Lagos.
The first of the PIC program was held in Abuja and saw the participation of majorly the public sector, especially representatives from all the federal ministries.
However, the Lagos edition supported by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) saw a mix of both the public and private sector from Government MDAs, ICT professional bodies, digital-inclusion startups and corporates from the digital spaces.
The event themed, “Inclusive Digital Transformation through the Digital Access Programme”, saw different stakeholders discuss their expert opinions on the topic.
In his introductory remarks, Chris Abhulimen, DAP Sector Mobilization Specialist, PIC said that the whole idea of this digital access program is to bring key stakeholders into a roundtable to review financial policies, strategies and different mechanisms or models to drive Nigeria’s digital economy.
According to Chris, the idea of the Lagos program is to look at some thematic areas related to the digital economy.
Setting the stage, Chris posed the following questions, How do we leverage the Nigerian National Broadband Plan?How do we unlock the value from some policies, like the zero rights of way infrastructure?
How do we drive foreign and local investment because lots of people don’t seem to understand how to invest in tech?Whatdo we do to unlock the values that come from investments?How do we see the Nigerian startup bill, which is the government’s responsibility?
This is the view that we want to pass to stimulate this ecosystem. How do we bring inclusion to people who are living with disabilities? How can we bring everybody to the table so that we can have a sustainable digital economy?
Speaking on the UK Government’s support for Nigeria’s Digital Economy, Guy Harrison, Economic Counselor to the UK Government who represented the FCDO, relayed the time he had spent in Lagos, Nigeria in relation to the growth observed in terms of information, communication and technology.
“To put this into context, there has been a 15%, contribution from the ICT sector to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This is an indication that ICT is not for tomorrow, it is Nigeria’s today because it’s already contributing more oil sector, when we think about that, we know that ICT is therefore critical to the economy, in its own right as a sector but also as an enabler.”
“We’ve seen very exciting developments in the last few years and lots of investment, that’s the positive side, we’ve seen the expansion of the existing cable network, which arrived at the shore of Lagos.”
As explained by Harrison, The UK government deputy high commissioner here in Lagos is working with a couple of businesses in outsourcing and also expanding them internationally.
“And this surely is an exciting sub-sector of the tech sector, which can help create jobs. But it’s important to realize that this is a work in progress. If done right, the digital economy will help everybody.”
According to Harrison, in other areas, Nigeria’s digital economy has benefited from the UK Government including the UK-Nigeria tech hub that provides support for the tech ecosystem, the security Exchange Commission, with tech financial regulation, and the energy regulator to encourage the rollout of digital solutions such as smart meters.
Helping the Rural Electrification Agency with mapping sites, and supporting the federal government to grow its 5G National Broadband Plan, which will help expand Nigeria’s broadband connectivity.
“There is an entrepreneurial talent that we see across Nigeria, particularly in Lagos. This is important and shows the possibility of a bright future in a way that tech can continue to develop, but also to drive growth”, Harrison added.
Delivering the first keynote on the topic, Policy and Development Regulation for Digital Economy of Lagos State, the Senior Special Adviser to Governor on Science and Technology, Lagos State, Engr. Saheed Balogun discussed the efforts of the state government in ensuring an increase in broadband penetration through fiber access while also initiating open block projects across the state.
While also equipping schools in Lagos state with digital infrastructure, Saheed mentioned the efforts of the government in creating an enabling environment for startups in the state.
The second keynote address on The Importance of Private Sector Players in Creating a Sustainable Digital Economy was delivered by Joel Ogunsola, CEO Prunedge.
While mentioning the role of NESG through PIC in driving the country’s digital economy, the role of the private sector likewise is too significant to get underestimated.
“The private sector business in partnership with other relevant entities dominate the elements within the data economy, from fintech companies to individuals to accelerators, the private sector as well as to the current growth that we see today in Nigeria”
“There will be a need to initiate more public-private platforms, to align discuss ideas and exhibit solutions relevant to our local context.”, Joel added
The third keynote on Leveraging Gender and Inclusion for Digital Economic Growth in Nigeria was delivered by Oladiwura Oladepo, Executive Director, Tech4Dev.
Dr. Osasuyi Dirisu, Deputy Director at PIC/NESG gave a presentation on the Digital Acess Programme before a breakout session which saw a discussion on sustainability in the digital economy, broadband access and infrastructure, foreign and local investment, inclusion and digital divide.
The event concluded with closing remarks from Faisal Naru, the Executive Director of PIC.