NITDA DG highlights FG’s investor-friendly reforms at 2023 Collision Conference.

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Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, the Director General/CEO, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), highlighted federal government’s investor-friendly administrative reforms at the recently concluded Collision Conference, held at the Enercare Centre, Toronto, Canada, from 26th to 29th June 2023.

Mr. Inuwa who was in attendance as a Special Guest, participated in several sessions and delivered a speech on How to Foster Healthy Tech Ecosystems.

The DG represented by Dr Usman Gambo Abdullahi, Director, of Information Technology Infrastructure Solutions, used the opportunity to highlight key Federal Government’s investor-friendly reforms that are making Nigeria the destination of choice for foreign investors.

According to a statement by Mrs. Hadiza Umar, Head, of Corporate Affairs and External Relations, NITDA, Inuwa informed that Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy with the sixth largest population in the world; it is being projected to be the third largest population in the world and one of the world’s top 10 economies by 2050, surpassing the economies of countries like France, the UK, Germany, and Saudi Arabia. That the country is an excellent investment destination for investors thinking about investing in Africa. That the country is strategically located and positioned between West and Central Africa and serves as Africa’s business hub with easy access to other regions of the world.

The NITDA boss further informed that Nigeria has been regarded as Africa’s largest digital technologies market with 82% of the continent’s telecommunication subscribers and 29% of internet usage. That Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to be the fastest-growing region with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 4.6% and an additional subscriber enrolment of over 167 million in the next five years.

Realizing these potentials, Inuwa said, the Federal Government of Nigeria made deliberate efforts to attract investors through strategic reforms aimed at creating a business-friendly environment. The key to these reforms was the setting up of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) in July 2016, aimed at improving the business environment in Nigeria. That the Council worked towards eliminating critical bottlenecks and procedural restrictions to doing business in the country as well as attracting foreign direct investment.

The DG further indicated that through the efforts of PEBEC’s Chairman, the former Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the Council was able to implement a series of reforms that include providing tax-free incentives, free fiscal duty for imported goods, machinery, and equipment, exemption from levies, the opportunity for foreigners wholly own enterprises and being exempted from expatriate quota, as well as simplifying regulations and making it easier for businesses to start and operate. That these reforms resulted in an unprecedented improvement in Nigeria’s ranking in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index, from 169 with a score of 48.40% in 2016 to 131 with a score of 56.90% in 2019, growing at an average annual rate of 4.17%.

Inuwa informed that to effectively harness the country’s digital technologies market and beyond, Federal Government re-designated the Federal Ministry of Communications to Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy in October 2019. With the re-designation, the Ministry’s mandate was expanded to capture the goals of digitalization of the Nigerian economy in line with Federal Government’s economic reform initiatives. Furthermore, the launching and unveiling of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a Digital Nigeria, with the vision of transforming Nigeria into a leading digital economy, providing quality life and digital economies for all a month later, was a turning point for the country.

The DG outlined other reforms to include the Nigeria Startup Act and the ongoing plans to kick-start its full implementation, which will further strengthen the ecosystem and create an enabling environment for the development and growth of Startups, the National Digital Talent Strategy which aims to position Nigeria as one of the largest tech talent factory in the world, the National Blockchain Policy developed to help Nigeria’s transition into the digital economy by using Blockchain technology in boosting innovation, improving public services, creating job opportunities, reducing corruption and driving economic growth, the National Blockchain Adoption Strategy which aims to harness a $1.76 Trillion Global Economy by 2030, driving sector-wide adoption, and generating 250,000 Jobs by 2024, the National Outsourcing Strategy implementation aimed at creating about 5 Million jobs by 2027, increase revenue, and attract FDI through a thriving global outsourcing industry, and the National Data Strategy which aims at creating a Data Analytics industry, drive security and economic growth with a ₦‎20 trillion Data Market by 2025.

Inuwa informed that the current administration is committed to these and many more reforms are expected in the coming months. To buttress this, Mr Inuwa made reference to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s inauguration speech on May 29th, 2023, part of which was where he said “…I have a message for our investors, local and foreign; our government shall review all complaints about multiple taxation and anti-investment policies. And review various anti-investment inhibitions…” Further, that Mr President’s participation at the New Global Finance Pact Summit in Paris, held between 22nd and 23rd June 2023, was strategic and aimed at wooing the international community to invest in Nigeria. He, therefore, encouraged those in attendance to look the way of Nigeria in their investment plans.

The Collision Conference, tagged “The Olympics of Tech”, is one of the world’s biggest tech conferences and brings together Fortune companies, groundbreaking startups, world-class speakers, and the people redefining the global tech industry. The 2023 event attracted more than 36,000 attendees from 118 countries.