GITEX showcases Nigeria’s readiness for IT investments
Nigeria’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry is bound to witness influx of global investors, who have expressed willingness to come into the economy to invest in different segments of the nation’s ICT sector over the next 12 months.
Most of the investors, who have indicated interest in coming to Nigeria to invest in the nation’s IT industry based their judgment on the quantum of information and quality of engagement they had with the Nigerian delegation at the just-concluded Gulf Information Technology Exhibition (GITEX) Technology Week 2017 held at the Dubai World Trade Centre in Dubai.
Nigerian government participates at the yearly conference through representation by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), an agency of the Federal Ministry of Communications responsible for IT policies formulation, implementation regulation by the entire country.
Though this year’s edition of the programme, which ran October 8 and 12, was the 37th edition in the series, it was actually the fifth to be attended by Nigeria, through NITDA, having started attending the conference since 2013.
Leading this year’s delegation as the Director-General of NITDA, Dr. Isa Pantami, who, in collaboration with other government officials cutting across lawmakers, captains of IT industry, CEOs of IT companies as well as other government officials in attendance, were at the Nigerian Pavilion to engage potential investors.
Wooing the investors
The African Investment Forum, organised by NITDA, in collaboration with the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), took place on October 11 and it was an exclusive feature of GITEX serving as a platform to highlight not only ICT investment opportunities in Nigeria and Africa but also discuss and explore start-up ecosystem.
Investors from United States, Germany, Indian and many other countries from within Africa and Nigeria, who attended the forum and subsequently expressed investment in Nigeria, were able to witness first-hand some of the most innovative start-up in Africa and hear about the IT developments in the region in the field of Internet of Things (IoT), cloud, drones and many more.
Speaking at the African Investment Forum, specially organised to discuss investment opportunities in the country with potential investors, Pantami called on global investment community to consider Nigeria a worthwhile investment haven for IT business.
Pantami told a large audience of investors that that there was an enabling environment created by the Buhari administration’s Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PBEC), for businesses to thrive in Nigeria.
He explained particularly clear all the misconceptions about doing business in Nigeria especially in the area of security of life and property, stressing the problem of insecurity has been fought significantly and that investors have been having safe business operations contrary to false information on the Internet.
Aside the opportunity for Visa on arrival which Nigerian offers investors, Pantami unveiled the huge untapped market in the Nigeria’s ICT market, buttressing is positions with relevant statistics.
According to him, ICT sector currently contributed 11.27 per cent to the total nominal GDP in the 2nd Quarter of 2017, stressing that while they are guaranteed better returns on investment, Nigeria will also benefit by boosting its gross domestic product (GDP) contribution from IT through such investment.
Startups as focal investment point
The investment forum, which took place on October 11, was an exclusive feature of GITEX and it served as a platform to discuss the current start-up eco-system in Nigeria and Africa at large.
For instance, the 10 tech startups from Nigeria, sponsored to the conference by NITDA, through the Office for IT Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIIE), a subsidiary of the agency, also were on hand to showcase their innovative IT solutions to the investors, who immediately showed investment interests in some of the startups.
The startups, which include Nicademia, SIX, Tattara, Accounteer, Beat Drone, Cloudoria, Dropque, MyPadi, Ward Monitor and MTK E-Learning, outstandingly represented Nigeria at the event, which is a global rallying ground for funding startups and exposing innovators to mentors and venture capitalists.
According to Pantami, NITDA’s OIIE has hunted talents and supported promising Nigerian startups in the ICT towards developing the ecosystem.
Addressing the investors, the NITDA DG said, “The activities of the OIIE have enabled the ICT startup innovation ecosystem in Nigeria to grow at a remarkable pace. One of our startups- Genie Games- won the 2nd position at the keenly contested Startup Movement Competition at GITEX 2016.
“Many Nigerian startups have also won plaudits from home and abroad. For example, HopStop, an online city transit App acquired by Apple for a whopping $1 billion, was owned by a Nigerian-born Entrepreneur. Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, visited Nigeria last year and had very complimentary things to say about the quality of ICT talent in the country. His foundation also provided $24 million funding for Andella, a Nigerian company focussed on building World-Class Software Development Teams.
“Konga.com, a Nigerian e-commerce company, attracted over $65 million funding in 2014. Also, out of a record-breaking total of $366.8 million raised by African startups in 2016, investments in Nigerian startups had the largest share of $109.4 million.
“These investment stories underscore the viability of the Nigerian startups and the capacity of Nigerians to conceive ingenious ideas. We invite you, our potential investors, to take advantage of this massive talent pool as you invest in Nigeria,” he added.
Promising RoI, other incentives
The DG added that more than 50 per cent of what they (potential investors) needed to assembly product towards localising and domesticating their IT investments can be sourced from Nigeria, saying there is tax-friendly policy to support the investors in Nigeria.
Buttressing the DG from legislative perspectives, House Committee Chairman on Information Technology, Onawo Ogoshi and Senate Committee Chairman on ICT and Cybersecurity, Abdul-Fatai Buhari, said the Nigerian government, through the two legislative chambers, has been creating enabling legal environments to ensure higher returns on investment (RoI) through a number of legislations-backed initiatives to guarantee fewer risks on investments.
Senior Special Adviser to the President on Information and Communications Technology, Lanre Osibona, who moderated panel discussions at the investment forum, added that government has been working towards ensuring that the ease of doing business in Nigeria is enhanced in for existing and potential investors.
Localising IT products, services
President, Nigerian Computer Society (NCS), Prof. Adesola Aderounmu, however, explained that coming to Nigeria to invest will also require those investors thinking of domesticating their IT products and services by striving to open manufacturing assembly or physical office in the country.
“We have humongous human talent in Nigeria and the kind of investment we need is from those who are willing to build manufacturing plants in the country. We are tired of importation especially when you could manufacture all of your IT products in Nigeria,” he said.
Both the Managing Director of Galaxy Backbone, Kazaure and Chief Executive Officers of Nigeria Communications Satellite (NigComSat) Limited, Ms Abimbola Alale, said there is abundant infrastructure in Nigeria even as they stressed that their investment will also be needed in such area as telecoms infrastructure (InfraCos) segment to help deepen the he huge bandwidth capacity lying largely untapped in Nigeria.
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