At the end of the second quarter of this year, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said that the information and communication technology (ICT) sector contributed 19.54% to Nigeria's real Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
This positions it directly behind the agriculture sector, which was the highest contributor during that period, contributing about 21.1%.
According to NBS, the ICT sector recorded an 18.44% year-on-year growth and a 17.47% quarter-on-quarter growth. Overall, Nigeria's GDP grew by 2.51% in the second quarter of 2023; the growth rate is lower than the 3.54 percent recorded in the same quarter last year.
“The higher contribution to GDP in the ICT sector simply means there are more economic activities in the sector. It does not directly translate to government revenue,” says Abubakar Abdullahi, an economics professor at Usmanu Danfodiyo University in Sokoto. “Transactions in the ICT sector are usually small and informal. They are difficult to document and tax. So the Nigerian government is not earning from ICT as much as it ought to.”
The NBS methodology says the ICT sector comprises the four activities of telecommunications and information services; publishing; motion picture, sound recording, and music production; and broadcasting.
The telecoms sub-sector drove most of the activities in the ICT sector. The telecom industry is dominated by mobile network operators including; MTN, Globalcom, Airtel, 9mobile, and Internet Service Providers.
“Nigeria’s ICT sector has been growing significantly in the past two decades. The use of mobile phones to access the internet and perform many tasks is on the increase globally, not just in Nigeria. But that is the main driver of the growth in the country’s ICT sector,” according to Sheriffdeen Tella, a professor of economics at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye.
Nigeria accounts for 82% of the continent’s telecom subscribers and 29% of internet usage, making it the largest ICT market in Africa, according to the International Trade Administration.