Inside 'Bosun Tijani’s plan for Nigeria’s digital economy

'Bosun Tijani has launched a blueprint for Nigeria's digital economy spanning five interconnected pillars: knowledge, policy, infrastructure, innovation, entrepreneurship & capital, and trade.

Inside 'Bosun Tijani’s plan for Nigeria’s digital economy
'Bosun Tijani, Nigeria’s minister of communications, innovation, and digital economy.

In August, CcHUB’s co-founder, 'Bosun Tijani was appointed as Nigeria's minister of communications, innovation and digital economy. Since his appointment, Tijani has embarked on a consultation tour; seeking advice from relevant stakeholders in the industry.

He was part of the presidential delegation to India for the G20 Forum where he signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with India’s ministry of electronics and information technology to share best-in-class digital solutions for the benefit of the citizens of both countries. Thereafter, Tijani also attended the United Nations General Assembly that was held late last month.

Yesterday, he released a blueprint which will be used to judge his performance as minister. According to the whitepaper, the plan is aimed at propelling Nigeria into the digital age and strengthening its economy through technology and innovation.

“We made a commitment to share this document with you all in our spirit of openness and co-creation,” he shared on X. “Our blueprint has been carefully crafted based on extensive engagement with stakeholders from our ministry - departments, units and parastatals, ecosystem stakeholders and my immediate team.”

The blueprint, titled Accelerating Our Collective Prosperity Through Technical Efficiency, revolves around five interconnected pillars: knowledge, policy, infrastructure, innovation, entrepreneurship and capital, and trade. Each of these pillars plays a crucial role in Nigeria's vision for a thriving digital economy.

The key objectives detailed in the blueprint include: 

Training three million tech talents by 2027

Under the knowledge pillar, the Tijani-led ministry has set an ambitious goal to train three million early-to-mid-career technical talents over the next four years. With an unemployment rate of 33% as of 2020, tech educational programs remain credible alternatives to formal tertiary education in helping upskill individuals to compete in the global job market.

This initiative aims to equip Nigerians with tech-enabled and tech-adjacent skills, core tech competencies, and advanced proficiencies. The plan also emphasises job placement for these skilled individuals.

Of these three million individuals, half are slated to remain in Nigeria, contributing to the nation's growing tech ecosystem, while the other half will be encouraged to excel globally, with a focus on remote work opportunities.

Policy and infrastructure transformation

The policy pillar focuses on creating a conducive environment for innovation and entrepreneurship. The government will encourage investment, research, and development, while also protecting intellectual property rights.

Additionally, policies in key areas like artificial intelligence (AI) and telecommunications will be prioritised. Nigeria currently ranks 96th on AI readiness, and the plan aims to elevate the country to the top 50 by 2030.

Under the Infrastructure pillar, the government plans to boost broadband penetration to 70% by the end of 2025, up from the current penetration percentage of 44%. This includes laying 95,000 kilometres of fibre optic cable and introducing a comprehensive Digital Public Infrastructure, featuring 'OneGOV,' a one-stop shop for government services.

Fostering innovation and capital growth

The innovation, entrepreneurship and capital pillar focuses on stimulating startup growth, particularly those addressing critical sectors of Nigeria's economy. Last year, Nigerian startups raised well over 20% of the $3.6 billion total venture capital investment in Africa, according to BD Funding Tracker.

According to the blueprint, the Nigerian government intends to improve on that number, aiming to reach $5 billion annually by 2027.

The plan also includes efforts to increase the domiciliation of local technology startups within the country. This will see the ministry double down on the implementation of the Nigerian Startup Act and programs like the $618 million iDICE fund for tech and digital startups. And also, the introduction of similar initiatives like the Nigerian Digital Economy Bill which the ministry aims to get enacted by 2024.

Positioning Nigeria as a key player in trade globally

The trade pillar aims to position Nigeria as a major player in the African and global technology ecosystem. This involves improving Nigeria's ranking in the Economic Complexity Index in technology, increasing intra-African trade growth by 500% by 2027, and prioritising projects contributing to these goals.

AI and job creation

Tijani's plan also highlights the role of AI in job creation. The government intends to create about 50,000 jobs through AI by 2030, leveraging AI's potential to transform production and service delivery.

He has emphasised the importance of a forward-looking strategy, engaging top AI researchers of Nigerian descent globally to co-create a National AI Strategy. This strategy aims to elevate Nigeria as a top destination for AI model training and talents worldwide.

With a focus on training, policy reform, infrastructure development, innovation, and global positioning, the plan seeks to propel Nigeria into the forefront of the digital age and foster economic growth through technological innovation.

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