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Digital Economy: FG putting the cart before the horse at home, in Silicon Valley?

Whereas the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah in Silicon Valley, US weekend, said Nigerian digital economy is projected to generate $88billion and create up to three million jobs in the next three years,  industry have raised a caveat to the projection.

According to them, the multibillion dollar generation and millions of jobs will only be possible if and only if the same federal government reach deal with state governments to waive Right of Way (RoW) payments which telecoms services providers say are much higher than their budget in the delivery of broadband.

Already, latest statistics on the target of the National Broadband Plan (NBP), show that the 30 per cent broadband penetration by end of 2018 is no longer feasible due to issues surrounding RoW in states and even forex restrictions on some strategic telecoms equipment.

In an interview, the President of ATCON, Engr. Olusola Teniola argued that it would pay the government better if it can prevail on states to step down any form of taxes on RoW so that submarine cables that had landed on Lagos seashores can go upland and power digital affordability and availability.

So experts argue that going to US to say what the economy will gain when the needed conditions are not in place means putting the cart before the horse which simply suggests that there would be no movement after all.

Dr. Enelamah who spoke at the “Invest In Nigeria” Summit – Silicon Valley – Palo Alto, California, USA, said Nigerian government was resolute, almost to near obsession, in creating an enabling environment where digital economy opportunities are not just theoretical but become real.

The Nigerian delegation led by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, includes senior government officials, regulators and leading companies in the area of innovation.

He said apart from more than doubling in size over the past nine years, technology now accounts for nine percent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

According to him, “From the $20million fundraise in Andela, to $10million fundraise in Flutterwave, to the $7million in SureRemit via a blockchain ICO, $1.1million in Piggybank.

A statement issued by Bisi Daniels, Strategy and Communications Adviser to the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment said the investors were assured about the entrepreneurial spirit of young Nigerians, but was silent on the cost and availability of data services via broadband.

The minister averred that “Today we have brought you some of our best from the government, from the private sector, technology companies, local finance, policymakers. I hope this leaves no doubt as to our commitment to establishing a winning partnership with you in Nigeria’s technology ecosystem.”

“The primary purpose of the visit is towards attracting investments into Nigeria’s burgeoning technology space.

“It follows the Vice President’s inauguration last month of the Advisory Group on Technology and Creativity, established by President Muhammadu Buhari as part of an effort to boost industrial policies and competitiveness for the country.

“The committee has a good number of private sector members with roots in one technology operations or the other. As our source would reveal, the Vice President’s entourage comprises a number of tech-savvy entrepreneurs from that advisory board.

Dr. Enelamah noted that “The trip to US, was designed to showcase to the world the progress and strides in the country’s technology, innovation and creative space by Nigerian start-ups and entertainment industry practitioners”.