Just in: FG pledges to build Africa’s tech innovation ecosystem
The Nigerian Government through the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy has assured that it would intensify effort at partnering with the industry stakeholders to help evolve, enable broad opportunities, foster innovation and build the African tech innovation ecosystem.
This assurance was made today at the maiden edition of the Global Tech Africa (GTA) Summit, an initiative designed to help Africa transform and ignite a flame of innovation that will illuminate the path towards creating a digital future in the continent.
The event was organised in collaboration with the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), United States Consulate General, Ascends Studios Foundation, and Future Map Foundation.
In his welcome address, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy Dr. William Nwankwo Alo who was represented by the Director of Information Communication Technology, (ICT) Mr. Samuel Okoye noted that the Summit presents a pathway for embarking on a journey to explore the immense opportunities that lies at the intersection of innovation, technology, and human progress.
Dr. Alo emphasised that the potential of technological advancements is to bridge gaps, foster inclusivity, and ignite economic growth, therefore, the Summit catalyses the unlocking of these potentials and empowers Africans to become global leaders in technology.
He said the Pan-African Summit would foster a collective vision and help in harnessing technological power that could uplift communities, improve healthcare, education, access to information, drive sustainable agriculture, and improve innovation in all sectors of the economy.
“Today, we stand on the precipice of a transformative journey — one that will redefine the future of Africa and her people, and I believe with this kind of summit, which has congregated some of the best minds in the industry, we will shape a destiny where access to technology is no longer a privilege but a fundamental right for all Africans,” he added.
On his part, the Director General of NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa CCIE while delivering his keynote address said Africa is blessed with abundant talent, untapped potential, and a vibrant youthful population to play pivotal roles in the global tech ecosystem.
He posits the necessity of recognising the importance of uniting to reap the potential that lies ahead in the areas of e-commerce, fintech, and digital economy in general under the banner of Global Tech Africa (GTA).
Expressing optimism, he said that GTA would provide a powerful platform to unlock all these opportunities in Africa; though he expressed some skepticism about this, but he is convinced that with the playbook that has been developed to propel the realisation of these potentials, and has identified three steps that would ensure the unlocking of these potentials in a digital economy.
He believed that there is no reason for Africa to be left out in this Fourth Industrial Revolution after being left out in the first, second and third Industrial Revolutions.
“The Fourth Industrial Revolution is about talent and technology. In Africa, we have the talent. The developed world has the technology. Technology will not work without talent; therefore, they need us to develop the technology while we need the technology to boast our economy,” he said.
While noting the need for talent development in Africa by saying that by 2030, there is going to be 85 million talent deficits globally, which will result in 8.5 trillion US dollars annualised value, Inuwa maintained that “Nigeria have proven that we have the talent. We have done that in sports, the music industry, the film industry, and we can do it in the technology ecosystem.”
He called for the need to embrace and create value via the ecosystem, saying that no one succeeds in isolation.
He said, “Looking at it globally, innovation is not evenly distributed but in clusters as ecosystem; therefore, the reason for this platform is to create a strong ecosystem in Nigeria and in Africa by partnering with all the key stakeholders that are captured under five categories in the ecosystem.
He listed the ecosystem partners as the high institutions that produce human capital, corporate organisations that absorb the human capital, entrepreneurs who can start and grow businesses, venture capital that can invest in those innovative ideas and lastly the government that makes policies and provide infrastructure in un-served and underserved communities.
Referring to the World Intellectual Property Organisation, (WIPO), the Director General noted that innovation ecosystem is worth more than five billion US dollars.
Citing Coferry report, Inuwa said a country or a region with a strong innovation ecosystem creates jobs at twice the rate of countries or regions with a weak innovation ecosystem, adding that according to Statista, digitally transformed enterprises contributed 13.5 trillion US dollars to the global GDP in 2018 and are projected to contribute 53.3 trillion US dollars this year, in 2023.
“That means innovation is winning when it comes to wealth creation, and we need the ecosystem to be able to benefit from it. This is what we are trying to build with GTA,” he said.
Apologetically he asserts that currently, the ecosystem is weak and needs to be reinvented through rebuilding the trust among stakeholders to aid the social contract within the system.
He described the government’s role from two angles as the rule-based and non-rule-based regulations. Stating that the objectives of all regulatory instruments are to create a market to enable innovation within the ecosystem, protect consumers and make service delivery more efficient.
In his conclusion, he appealed to the audience to welcome the goals of GTA Summit as a platform that places Africans at the forefront of innovation, growth, and prosperity.
“As a nation and continent, together we can make it possible; and together, we can unlock the boundless potentials in our continent, forging a future where technology drives positive change and creates opportunities for all,” Inuwa assured.
Other speakers at the event were, Will Stevens, the United State Consular General; Steffi Czerny, Co-founder, Digital Life Design (DLD); Bunmi Akinyemiju, Co-founder, Venture Garden Group; Emmanuel Tarfa, GTA Team and the Chief Convener, Dr Inya Lawal.
L-R: Tonye Princewill, CEO RivExcel Healthcare; Steffi Czerny, the founder DLD; Buntingford Akinyemiju, Co-founder, Venture Garden group; Dr. Inya Lawal; Will Stephens, the U.S. Consul General; Kashifu Inuwa, DG NITDA; Jordan Bjallerstedt, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Sweden, Abuja