Nigeria is currently wooing foreign investors, especially technology giants, to the country at the maiden LEAP 2022 technology conference and exhibition, organised by the Ministry of Communications and Technology, Saudi Arabia.
Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, disclosed this to journalists, recently, on the sidelines of the event in Riyadh.
Pantami’s delegation includes Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, and Director-General, National Information and Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Inuwa Kashifu Abdullai, among others.
He encouraged Nigerians to have a positive mindset towards everything, especially development, stressing that apart from opportunity to woo investors, the major take away from the event would be the need for optimism in transforming the country whenever the chance arises.
“Whoever comes to Saudi Arabia after about four visits would see the power of positive thinking and transformation that has taken place here, especially in the digital economy sector. Their institutions are no more obsolete. They have become proactive in everything,” he said.
He revealed that the delegation met with investors and potential investors, after series of meetings, on how they can come to Nigeria and invest.
“There are signings already. Also, there are promises that they are coming to invest their manufacturing plants in the country. We were able to sell the advantages we have in the country to them, which include being the biggest economy in Africa, most populous in the region, and an economy that is doing well now, especially looking at the way the country exited recession, leaving behind many developed countries.
“So, these are some of the encouraging statistics that we have sold to investors. These are indices investors want to hear.
Though, there could be some one or two observations and reservations about the country, we are taking those ones back and we will work on them. We will ensure that we make the Nigerian system more flexible and friendly so that we can have a win-win situation,” he stated.
Pantami said some countries also indicated interest to come and see how Nigeria’s digital economy is working. According to him, “Nigeria’s has become a model today in Africa. The first meeting I had, they were surprised that we have six unicorns from Nigeria, with others still coming. The fastest growing sector of the Nigerian economy, today, is the digital economy sub-sector.
“Mr. President has said severally that it is the sector that led many times to Nigeria exiting recession. These are some of the encouraging statistics we shared with them and we equally picked one or two things from them. We learnt that there are over 100 countries here for the event. There are several tech giants too.”
The minister didn’t name these companies. At the event, however, were technology firms including IBM, Huawei, Nokia, Microsoft, Ericsson, Cisco, Mobily, Zoom, SAP among others.
Earlier, the Director, House of Mandela Family Foundation, Dr. Makaziwe Mandela, appealed to technology giants to make Africa a destination, stressing that huge opportunities lie in South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria and other sub-Saharan countries.
Mandela was, however, quick to say that collaboration and governments’ resolve would play critical roles in bringing technology giants to Africa.
Speaking on ‘The importance of tech in developing countries,’ she stressed the fact that though the continent is still faced with so many challenges, there are “immense opportunities for growth, expansion and profitability.”
According to her, access and affordability gaps in the region provide opportunities for improved Internet access, which can be delivered by technology companies through collaborations with indigenous players.
She said only about 40 per cent of the entire African population has access, “meaning that about 60 per cent are still without basic telephony services. This is a huge market that can be latched on by technology companies. The global community can make use of technology to get Africa to the world stage of development.”