Minister advocates diversification of Nigerian economy through innovative technology

Salamatu Ejembi, Lagos

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The application of technology and innovation can aid Nigeria in diversifying from its heavy reliance on a single sector like the oil industry.

This is according to the Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani, who stated this during a tech event in New York themed; Invest in Africa’s Future- Let’s talk about exits.

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Tijani, who said Nigeria had been grappling with its over-dependence on oil in the last few years, noted that reducing the over-dependence on oil would require increasing productivity in other sectors.

He reiterated the commitment of President Bola Tinubu to innovation and technology, stating that there are intentions to collaborate with Nigerian Exchange Limited to stimulate startup listings with the newly created NGX Technology Board.

Set goals by the Minister

The Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy listed some of his goals and ambitions for Nigeria as follows;

● creation of a regulatory environment for fintech,
● access to funding especially from angel investors,
● improve digital infrastructure,
● facilitate the export of tech products and services and
● collaborate with NGX on tailored listing options for startups via its Technology Board.

Tijani however said “We cannot do all of this as a country if we do not prioritise innovation and encourage entrepreneurs to build. Nigeria is now open to investments. We want to prioritise the ability of our technology companies to export products and we are targeting Africa first and then eventually start selling to the rest of the world”.

At the same event, the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Exchange, NGX, Temi Popoola, stated that the Exchange would work assiduously to support the agenda of the Minister and the mandate of President Bola Tinubu.

Stating that technology was a big enabler of the capital market, Popoola said that NGX was keen on fostering innovation in the capital market, potentially attracting a larger pool of investors and mature tech companies to list on its platform.

Explaining the challenges around listings, he stated that the demand for private capital currently outweighs public capital while revealing that the NGX is in discussions with the Securities and Exchange Commission on private markets to enable the exchange to do business with non-listed companies like startups.

“We will continue to do a lot of work that makes us able to attract local capital and the day tech start-ups come to the exchange, we are confident that there would be a very good audience of investors that would want to own a bit of their shares. This is what we at NGX are doing by removing all barriers for that to happen,” he stated.

Also speaking at the event was the CEO, of Flutterwave, Olugbenga Agboola who noted that his company was focused on the Nigeria project as most of its investable capital had been deployed to Nigeria since inception.

Agboola added that the company would be looking at tapping opportunities created by the markets to scale and further deliver value to its customers and investors.

The Chief Executive Officer of Chapel Hill Denham, Mr Bolaji Balogun expressed optimism that the Nigerian investment community would get the opportunity to participate in the capital formation going on in the tech sector, rather than all the intellectual property that will emanate from it being controlled by foreign markets.

The event was a joint initiative by the Nigerian Ministry of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, the Nigerian Exchange and Future Africa, supported by Stanbic IBTC, CardinalStone Partners and Chapel Hill Denham.

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