It’s 2024. Can Technology Drive a New Nigerian Economy?

  • By Emeka Orjih, Technical Adviser on International Cooperation & Finance to Uche Geoffrey Nnaji, Minister of Innovation, Science and Technology, Nigeria.

Some 20+ years ago, in what keen observers have described as a “leapfrog” and as “the telecom revolution”, Nigeria leapfrogged from 400 thousand landlines to 80 million mobile lines in months. It remains the largest singular developmental stride Nigeria has taken in its 63 years of existence. Structured mass adoption of new technology enabled Nigeria to circumvent normal step-by-step processes to arrive at its destination ahead of time, and ahead of others who were there before them in the Telecom Industry.

Nigeria's Minister of innovation, Science & Technology

Deploying similar strategies, Nigeria can achieve similar outcomes in Clean Energy and Power, and in different areas of Technology. Take  Artificial Intelligence (AI). McKinsey estimates that by the year 2030, the global AI economy will be at $16 trillion annually. (That’s larger than the entire American economy!)

So what will it take for Nigeria to stamp the AI revolution like we did in the Telecoms revolution?
I put this question to Ray Sharma a few weeks ago over dinner in an artsy and eclectic restaurant in London’s Tech City or Silicon Roundabout. Ray is one of earth’s most aggressive Technology Venture Capitalists with successes that include Expedia and Tinder. Ray agreed with me that primarily, it will take human resource.

Human resource is Nigeria’s abundant blessing. After India and China, Nigeria has the highest number of skilled Tech workforce in the diaspora. That’s an army waiting to be unleashed on the innovative gateway.

What about the in-country population?  A whopping 160 million youth – below the age of 35. The vast majority of whom are smart, hungry, innovative, and trainable. Such a resource wealth can catapult any nation on earth when intention and strategy align. Recruit them and funnel them into Frontier Technologies. AI. Blockchain. Robotics. IoT, and the like.

Should Nigeria unleash her potential upon the AI space, with a modest ambition to capture 0.1% of the value of that emerging industry, in just 5 years, she would have created a $16 billion a year industry. And from just AI! Add  Blockchain Technology, Fintech, IoT, Robotics, Clean Tech, Methanol and Hydrogen Production, etc, then you begin to envisage a horizon of endless possibilities.

What’s my point?
With her huge, young, smart, innovative and teachable workforce, plus a seemingly insatiable global tech market, Nigeria could create the kind of alternative national wealth and economy that will dwarf her entire budget and present economy.

Technology enables us to leapfrog, to deliver a Technology revolution, and create a new Nigeria with our international partners.

EdenBase (with Domineum) is partnering with us to create Tech Ecosystems like it did with London Tech City and in Switzerland. We are building out manufacturing capacity for Methanol and EV lithium-ion batteries. These will lay the foundation for our proposed AI-driven Renewable Smart Mini Grids to power our Innovation Parks and Tech Cities plus trigger massive manufacturing (Additive and Green) in partnership with Germany’s IMAPS Institute for Material Applications. We are building out the BPO (and other outsourcing) industry and will partner to prepare millions of Nigerian youth for careers in diverse technology-driven spaces ranging from the soft (data, AI, blockchain, etc) to the hard (hardware skills, welding, digital production, etc). We have partnered to develop and launch the world’s first mass V2X project where we manufacture/assemble Electric Vehicles (EV), powered by Renewable Energy (RE) with bi-directional charging/discharging capabilities that enables your EV to act as a generator that powers homes or factories after performing its ‘car duties’ of ferrying you around. Now that’s what a leapfrog looks like.

Clean energy and Intelligent RE Minigrids – powering and driving manufacturing. Productive Tech ecosystems – partnering world class institutions to trigger innovative startups on scale. These will drive the unleashing of the creativity of Nigeria’s enormous, smart, innovative and youthful population. They, in turn will drive the emergence of the new Nigerian economy, independent of fossil fuels, and constructed on the altar of Innovation, Science & Technology.

In 2024, Nigeria is truly open for business – the Business of Technology, Clean Technology. Those who missed the opportunities unearthed by Nigeria’s telecom revolution some two-decades ago, now have the opportunity to get on board this boundless Tech Revolution in the largest untapped single market on planet earth.

Is it possible to deliver these and more on scale? Can Nigeria leapfrog her way to near the front of the line in clean energy and power generation, green manufacturing and outsourcing?

You bet!
And in Nigeria’s Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology, Minister Uche Nnaji is betting on it too.

Contact:
Emeka Orjih, MBA (Wharton), Technical Adviser on International Cooperation & Finance to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Technology, Nigeria. emeka.orjih@scienceandtech.gov.ng

The Federal Ministry of Innovation, Science and TechnologyNigeria is one of the strategic Ministries of Government with the responsibility of facilitating the development and deployment of Innovative Science and Technology to enhance the pace of Socio-economic development of the country. www.scienceandtech.gov.ng

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