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A Tech Role Model for Nigeria

India has proved that three policies – lowering the cost of mobile data, implementing a national identification program with an open-source API, and embracing digital payments – are essential to enable tech companies to innovate and grow. As Nigeria attempts to capitalize on its own tech boom, it should pursue a similar approach.

LAGOS – In 2018, African start-ups were celebrating: they had raised nearly $1.2 billion in equity – a 108% increase from the previous year. And last year, Nigerian financial-technology (fintech) companies set an even more impressive record, raising $360 million from international investors in a single month (November). Making the most of the Nigerian tech sector’s current boom, however, will take work. The COVID-19 pandemic should be a spur to action.

Nigeria is certainly on a promising path. Already, it is Africa’s largest technology market by Internet users and mobile subscriptions, and it boasts the second-highest tech-startup density on the continent. Lagos is fast-becoming a tech hub, with more than 400 startups valued at a total of more than $2 billion. Add to that a burgeoning population, and Nigeria is beginning to look to like India five years ago.

India has long been a leading outsourcing destination for global companies, particularly in the technology sector. But it has raised its profile significantly over the last five years, producing 19 “unicorns” (companies valued over $1 billion). On the Global Innovation Index, India has climbed from 81st place in 2015 to 52nd last year, when it was also the world’s third most attractive investment destination for technology transactions. This year, India’s information-technology and back-office sector is expected to grow 7.7%, to $191 billion.

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