Financial services within the Nigerian digital economy are set to create over three million new jobs and add US$88 billion to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), according to reports from Geneva.
A digital economy summit currently taking place in this city of Switzerland is being attended by ministers of Nigeria, Mexico, Kenya, Argentina, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Uruguay, Chile, Costa Rica and Pakistan.
The meeting, which is being hosted under the auspices of Friends of E-Commerce for Development (FED), is aimed at putting forward a policy agenda to bridge the digital divide as well as provide development solutions in the long term in these developing countries.
The abovementioned job figures are believed to be in line with estimates of a study carried out by McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), reports said, adding that further studies indicate that potential gains of the digital economy will be manifest in digital accounts, payments, mobile money, health and educational services and other sectors of the economy.
Despite the West African nation’s high-publicised status of Africa’s second-largest oil producer behind Angola, the majority of its 170 million live in extreme poverty without jobs, safe drinking water, electricity, and adequate housing, sanitation and healthcare.
Corruption is rife and high levels of unemployment have led to violent crime, including kidnappings for ransom, baby selling business and spectacular armed robberies. Hacking is also to be widespread in a country boasting 150 million active mobile users, 60% of whom are connected to the internet.
Industry, trade and investment minister Dr Okechukwu Enelamah, who led the Nigerian delegation to Geneva, said that his ministry was already developing the “Smart Nigeria Digital Economy Project”, which he said would solve efficiency problems and create leap-frog opportunities in the economy, improve competitiveness and foster technology development and innovation more generally.
“The Smart Nigeria Digital Economy Project is Nigeria’s response to an area of intense economic and technological activity by Nigerian youths, where there is a growing pool of talent,” Enelamah explained.
“It is a sector of the economy where the private sector already has ownership. The role of government would therefore be to ensure a sound pro-competitive regulatory environment and hardware infrastructure to foster rapid growth of this area.”
Photo: Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria.