Nigeria is blessed with a population of over 200 million people, but her GDP per capita was just $2058 (USD) in 2021. When compared to countries with similar structural challenges such as Peru and Brazil with GDP per capita at $6,692 and $7518 respectively, Nigeria is grossly sub-optimizing its citizens.
Nigeria can accelerate economic growth, lift its citizens out of poverty and quadruple its GDP per capita in four years if she treats her population as her most important asset (not oil and gas) and redirects national planning to optimize productivity of her population. We strongly believe that digital technologies should be an integral part of achieving these objectives.
Digital technologies significantly increase productivity when deployed appropriately. Data from the World Bank and other global financial inclusion watch dogs indicate that digital tools empower people and help the poor unlock business growth and build financial health. This paper makes a case for how an incoming government in Nigeria can strategically leverage digital technologies to unlock the productivity of her citizens and accelerate economic growth. The paper provides some examples such as Unified Payment Interface (UPI), fractional investing, e-auctions and gig-work, but these are not in any way exhaustive. The overall intent is to elicit further discussion and a deeper dive into how simple digital technologies can accelerate Nigeria’s economic growth. Lastly, the intent is not to digitize every aspect of the Nigerian economy. Since a new government needs to establish credibility very quickly, we have selected a limited number of areas where digital technologies can unlock value as quickly as possible.
Start with the Industries which employ 87.3% of Nigerians and make them more productive. Wholesale/Retail Trade and Agriculture employ 53% and 34.3% of Nigerians respectively. 96% of these employers are micro enterprises which employ 1-10 people on the average and generate an annual turnover of less than $100,000. We recommend deploying digital technologies to eliminate friction and inefficiency in the value chains of these two Industries. This could have the greatest impact on economic growth within the shortest possible time. One of such critical areas is payments. Micro enterprises have low value transactions. For them, bank transfer charges and payment service fees pose significant transaction costs. For this reason, they transact predominantly in cash, which is inherently inefficient. Transacting in cash also keeps them in the shadow economy and locks them out from accessing more comprehensive financial tools and resources that could make their businesses grow. One solution to eliminate this friction and inefficiency is replicating India’s Unified Payment Interface (UPI) in Nigeria. UPI is a digital interface which anyone, can use to transfer money between bank accounts or digital wallets across a single window. This means one can send or receive money or scan a quick response (QR) code to pay an individual, a merchant or a service provider to shop, pay bills or authorize payments. It is simple, instantaneous, and most importantly free. Because it is free, even Indian fruit and vegetable merchants (see picture below), with very low value transactions such as $2 and below can make and receive payments digitally without incurring bank charges and payment service fees.
This moves more transactions from cash to electronic payments and exponentially expands the size of the formal market. India launched UPI in 2016 and, in October 2022 alone, 7.3 billion transactions valued at $144 billion were processed through UPI. Banks and fintechs in India such as PayTM and Google Pay provide their apps as the gateways to access UPI but do not charge customers for making payments on UPI. Instead, they compete in providing other services such as Credit and Insurance to customers. We have enough banks and fintech companies which can do the same in Nigeria. All we need is for the Nigerian Interbank Settlement System to be given the mandate to create a UPI Portal.
Prioritize capital projects in Wholesale / Retail and Agriculture and give Nigerians the opportunity to invest in them. For example, a road that links farming communities to markets need not be built and / or its concession owned by one entity. This is a recipe for rent capture which concentrates wealth in a few hands and truncates the trickledown effect of economic growth. By utilizing digital technologies, the government can convert such a road to an investable asset open to all Nigerians through fractional investing, thus devolving opportunity rather than concentrating it in a few hands. If a vulcanizer can invest N5000 in a road project and earn returns from tolls on the road, this provides economic empowerment at the grassroots level.
Actual construction of the road can also be fractionalized and opened to several indigenous companies via an auction on an electronic marketplace thus creating employment for more people. Companies like Jumia already run marketplaces in Nigeria thus and can provide knowledge on how to replicate this for construction work.
Facilitate a service-driven remote work/gig-economy. 25.7 million Nigerians between ages 20 and 49 are digital natives who already own smartphones (data from Statista.com). This is more than the population of the Netherlands, Sweden or Belgium. A large proportion of this demographic is today unemployed, underemployed, or exploring emigration. It is unlikely that the economy will create enough new formal jobs to employ 100% of this demographic in four years.
We recommend that the government deliberately enters strategic demand-side partnerships with foreign companies or sovereign entities which have significant net demand for workers, especially in Technology, Finance and Professional services jobs suited for remote work This should be complemented by supply-side partnerships with Tech companies such as Google and Microsoft, and local companies such as Outsource Global which are already providing remote business process outsourcing services for offshore companies .
They can train and certify the people and provide a bridge for placing them in remote roles for offshore companies. According to the Economist, Argentina wants to launch a preferential exchange rate for remote workers selling their skills abroad and earning dollars: such a “tech dollar rate ” would ensure that they were not exposed to currency devaluation. Nigeria may consider such to encourage FX repatriation from remote workers.
Eliminate friction and bottlenecks in critical government services.
Nigerians waste a significant amount of time and resources in seeking basic services from several government agencies. They experience delays and demand for bribes when renewing a driver’s license, processing a national ID, a Nigerian passport, reporting a security incident or registering property title. Unlike private entities where employee salaries and career progression are generally aligned with customer satisfaction, this is not the case in public Nigerian agencies. We recommend an intervention comprising: pay for performance, an appointment and queue management system and a customer satisfaction rating. In the agencies providing the services referred to above, we recommend converting the existing employee salary grid to a combination of a guaranteed and variable component. Ideally the ratio should be 60%-70% as guaranteed salary and 30% – 40% as variable pay. The variable portion should be paid based on a sliding scale of satisfaction ratings by Nigerians who use the services of these agencies.
Read also:Unlocking Nigeria’s economic potential: Overcoming structural barriers
With this proposed grid, the higher the rating a policeman or immigration official receives from customers, the more of the variable portion he/she is paid. Over time more salary budget should be allocated to high performers such that a highly rated policeman should be able to double or triple his or her base salary. When delivering good service pays, productivity rises dramatically. With this in place, the next step would be creating simple but effective digitally enabled appointment scheduling, queue management and post-visit customer satisfaction surveys. No doubt, tackling endemic corruption in Nigeria will require several other systemic initiatives; however, these simple interventions can provide quick wins where it is needed the most.
Digitize government to people (G2P) transfers. Ensure that any Special Fund for “poverty alleviation” or special Home Fund as stated in the 2022 amended budget, for example, is transferred only to KYCed digital bank accounts or fintech-enabled digital wallets of the individual recipients and not paid out in cash. This will improve traceability and accountability for such Funds in the future. Forensic digital tools should also be deployed by Independent Auditors, to audit the billions of dollars budgeted and disbursed for Social Programs in the past ten years. Identified breaches should lead to recoveries and enforcement action.
These proposed initiatives need to be complemented by a number of enablers and we have identified some below:
Citizenship reorientation: Nigerians appear to have limited understanding of the Social Contract between the people and the State, their power to enforce their rights under the Constitution and the fact that Democracy requires (indeed mandates) active participation of the people to be successful. We propose that the government initiates a comprehensive citizenship reorientation program involving but not limited to the following;
Adding a webpage on the Nigerian Immigration website such as https://immigration.gov.ng/citizenship to provide Nigerians with accessible information on their Rights and Responsibilities as citizens. The webpage must also include helpful practical tips on the when, what and how to enforce those rights and discharge their responsibilities. Today, the Nigerian Immigration Service focuses exclusively on border control, issuing passports, immigration and not on citizenship matters like its counterparts. See https://www.uscis.gov/citizenship for example.
Developing a simple FAQ of 100 points on Citizenship Rights and Responsibilities published on the Immigration website as indicated above and taught in all public schools from the primary level to universities.
Encouraging responsible adults to volunteer as Citizenship Ambassadors in the Local Government Areas where they reside. Their service to their communities could include modeling and teaching Citizenship Rights and Responsibilities in a democratic government. Their service will be recognized, not through remuneration, but through stewardship awards and honorifics. The more that true service is celebrated, the more it becomes desirable.
Budgeting for Productivity: Instead of a National Budget based on expected oil revenue and how to spend it, the National Budget should be based on the outcomes we want to achieve such as jobs and the average household living income we want Nigerians to generate net of tax. The Global Living Wage Coalition estimates that an average rural household in Nigeria needs to earn NGN 191,909 (USD 462) for 2022. Living income is the amount a typical size family needs per month for a basic but decent life. This amount was NGN 138,678 (USD 365) for 2020 and the updated amount for 2022 takes the rate of inflation for the country between mid-2020 and mid-2022 into account. Accumulated inflation in this period was 38.38%. After setting these objective benchmarks, the government should work backwards to identify the specific direct and indirect initiatives needed to drive those outcomes, define the private/public sector responsibility matrix for those Initiatives and then develop an Income and expense budget for the government to discharge its own responsibilities. Budgeting for productivity should happen at all tiers of government. Indeed, the National budget should be a roll-up of productivity budgets developed at local government, city and state levels.
Join the race for global competitive advantage in emerging Industries. Sadly, as Nigeria is still trying to catch up in the 21st century, the race for dominance in the next century is already in full gear. The next 10-30 years will be defined by advances in Artificial intelligence, Machine Learning, Deep Learning and Clean Energy technologies. The battle for access to the raw materials and manufacturing capacity to convert them to the components which will power these Industries is raging. It took China over a decade to build its smartphone manufacturing capacity. India has learned the template and has attracted private investment in plants that handle the final assembly of smartphones. As its assembly volume grows, India will move to the next phase which includes cultivating hundreds of smaller local suppliers of components, persuading local governments to build train lines, highways and other infrastructure for moving parts around. When China decided to pursue electronics manufacturing it single-mindedly corralled all the competing interests of provinces and local governments to focus on that objective. Nigeria will need to select which emerging technology she wants to bet on and do the same.
Security: It is evident that no sustainable or optimal economic growth can be achieved in an environment of pervasive insecurity. The Government needs to nullify the activities of ALL non-State actors contesting sovereign space with the legitimate Government of the country. While focused, surgical, and robust Security Operations are waged against these malevolent actors, there are some tactical steps to disincentivize robbery, kidnapping and other forms of criminality that have escalated.
Criminals often spend their ill-gotten money on ostentatious assets such as real estate and luxury vehicles. Government can require real estate agents/brokers and luxury car dealers to submit some contact details (e.g phone numbers and national IDs) of non-accredited customers who made purchases to a centralized online database accessible only by certain security agencies. Security agencies can triangulate data from banks and this database to identify potential criminals.
Diversify the Security Agencies. In a multi-ethnic society like Nigeria, no single ethnic group (or religion) should comprise more than 15% of the total workforce and the senior cadre of any security agency (including the Military Branches). This diversity builds trust and is easily achieved in four years through recruitment, talent development and promotion.
Consider devolving more of the policing responsibility to States. Policing in the world’s largest democracy (the United States) is a state responsibility enshrined in the constitution. Community policing requires local knowledge of a people, their environment and their cultural norms to be effective. Nigeria needs to explore this model.
Contributed by the Chairwoman of Digital / eCommerce group of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry
- Focus on performance and sustainability.
- Walk a mile in their shoes.
- Balance high tech with high touch.
- Assess organizational culture and change management factors.
- Carefully implement, and then measure results.
Highlights. The revenue share of eCommerce-Fashion amounts to 19.6% in 2021. The internet penetration in Nigeria is forecast to amount to 59.9% in 2026. The mobile phone subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in Nigeria are forecast to amount to 96 in 2026.What are the benefits of digital economy in Nigeria? ›
The digital economy helps to increase capital and labour productivity, and also helps to obtain goods and services at lower prices. Digital technology levels the playing field for entrepreneurs anywhere in the world. Digitalisation enables technology to lower the costs of storing, sharing, and analysing data.What are the main drivers of digital economy? ›
The primary driver of these trends is technological innovation, namely the advent and widespread use of social media and smartphones, as well as advanced broadband networks and technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data Analytics (BDA), robotics, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning ( ...What are the 5 most important things for someone leading a digital transformation project? ›
How to lead a digital transformation in your business
- Prepare a climate for change. ...
- Create an action plan. ...
- Establish a change team. ...
- Engage and communicate. ...
- Sustain a change culture.
Digital technologies are electronic tools, systems, devices and resources that generate, store or process data. Well known examples include social media, online games, multimedia and mobile phones.How do you create a digital transformation roadmap? ›
- Gather and analyze data. Data is the lifeblood of an organization. ...
- Make CIOs and CTOs part of the big picture. ...
- Establish insight-driven goals. ...
- Build a transformation-ready culture. ...
- Leverage agile project management.
Six factors seem to determine the success of outcomes from digital transformation projects: leadership, people, agility, business integration, ecosystem and value derived from data.What is the best digital strategy? ›
- Paid Search Advertising. This could be anything from media buys to display ads. ...
- Email Marketing. ...
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ...
- Social Media Marketing. ...
- Video Marketing.
A digital growth strategy isn't just setting social campaigns and waiting for the likes, shares and comments on your content. A Digital growth strategy tackles all angles on your brand's online presence and looks at what improvements can be made with the direct objective of achieving business growth.
Digital technology can help improve communication, collaboration, content management, access to analytics data and social networking. Staff and customer experience are improved with a fresh approach and interactivity.How can technology improve Nigeria economy? ›
Job Creation. Due to Nigeria's large population and high levels of unemployment, there is a huge need and demand for jobs. The growth of technology has helped to partially manage this issue. Directly responsible for creating millions of jobs, the ICT sector is one of the largest employers of labor in the country.What are the new trends in the digital economy? ›
New and emerging digital trends, such as cloud computing, mobile web services, smart grids and social media, are radically changing the business landscape—reshaping the nature of work, as well as the boundaries and responsibilities of enterprises. These trends go beyond technological innovation.What is are main features of digital economy? ›
In the context of the present circumstances of the world, the Digital economy can be divided into three key components that are: e-business. e-business infrastructure. e-commerce.What are some examples of digital economy? ›
- Ecommerce. Selling products and services from a digital presence such as a website or app.
- Markets. Digital two-sided markets such as an auction website.
- Software. ...
- Platforms. ...
- Hardware. ...
- Consumer Electronics. ...
- Services. ...
- Education & Training.
- Social Connectivity.
- Communication Speeds.
- Versatile Working.
- Learning Opportunities.
- Information Storage.
Digital technologies can also transform markets and economic opportunities. Digitalization of public sector operations and services, together with development of digital industries and jobs helps drive socio-economic development.What are the benefits of digital economy? ›
- The expansion of business opportunities. ...
- The creation of new employment opportunities. ...
- The enhancement of public services. ...
- The rapid rise of E-Commerce.
The digital economy can also contribute to the growth of GDP per capita in the countries along the “Belt and Road” by reducing the unemployment rate and improving the employment structure.What is the importance of the digital economy? ›
Advantages of the digital economy
The digital economy offers potential for companies and consumers to connect more quickly, more efficiently, and more meaningfully to the products, services, and experiences they love.
- Significant business relationships are digitally enabled and mediated.
- Core business processes are accomplished through digital networks and span the entire organization.
- Key corporate assets are managed digitally.
As a result, competition is a key driver of digital transformation projects: 41% of executives say their digital transformations are driven by competitive pressure. It's difficult, if not impossible, to compete with businesses that are enhancing their services with technology.Why digital growth is important? ›
Among many other things, digital transformation can facilitate better cooperation between companies, enhance customer engagement, boost productivity, and help you in collecting and analyzing data for better strategy-making that will directly lead to business growth.What is the main goal of digital transformation? ›
Increase top-line growth
For small businesses and Fortune 500 companies alike, the goal of digital transformation is to increase gross sales or revenue. Technology can streamline customer interactions and transform how users or customers purchase items and make payments.
- Television. Television sets transmit signals over which we can listen to and view audio and visual content. ...
- Internet. ...
- Cell phones. ...
- Computers. ...
- Circuitry. ...
- Artificial intelligence. ...
- Software. ...
- Audio and visual technology.
Examples of digital media include software, digital images, digital video, video games, web pages and websites, social media, digital data and databases, digital audio such as MP3, electronic documents and electronic books.What are 3 main types of technology? ›
Machines that move are mechanical technology. Medical technology is another type, and includes ventilators, medication, and MRIs. Communication technology is the third type, and includes all types of tools used to communicate, from telegrams to telephones.How do you create a roadmap example? ›
- Choose the type of roadmap.
- Share your “why”
- Tailor your roadmap to your audience.
- Prioritize the right themes.
- Stay flexible.
- Use the right roadmapping tool.
- Make the roadmap clear and compelling.
- Assign broad timeframes for milestones.
A digital roadmap is a high-level document that outlines what your business wants to achieve, identifying some digital initiatives that can help you get there. It provides a blueprint for action that aligns your digital initiatives with short- and longer-term business objectives.What are the four steps to develop a roadmap for your future? ›
- Discover your “why” Without a clear vision for your life, you could be running fast to nowhere. ...
- Decide your “when” When it comes to the discipline of goal-setting, “someday” does not cut it. ...
- Document your “what” What do you want? ...
- Determine your “how”
Digital transformation requires a change in mindset, culture, and leadership. The five strategic areas of domain transformation are customers, competition, data, innovation, and value.What are the benefits and challenges in the digital transformation? ›
Digital transformation can bring a number of benefits to government organizations, including increased efficiency, transparency, and citizen engagement. However, there are also some challenges that need to be considered, such as data security and privacy concerns.What are the 3 pillars of digital economy? ›
Concepts such as big data, machine learning, artificial intelligence and data science are increasingly at the center of the debate about the digital revolution.What are the 3 pillars of a digital plan? ›
Data: comes in all shapes and sizes
- Demographic data – who the users are and their interests.
- Behavioural data – customer activity to date.
- Contextual data – what's happening in real-time.
Digital-first companies focus on delivering their service through digital mediums. MuleSoft is an excellent example of a digital-first company, as they have developed an integrated platform that allows customers to manage their business processes in one place.What is the future of digital technology? ›
Advances in AI, machine learning, robotics, and other technologies have increased the pace of change tenfold. By 2025, we estimate that 50 billion devices will be connected to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), while 70 percent of manufacturers are expected to be using digital twins regularly (by 2022). 8.How digital technology change society? ›
Simplifying Lives and Better Living standards
Just like any other technology, digital has disrupted the norm while bringing a ray of improvements in lives. From communication to socialization and shopping to business, the emergence of digitization has galvanized society in unprecedented ways.
What are the 3 basic economic concepts? The three basic concepts are supply & demand, scarcity, and opportunity cost. When supply and demand meet, the quantity demanded is equal to the quantity supplied, and we can say that the market is in equilibrium.What are the 3 most important elements of digital citizenship? ›
In my book, Digital Citizenship in Schools, I explain the three categories of digital citizenship — respect, educate, protect — and lay out a framework that educators of all subject areas and grade levels can use to teach the basics of digital citizenship.What are the 3 main components that digital devices are made up of? ›
- Memory Unit.
- Control Unit.
- Arithmetic and Logical Unit.
A complete DT model is a three-layered design: data, process, and business model. The data layer is necessary to digitize data sources by using technologies for easy-management.What are the 3 questions every economy must answer? ›
An economic system is any system of allocating scarce resources. Economic systems answer three basic questions: what will be produced, how will it be produced, and how will the output society produces be distributed?What are the 3 economic questions that must be answered and why? ›
- What goods and services should be produced?
- How should these goods and services be produced?
- Who consumes these goods and services?
Economists address these three questions: (1) What goods and services should be produced to meet consumer needs? (2) How should they be produced, and who should produce them? (3) Who should receive goods and services?What are the 7 ways to promote digital citizenship? ›
- Know how to discern fact from fiction.
- Share information responsibly.
- Interact with people in an appropriate manner online.
- Maintain an appropriate digital identity online.
- Know how to find, use, and cite reputable and accurate sources to inform their work.
- Keep equipment in good working order.
- behaving lawfully – for example, it's a crime to hack, steal, illegally download or cause damage to other people's work, identity or property online.
- protecting your privacy and that of others.
- recognising your rights and responsibilities when using digital media.
- Personal Computers.
- Mobile Devices.
- Entertainment Systems.
- Navigation Systems.
The GetSmarter survey finds that the two most crucial ingredients for digital transformation success are strong leadership and effective change management.What are some important features of digital devices? ›
features of digital devices (portability, performance, storage, user interface, connectivity, media support, energy consumption, expansion capability, security features, applications); multi-functional devices, eg mobile phones that include a camera, have limited game playing functionality and sometimes GPS 1.3.What is a good digital strategy? ›
A good digital strategy likely has a lot of branches with multiple channels, content formats, deadlines, and deliverables. Keeping track of that is half the battle, but it shouldn't be something that slows you down.
- Process transformation. The primary goal of a process transformation is to make internal processes more straightforward and efficient. ...
- Business model transformation. ...
- Domain transformation. ...
- Cultural/organizational transformation.