Nigeria’s tech industry in recent years has made significant strides. The country is said to have the highest number of start-up businesses related technology innovation in general and information and Communications Technology (ICT) in particular.
According to the latest reports by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the ICT sector has contributed 18.44 per cent to Nigeria’s GDP in 2022.
Minister of communications and digital economy Prof. Isa Ali Pantami, said recently that the growing contribution of the ICT sector to the GDP is as a result of the commitment of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, to the development of the digital economy.
“The diligent implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) for a digital Nigeria, stakeholders’ engagement and creation of an enabling environment, have all played an important role in this achievement.
“The support of President Muhammadu Buhari, has contributed immensely to the impressive developments in the sector. The unprecedented contribution of ICT to Nigeria’s GDP can also be attributed to the dynamic and results-oriented leadership of the sector. The GDP Report has shown how critical the ICT sector is to the growth of our country’s digital economy and, by extension, the general economy,” the minister said.
However, this achievement is about to suffer a serious setback due to the quest by Nigerians especially the youth to embark on “Japa,” the craze by the Nigerian youth with tech skills to leave the country for greener pastures abroad worsening the brain drain of highly skilled Nigerians in search of greener pastures abroad.
The economic situation in Nigeria at the moment is highly responsible for this ugly situation coupled with poor incentives in some cases.
The Nigerian economy in the past seven years has been facing a serious downturn following poor policy responses to the issues concerning economic development as the economic outlook appears gloomy. The nation’s GDP growth rate is just slightly over 2 per cent for a country of over 200 million population that is said to be growing at 3.2 per cent per annum.
The unemployment rate is 33.3 per cent while inflation has hit 20.52 per cent, the worst for the country in the last 17 years. Nigeria’s currency, the naira has lost over 70 per cent of its value as it now exchanges for about N700 to a dollar. This is a very scary situation for the country, coupled with a poverty level that has hit over 41 per cent while capital inflow and Foreign Direct Investment have all reduced by at least 50 per cent in Nigeria.
In December 2019, the World Bank warned that if drastic measures are not taken to forestall the looming crisis in Nigeria, a quarter of the world’s poor will be in Nigeria by 2030. The situation is rather getting worse as the policy responses to these enormous challenges have been sloppy and may not give much confidence.
The sum total of this is the widespread misery and hopelessness in the country that is driving young talented Nigerians out of the country and threatening the burgeoning tech industry in the country.
When our correspondent visited the foreign mission of a North America country in Abuja, he discovered that a large number of young Nigerians who are tech savvy are seeking visas to leave Nigeria. One of them, who gave his name as Samuel, said he is leaving as the country in his own words “ cannot guarantee his future,” describing the situation in Nigeria as “ worsening and hope fast-fading.”
Another one, seeking visa to travel to India but does not want his name in print, said, “ India offers more opportunities for technical expertise and a great reward for those with ICT competence.”
Reacting to the worrisome situation, the director of INNOV8, a technology innovation centre in Abuja, Dr. Edward Singhatey, expressed worries over the situation even as he tasked the government, private organisations and all stakeholders to create a conducive environment for young Nigerians to stay.
He said, “Yes, it is not only the tech sector that is facing this sad situation. It is a general brain drain that is going on for decades, where brilliant young Nigerians and Africans are leaving our shores for greener pastures due to a combination of factors obviously.
“I think what the government, the private sector and all the stakeholders must do is to create a conducive environment to allow some of them to remain and excel.”