Nigeria: Technology Innovation Policy Priorities for the New Administration

In Summary…

• In today's fast-paced and interconnected world, technology innovation has emerged as an undisputed driving force behind economic development of developed and developing economies.

• Since the establishment of the first National Science and Technology Policy in 1986, various administrations in Nigeria have shown interest in promoting science, technology, and innovation as a key driver of socio-economic development. The 2022 NSTIP offers a good reference point and baseline.

• Nigeria has a new administration, whose tenure began May 29, 2023. Businesses and consumers are yearning for some landmark policy interventions that will position the country to take its pride position as the leading technology hub in Africa.

• Technology and innovation are strategic enablers of economic progress globally which the Nigerian government can strategically leverage. In this report, we highlight some ten (10) technology innovation policy priorities that the new administration could consider.

Our top-ten (10) proposed technology innovation policy priorities for the new President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration.

1. Reduce digital divide by enabling telcos to increase broadband coverage across the nation especially in the hinterland.

2. Enforce data privacy laws to inspire trust and protect digital assets.

3. Implement effective cyber security architecture.

4. Promote private enterprise and enable regional champions.

5. Institute appropriate legal environment and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) framework to promote safety of assets and enable investments.

6. Establish a ‘Centre of Excellence’ to focus on a few relevant technologies such as AI, big data analytics, renewables, etc.

7. Promote STEM education from teacher training to nursery, primary, secondary, and tertiary institutions.

8. Incentivise viable R&D programs and collaborate with industry to commercialise R&D output.

9. Institute an agile governance architecture that coordinates R&D policy, investment, and innovation activities across MDAs.

10. Sustain Lagos as a leading hub for technology and innovation in Africa, to outcompete Kenya, South Africa, and Egypt.

Positioning for sustainable impact

There are two fundamental strategic levers the new administration must leverage to drive sustainable and scalable impact in the implementation of a transformative technology innovation policy:

1. All Nigerian citizens and residents must have a unique ID: The Federal Government and the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) must urgently harmonise all existing multiple IDs in the country and accelerate the issuance of a unique national digital ID to eligible Nigerians and residents. This will lay the needed foundation for trust, secure financial transactions, and efficient planning process. It will equally maximise the opportunities for financial inclusion, e-governance, efficient tax collection, better border control and national security, amongst other benefits.

2. Set-up an investment fund for early and growth-stage startups: The Nigerian government needs to sponsor a technology innovation fund that will invest in early-stage technology startups, in partnership with the private sector and international organisations. Many governments around the world have established funds to support and invest in technology startups within their countries. These funds aim to foster innovation, create jobs, and promote economic growth through technology-driven entrepreneurship.

Technology innovation does lead to economic development. This has been proven in many countries such as South Korea, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, Denmark Israel, United Kingdom, and United States of America etc., where focus on innovation, research and technology led to remarkable economic progress. As expected, the mix of technology innovation policy alternatives the new administration decides to pursue will depend on prevailing circumstances, resource availability and socio-political priorities of the administration. A comprehensive and adaptable technology innovation policy can provide the foundation for economic growth, social progress, and global competitiveness in a sustainable manner.