Nigeria’s Presidential candidates have big plans for the tech industry

About Fatu
By Fatu Ogwuche

Top of Mind: Happy Friday!

Boy, are we glad to be back with this special edition to commemorate Nigeria’s general elections. We’d go back to regular programming next week Sunday, but we prepared something special for you today. 

As a glad-to-be-back gift to you, our dear readers. We did a deep dive into the manifestos of the three leading contenders to visualise what their Presidency would look like – if they won. 

Let’s dig in!

Nigeria’s Presidential candidates have big plans for the tech industry

Ilustration by Samuel Jolayemi. 

The short: Let’s play a visualisation game. It’s May 29th 2023, and one of the candidates currently vying for Nigeria’s highest office is sworn in as President. 

On the back of this win is an ecosystem dependent on the best man winning to guarantee its survival. And this ecosystem is no straggler either – it contributed 18.44% to Nigeria’s GDP in Q2 2022, compared to former superstar, oil, which brought in a single digit 6.33% – according to Nigeria’s Bureau of Statistics. 

Your contenders are a veteran presidential candidate, a one-man youth unifier, and a self-styled kingmaker responsible for the emergence of Nigeria’s current President. 

The key players in the tech industry have engaged with these candidates, contributed to their campaigns, and openly declared their support – for those with nothing to lose. 

Head start: Nigeria made some progress in the industry over the years, with startup funding and incubation programs, innovative policy regimes, including the digital crowdfunding licenses for brokerage startups, and the Nigerian Startup Act. But, there’s also been negatives, such as the ban on Twitter, cryptocurrencies, and other restrictions that hamper startups’ ability to thrive.

Big plans?: The candidate’s plans for the tech ecosystem plans are similar, showing alignment but a little unimaginative. But they’ve promised, and according to the dictates of a manifesto, they have to come through. And if they don’t follow through on these promises, you have my permission to use this resource to apply pressure.

Manifestos: Here’s a deep dive into the manifestos of the three leading candidates to visualise what life in the tech ecosystem would look like — should they win.

An Atiku Abubakar presidency promises:

  • The tech industry is getting jobs and schmoney: Abubakar’s administration will establish a National Research and Innovation Fund to provide training programs and technology development grants, plus a Diaspora Bond to fund technology support programs for software development and other ICT sector needs.
  • New policy: In the first sign of policy speak, Abubakar says he’d create a policy for blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies to be regulated and managed to generate jobs and revenue for the government.
  • Tax breaks, anyone?: Abubakar says the private sector will benefit from tax breaks, grants, and loans to increase investment in science and technical education.

A Bola Ahmed Tinubu presidency looks like this:

  • More room for women in tech: Scholarships and incentives to encourage young girls to pursue careers in STEM.
  • Building super centres: Tinubu’s got his eyes on Nigeria’s technical and vocational institutions, where he plans to reform and develop super centres to train students in software development, AI, and robotics.
  • Blockchain, not 2 Chainz: Tinubu’s manifesto is about that blockchain life. Tinubu claims he’d change government policy to promote the prudent use of blockchain technology in finance and banking, identity management, revenue collection and advance the use of crypto assets. 
  • Advisory council: Tinubu’s manifesto states that an advisory committee will be formed to recommend changes to current regulations to make them more business-friendly. The council will also advocate for the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to ramp up adoption of the eNaira. 

In Peter Obi’s administration:

  • He’s leading a charge into the Fourth Industrial Revolution: With AI, blockchain, youth entrepreneurship and other technological innovations to create a digital ecosystem for Nigeria’s economic growth.
  • Metaverse? Obi’s manifesto states his administration will leverage emerging technology such as virtual reality, robotics, biotechnology, and data science to usher in an industrialised nation.
  • It’s raining funds: Peter Obi is also putting money where his mouth is – he’s committing to support the growth of startups and small businesses through funding, significant policies and incubators. 

What’s Missing: All the candidates talked a good game about what a hypothetical world in the tech industry would look like if they won. However, they skimped on tech’s existential issues, e.g., the social media ban – remember Twitter’s 7- month gag? Over-regulation, freezing bank accounts of startups, etc., and how to avoid this in the future.

Final thoughts: It’s foot-on-necks season (figuratively). If the new President doesn’t follow through, apply pressure. I expect more startups to aggressively engage the new government since the candidates have laid out plans to support the ecosystem. Let’s see how far they go in their first 100 days in office. 

I’ll send an update. 

Thanks for reading! We’d love to hear your thoughts about our special edition. 

Please respond directly to this email or find me on Twitter @fatuogwuche 🙂

See you next Sunday!

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