GITEX 2016: Nigeria is ICT investors’ haven —Pantami, NITDA’s boss

Technology entrepreneurs seeking for high Returns on Investments (RoIs) have Nigeria as a strong ally. This declaration was made by the Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami in his opening speech to kick-off discussions at the Africa Investment Forum (AIF) in the recently held Gulf Information Technology Exhibition (GITEX 2016) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Nigeria’s fourth participation at the GITEX 2016 which had participants from 140 countries was hinged on promoting investments in the technology sector through the AIF, Nigeria Pavilion which featured eight exhibitors and the Startup Hub where the NITDA sponsored 16 startups.

“The business environment in Nigeria is favourable. Our current administration recently formed a presidential commission to significantly improve our Ease of Doing Business rank.  Efforts are also underway in the Nigerian Senate to review the tax laws to aid the presidential effort to make Nigeria more investor-friendly,” said Pantami at the forum that had representatives from Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), organisers of GITEX, Morocco, Tanzania, Egypt, and other African countries.

The Nigerian side was led by the Honourable Minister of Communications, Barrister Adebayo Shittu,Professor Sonni Gwanle Tyoden, the deputy governor of Plateau State, Mrs. Winifred Ekanem Oyo-Ita, Head of the Civil Service, Hon Mohammed Onawo, the Chairman, Committee on Information Communication Technology (ICT), House of Representatives, and Arch. Sunday Echono, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Communications.  The AIF attracted ICT stakeholders and investors from across the world including those of African countries.

While inviting investors to see the expansive opportunities in Nigeria’s ICT sector, Adebayo Shittu, said Nigeria remains the major investment destination in Africa for investors because of the country’s huge market and abundant resources.

His words: “Nigeria has a population of about 180 million people, which is more than the total population of the remaining 15 nations in the West African sub –region. Our nation is a huge market and the centre of economic activities in the sub-region as well as ICT development in Africa. Major investors in the ICT sector should not miss these opportunities of mutual benefits which Nigeria presents.”

Reiterating Shittu’s point, Mrs Winifred Ekanem Oyo-Ita, Head of the Civil Service, said Nigeria has continued to enhance its potential for investment flow with increasing efforts by government to build ready human capacity through agencies such as the NITDA to ensure the readiness of the indigenous labour force to provide required skills needed by foreign investors.

Also at the Forum, the deputy governor of Plateau State, Professor Sonni Gwanle Tyoden, called on investors to visit Plateau State to explore the abundant opportunities for tourism, mining and startup hubs underscored by abundant presence of young talented and educated young people.

“Our state has passed through periods of tragic conflicts but that is in the past as we invite you to join other investors in exploring the great potential in mining, the hospitality industry and huge market for innovation underscored by large numbers of educated and talented youth population” said Professor Tyoden.

Pantami also urged the investors to take advantage of the nation’s huge talents in ICT. He said Nigeria is opened to collaborate with local and foreign investors for mutual benefits and the NITDA would seek to promote startups as a basis to build a new technology-depended economy.

His words:

“Our ICT innovations are not targeting local consumption alone but global consumers as seen in our startups. At NITDA we have created a special office known as the Office for ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIIE) to spearhead ICT’s contribution to our GDP through “techpreneurs” and ICT start-ups.

“You may also recall that Mark Zuckerberg, the Chief Executive Officer of Facebook, was in Nigeria two months ago to attend the Aso Villa Demo Day, an initiative by the Nigerian Presidency to identify and promote 30 start-ups with the brightest home-grown innovative solutions.  Mr Zuckerberg admitted that he was “blown away” by the talent of young Nigerians.

Many of his social media comments after the event have reflected this.  We invite you, our potential investors, to take advantage of this massive talent as you invest in Nigeria.

“President Muhammadu Buhari is also keen to support entrepreneurs. He recently stated: “We recognise the private sector as the engine of growth and a veritable partner in our economic agenda, and will therefore give the fullest support to foreign and domestic entrepreneurs,” the NITDA boss stated.

GITEX is the largest technology exchange and marketplace for Middle East & Africa. Held annually in October at the Dubai World Trade Centre, the five-day show is comprised of an exhibition covering over 110,000 sqm, a technology leaders conference, the GITEX Startup Movement and many other show features. GITEX attracts over 150,000 technology professionals, enterprise leaders, public sector officials and entrepreneurs from over 140 countries. GITEX is focused on showcasing the latest innovative technologies, providing high ROI on business opportunities and is the region’s leading platform for technology and business.