Dele Ogbodo in Dubai
The federal government has called on IBM, LG Electronics, Microsoft, Avaya, Lenovo, Oracle and other ICT players to invest more in Nigeria.
The call was made by the Minister of Communications, Mr. Adebayo Shittu, the Head of Service of the Federation (HoS), Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, and the Governor of Plateau State, Mr. Simon Lalong, on Tuesday in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Wooing the investors in the nation’s ICT ecosystem, Shittu, stated that Africa is the new destination of choice for global investments in ICT infrastructure, hardware or software and other smart devices.
“We are looking for Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) that will come to Nigeria to establish their plants, collaborate with us in human capacity development as we are set to establish the ICT University”, Shittu added.
Addressing the gathering at the Africa Investment Forum, organised by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) in collaboration with Pinnacle Consult of U.S, Shittu, urged them to invest in the 16 young Nigerian startups, sponsored by the government to showcase their softwares, apps and creative innovations at the exhibition.
After each of the startups took time to make presentations, the minister, admitted that the apps and products displayed by the young innovators were indeed worth investing in.
He said: “Government is therefore showcasing to the world so that angel and investors can collaborate with to bring the development of these apps to fruition.”
On why Nigeria is shopping for investors in the sector, he said: “Nigeria is more in population than all the other West African countries combined, it is the centre of ICT activities in the region, with 140 Universities.”
According to him, any serious investors who decide to ignore the Nigerian market, is doing so at his own lost. It is one market that any serious entrepreneur must go and invest because of its market potentials, he added.
Shittu explained that oil became an albatross to the country, because it made Nigerians lazy and complacent, adding that it would soon recover from the recession using ICT as diversification platform.
He told the ICT moguls that Nigeria is in a better position to make it since it has huge and energetic population which makes it a big market, adding: “I believe that ICT will make a prosperous country getting out of recession.
The minister said: “the federal government has assured you, that we are ready to partner and encourage entrepreneurs willing to invest in the country.”
In a remark, Oyo-Ita, stressed that Nigeria is looking for investors in cloud computing, Internet of things as well as in big data, adding that preference will be given to investors with focus on use of local content as the driving force.
On the need to assist the young startups, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mr. Sunny Echono, said: “We know that key to all of these is the issue of venture capital, our startups cannot go far except they have a mechanism to support them financially so that they can provide solutions to all our needs and take it to the global space.
“We therefore look forward to investors that will be supporting us and promoting these startups, as we are looking for opportunity to start exporting the brand of these young Nigerians.”
Speaking on the sideline, the DG of NITDA, Mr. Ibrahim Pantami, said Nigeria recorded some degree of success since it started participating at GITEX.
He said: “For example, two of the start-ups we sponsored for GITEX 2015 have forged partnerships with a Malaysian company.
“Two others are being incubated by a Nigerian ICT firm and one Nigerian company that participated at GITEX 2015 forged a partnership with a German company to develop the software to drive their hardware.”
According to him, the product of this Nigeria-German partnership is being showcased at this year’s event, adding that it is the desire of NITDA to scale up such partnerships in the future.
“Business environment in Nigeria is favourable. Our current administration recently formed a presidential commission to significantly improve our ease of doing business”, he declared.
He informed that efforts are underway to review the tax laws through a presidential effort to make Nigeria investor-friendly.
“We would be happy to get feedback from you on how we can encourage you to invest in the ICT sector of Nigeria.” the DG said.
While soliciting for investors to Plateau State, Lalong, who was represented by the the Deputy Governor, Prof. Donnie GwamleTyoden, said the state offers comparative advantage that is investment friendly and safe because of the proactive measures of government to use ICT as driving platform to holistically develop the state’s economic potentials.