UK Pledges Support for Fintechs in Nigeria

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Chinedu Eze

The United Kingdom has reiterated its commitment to supporting the Nigerian financial technology (fintech) ecosystem.

The British Deputy High Commissioner in Lagos, Ms Harriet Thompson, made the announcement at the 2019 Nigeria Fintech Week recently in Lagos.

“The health of the Nigeria Fintech ecosystem is very important to the UK and we have made major efforts to broaden our approach in research, innovation and science. The aim of UK is to deepen our Fintech partnership in Africa and Nigeria,” Thompson said.

 She noted that Fintech start-ups in Nigeria were still constrained by access to seed capital, an inconsistent supply of skills, uncertain regulatory frameworks, and other challenges, disclosing that the UK has been working hard to support the sector overcome these constraints.

 She also explained that to further support the ecosystem, the UK’s Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport now has its own Tech Hub in Nigeria, which is focused on skills and capability development, digital ecosystem and facilitating innovative collaborations between Nigeria and the UK tech businesses.

 “This will help expand the Nigeria FinTech ecosystem and build skilled, entrepreneurial and networker populations, which will create jobs and address digital inequality,” Thompson stated.

 Thompson said the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) funds EFInA’s FinTech challenge fund and recently awarded start up and growth capital to six very promising firms.

 According to her, the DFID has also injected new capital into the Catalyst fund, remarking that the fund would be deployed for startups to support.  The British Deputy High Commissioner also disclosed that another initiative to deepen tech development is DFID’s West Africa Science and Innovation Research Hub based in Lagos.

“While our tech hub focuses on investment and business partnership, the research hub focuses on the knowledge and knowledge partnerships needed to drive the long term growth of the sector.

“As we build up to the UK-Africa Investment Summit in January, 2019 in London, where technology will be a leading theme, next week sees a UK Nigeria Investment Showcase to be hosted by the Lord Mayor of London – we’ll be taking three Nigerian tech firms alongside other businesses to meet a new set of potential investors.

 “Together, we hope to see new investments, firms growing as a result and people in all corners of Nigeria benefitting from them. Overall, we expect results in 2020 to be flowing faster and more impressively as our new programming and staffing gets established and gets to work,” she said.

Thompson observed that science, technology and innovation are fundamental to solving key development challenges such as creating two million jobs per year in Nigeria, increasing agricultural productivity, making government and the banks more efficient and more effective.

 “It’s going to require a new generation of cutting-edge businesses that challenge the old way of doing business, business models that work around existing barriers, and business that build the ecosystem.  It needs entrepreneurs with access to the right support, and a regulatory environment, which lets businesses grow,” she added.