• Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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US envoy calls for predictable regulation to grow Nigeria’s digital economy

AI education is critical to adoption — US Consular General

Will Stevens, the United States Consul General to Nigeria has underscored the importance of predictable regulation to foster the growth of Nigeria’s digital economy.
The US envoy spoke about this on Monday at the Lagos Business School Monday during a fireside chat themed, “Unleashing Potential: Thriving in the Digital Age.”

Stevens pointed out that the uncertainties and lack of transparency create hesitation among businesses, preventing them from making long-term investments and strategic decisions.

According to him, a predictable business environment is vital for building trust and confidence among investors, and entrepreneurs, and the lack of it could create hesitation and delay key decisions.

He urged Nigerian policymakers to prioritize transparency, consistency, and predictability in their regulatory approach to create an enabling environment for digital growth.

“When we talk about trade and investment, we are always talking about business climate, predictability, and transparency so that companies can make decisions and invest. In the digital space, they move faster and break things,” he said.

“Companies need to know and be able to predict what the regulatory environment will be and how it’s going to impact them. When they get phone calls or things pop at the last minute, it makes them question their future investments.”

Further speaking on the importance of transparent regulations, he said, “They [companies] still need to be able to understand what things are likely to look like in three or five years so they can make large-scale investments. Even with the undersea cables, it took a bit of head-cracking to get the last-mile approvals done from the authorities.”

Complex democracies

Stevens emphasised that both the US and Nigeria are complex federal democracies where decision-making involves navigating through various levels of leadership rather than just relying on a single authority figure.

“Let’s be very honest; the US and Nigeria are complicated federal democracies. You can’t just go to one ‘oga at the top’ and make it so. You have to go through all the leaders at different levels, even in the United States, to get approval. That’s complicated, but it’s one of the things about living in a vibrant, challenging democracy,” Stevens said.

His disclosure also mentions Nigeria’s endeavours to propel its digital economy through various strategies including digital infrastructure, skill development, financial services, entrepreneurship, and policy improvements.

Recently, the Central Bank of Nigeria awarded a Payment Terminal Service Aggregator (PTSA) licence to Unified Payments, the second such licence to be issued after 13 years.

This move could spell forward movements for Nigeria’s digital economy, enabling instant interbank transfers, Point of Sale (PoS) transactions, and the growth of the fintech sector.