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Nigeria as an attractive market for TMT and Fintech

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With a current estimated population of 211 million people comprising mostly youths, Nigeria is a ready market for Technology, Media, Telecom (TMT), and Fintech. Though some sceptics perceive the country’s massive population as a curse, it is instead a blessing that only needs careful harnessing and the right socio-economic policies.

With the right policies and investments, a vast population, especially a youthful one as Nigeria’s, is an asset. But despite its size and people, the country still has some catching up to do to develop fully. It is, however, noteworthy that TMT and Fintech can act as enablers to achieving this, i.e., advancing the country’s growth and development.

The influence of technology, for instance, is immense and includes job creation, boosting of GDP, improved healthcare, communication, and business transformation. The growth in technology has helped manage the country’s unemployment put at 27.1% in Q2, 2020 by the National Bureau of Statistics.

Though there are claims that new technology steals jobs by reducing labour, it does not cause a net increase in unemployment or redundant people. It is a net creator of employment because the resulting higher profits are reinvested. And as technological improvements increase productivity, demand for labour rises, creating more job opportunities and raising wages.

Telecoms has also emerged as one of the largest employers of labour in the country and is directly responsible for creating millions of jobs. According to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), ICT alone provided about 2.5 million jobs in 10 years.

Telcos, the NCC further noted, has contributed over N362.34 billion as revenue in five years to the Federal Government’s consolidated revenue account. In its latest report, the NBS corroborates the NCC, disclosing that telecoms and the larger ICT sector were key sectors that helped Nigeria exit recession, contributing12.45 percent to Nigeria’s GDP.

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Apart from its contributions to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), telecoms also enable other economic sectors. During the rounds of lockdowns that greeted the COVID-19 pandemic and the eventual easing in 2020, institutions, businesses, and individuals relied heavily on telecoms services to carry out their daily operations and official routines. Several organizations are still working remotely, and telecoms continue to be their enabler.

Closely related to the growth of telecoms and technology is the fintech sector, which is now thriving. There was a time in this country when people waited endlessly in banking halls to cash cheques and pay for services. Thankfully, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) that offer innovative services and solutions and enable financial institutions have helped eliminate the sheer waste of precious person-hours. By leveraging technology, tech-savvy youth and a vast majority of Nigerians with mobile devices – phones, tablets, laptop computers, among others now carry out transactions seamlessly. With an array of affordable, quick services, subscribers’ borrow’ credit to make calls and send text messages, especially in emergencies, by just dialing or sending a short code from their mobile devices. Many Nigerians also buy and pay for products and services using their mobile devices alongside voice services, all thanks to TMT.

Considering how TMT has aided the country’s development and catalyzed growth from around 2001, it is evident that there is still more to achieve. Indeed, Nigeria needs it more now than ever as other areas can still be explored. One of these is in the area of smart cities. As some state governments, particularly Lagos, plan for more intelligent and efficient ways of running megacities, smart cities are becoming the best option. Smart cities or cities 4.0 will rely on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and big data to effectively and sustainably manage everything from transport to the use of energy or water resources, public spaces, and communication with their inhabitants. The goal is to reduce energy consumption, reduce CO2 emissions and increase the well-being of inhabitants.

Smart Cities are also widely believed to be an increasingly important economic growth driver, with TMT playing a crucial role. Though significant advances are being made, for instance, with the National Broadband Plan and National Financial Inclusion Strategy, the country still has some grounds to cover, and you can count on the TMT sector and increasing levels of investment by Operators to boost that development.

Juergen Peschel is the Chief Technical Officer of 9mobile and writes in from Abuja.