Last year, I had many conversations with tech talents and experts in the tech ecosystem in northern Nigeria.
With the coverage area in view, I had a deeper understanding of its structure and received answers to the key issues and information relevant to the region.
Likewise, CRESTHUB recorded interesting stories like the launch of Zipline’s drone delivery service in Nigeria, alongside the adoption of the Nigerian startup act by states like Kaduna and stories around the Plateau Smart Tourism – a new frontier in Nigeria’s tourism economy.
These portrayed the north as a region with the readiness to keep moving forward, thus, we outlined six things that could shape the Northern Nigerian tech ecosystem in 2023:
- The Adoption of the Nigerian Startup Act in more Northern States
After the proposed notion for the Nigerian startup bill, six states had earlier been in early pursuit to adopt the bill. Out of these six states was significantly Kaduna; which had recorded quite a deal of success with the Kaduna Technological City, and the presence of startups such as Sudo Africa and Zipline amongst others.
At the moment, Kaduna stands out as the only northern state with a keen interest in the act. With more Northern states adopting the act, there could be the provision of a legal and institutional framework for the establishment as well as the development and operation of more startups within the region. It could also help to foster the growth of technology-related talents and significantly help bridge the employment gap in Nigeria which currently stands at 33%.
- Building more Products
As a resolve to further shape the tech ecosystem in the north, more products could be built; providing more productivity around the region.
With the key presence of developers, products created can help in addressing the issues around brain drain – a fair share of the deficit of tech talents in the Nigerian tech ecosystem.
Furthermore, emphasis on products around fintech, edtech, health tech, cyber security, tourism and hospitality, travel, blockchain and WEB3 would help in curbing the migrating effects in the north.
- The Presence and Impact of Tech Communities in the North
In building tech talents, there is also a need for tech communities as these communities help in fostering growth, expose talents to opportunities and provide shared information among their members. The north holds a record for several communities such as the Google Developer Group, the Microsoft Community and the Amazon Student Community respectively.
These communities have in the past year, hosted events, established student-driven communities and involvement and also, provided their members with the opportunity to interact and compete on the global stage. Although this is applaudable, there is a need for a more visible impact in the north.
These communities would fasten the growing phase of the technological ecosystem in northern Nigeria and could help in shaping it.
- The Intentionality of State Governments
There is no doubt that the government is also an enabler of the tech ecosystem in Nigeria. Its support has enabled the establishment and sustenance of a functioning infrastructure which has produced the environment for businesses to thrive.
For instance, Jos has Code Plateau – an eight-month immersive boot camp hosted by the Plateau State Information and Communication Development Agency (PICDTA). Its boot camp is currently in its fifth edition and has trained over 500 persons in software engineering, digital marketing, UI/UX, data science, and blockchain development. It also has the provision to train people living with disabilities.
Likewise, the leadership of Nasir El-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna state has been instrumental in the changes around the tech ecosystem.
Therefore, the intentionality of more state governments in the north could help foster relationships between private and public sectors to drive the northern Nigerian ecosystem forward.
- Provision of More Technological Hubs
Tech hubs are very essential to the growth and shaping of the tech ecosystem. They foster innovation, offer support and provide facilities to tech entrepreneurs in any given region. With a recorded number of 50 tech hubs in Nigeria, only 12 hubs are recorded in northern Nigeria.
With the provision of more tech hubs in the northern region, it could be easier to attract talents to the region, build a communication network which would enable a regulatory environment for startups, promote the expansion and development of businesses, increase innovation and allow for a more vibrant private technologically driven system.
Furthermore, hubs in northern Nigeria would see to the establishment and sustenance of angel networks.
- The Rollout of the 5G Network across more States
Nigeria has a significant number of remote workers across the country. These individuals are either developers, social media managers, tech entrepreneurs, graphic artists, content creators and many more.
In 2021, it was reported that the increase in data prices is a big challenge for remote workers in Nigeria. Despite the launch of the MTN 5G network, only a few states are limited to the effective workings of the spectrum. Recently, Mafab Communication won the 5G spectrum licence and has launched in 6 Nigerian states, two of which are Kano and Kaduna.
So then, the rollout of the 5G network in more states could help boost work productivity in these regions, especially amongst remote workers.
The North has More to Offer
Despite the north being heralded by tales of terrorism, great potential still lies within the region to promote the thriving ecosystem.
Therefore, the implementation of all six strategies highlighted above could help push the region upwards and give it the necessary leverage to compete with tech talents across other regions of the country and Africa as a whole.