On Sunday 28th March, 2021, ThisDay Newspaper published an article with the title – “Tech, Nigeria’s New Oil” which many in the Nigerian Tech ecosystem considers to be the turning point (howbeit negatively) for the rapidly growing Nigerian tech industry.
So many in the Nigerian tech space believe that THAT article made the Nigerian government shift it’s focus to the tech industry and the massive volume of numbers it’s Fintechs and other tech StartUps were doing.
In a recently released reports from Stripe Atlas, an incubator program launched in 2016 to help founders turn their ideas into startups, and in turn, collectively grow the GDP of the internet, Nigerian tech and fintech companies started by founders from the incubator programs have emerged as some of the fastest growing startups with over 400% year-over-year. See here .
Irrespective of what is happening in the Nigerian tech ecosystem, Nigerian “tech bros” are continuously skilling up and reaching out online to other tech ecosystems abroad for remote jobs and they are killing it!
Right from here in Nigeria, tech heads are beginning to earn serious foreign exchange and opening doors for others. This is gradually becoming Nigeria’s new Oil in spite of the fact that some of this government policies tries to choke the growth of the system.
The Nigerian government, especially the Central Bank of Nigeria have since come up with different policies to try to either “Regulate” or clampdown on the activities of some of these Startups. They claim that some parts of their business affects the CBN’s monetary policies and also that some of them are not licensed by the appropriate government agencies for the kind of business they are doing. The likes of Bamboo and chaka whose business revolve around investing in foreign stocks or cryptos have been forced to register with the Nigerian stock exchange (NSE).
The BIG question now is – Why the sudden focus on the Nigerian tech ecosystem?
Is this politically motivated? – To clampdown on young Millennials from achieving financial independence because with this comes more boldness to speak up against government shortcomings.
Is the government seeing the tech ecosystem as another cash-cow it can milk to sustain itself?
Some have argued that this moves are an off-shoot of the October 2020 End-SARs protest – how true is this?
Well, which ever it is, the issue is that these policies, regulations and investigations are affecting the growth of these startups and government must realise that people’s jobs are on the line.
These Tech startups are not naive though. Like some of their founders have stated severally online, they saw this coming and they are well prepared for it.
Some of these tech startups are incorporated outside Nigeria and most of their funds are domiciled abroad. They keep reassuring their investors and clients that their money is perfectly safe and have nothing to worry about.
conclusively, several industry professional have advised that these tech startups quickly do two things –
- Get experienced professionals with a bit of background in government relations on their board. Someone who can help them interface with government at the highest level.
2. Get close to the National Assembly and begin to lobby lawmakers who can directly or indirectly influence some of these bills being proposed by government that may not be favourable to the ecosystem.
Well, whatever these startups and their founders choose to do, they also have solace in the fact that every government has a 4year tenure and this particular one though still has 2 years more, they can stay the course and try outlast them.