The influx of new breed tenacious wealth creators in Nigeria’s burgeoning digital economy is helping to pave the way to creating new opportunities through the use of technology.
It is believed that the African continent can unshackle itself from its colonial heritage and take enormous strides towards its development after years of exploitation and underdevelopment.
The proponents of this approach believe that through technology Africa can escape years of exploitation and under-development the continent has suffered over the centuries of its existence.
Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, with a population of over 200 million people in the country is at the forefront of this movement.
Nigeria overtook South Africa as the continent’s leading investment destination in 2019 with 55 active technology hubs which accounted to $94.9 million in funds raised compared to $60 million raised and 59 active startups in South Africa, according to a report by the Center for Global Development.
Nigeria is also considered as Africa’s biggest technology market with a population of over 200 million the country accounts for 24% of internet users on the continent, with 26 million people online as of December 2019.This is according to figures released by Internet World Stats, 2020.
The Nigerian Communications Commission estimates Nigeria has the highest telecommunications subscribers in Africa and has a tele-density of over 96%. In a report published by the UK’s Department of Digital Culture, Media and Sport, it is estimated that the tech sector in Nigeria will generate up to £68 billion ($80 billion) and create up to three million jobs by the end of 2020. Estimates are up to £80 billion) for the economy by 2021.
Technology growth has created riches at a traditionally unprecedented level across the globe and a new generation of business leaders and tech entrepreneurs are charting a new path for the next generation who are emerging and being hailed as ‘the new tycoons’, hungry to take a slice of billion-dollar empires with their innovations.
These Nigerian tycoons are much younger and are able to work in a collaborative economy to disrupt existing systems of their older peers while also focusing on wealth generation.
Although the Covid-19 pandemic made everyone aware the importance of technology and how being tech-savvy is for social distant communication, the importance of technology on the Nigerian digital economy has never been more important as it’s impact has been brought sharply into focus by these new young multi-millionaires who have mostly moved back to Nigeria to set up start-up companies that have spurred on the Nigerian tech sector.
They are set up in different fields ranging from energy, agriculture, banking, transportation, logistics, health and financial tech services.This new breed is doing away with the conventional and conservatively structured money-making foundations and moving into a new digital economy to build future wealth.
Subsequently, strides made by these wealth creators have also attracted investors as well as international attention to the country, giving Nigeria’s economy a bigger global audience.The effects are already being felt, from Jumia with its listing on the New York Stock Exchange to Andela, and its $100 million Series D fundraising, which was used to train hundreds of software developers and engineers for companies around the world.
Also Kobo360, a leading tech startup for the logistics industry raised over $30 million in private equity from Silicon Valley.
These tycoons and their indigenous Companies are all vying to secure their market positions through disruptive technology while making Nigeria a tech leader on the continent.The impact also goes beyond just business as well, there is a keen sense of responsibility by this new breed to
impact on society by looking for creative solutions with the aid of technology in filling gaps left by the state. They help in making learning more accessible in the weak educational systems through e-learning, while also creating innovative solutions for SMEs and e-business’s in the country.
Creating financial freedoms through innovative fintech solutions that engage larger segments of the populace who do not have access to conventional banking systems or financial services has been the biggest plus, as it has had a positive impact in large numbers on the Nigerian populace by having created access to finance.
Another area where these tech tycoons are becoming more and more disruptive is in the agricultural sector.
According to the African Development Bank’s(AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina,
the African continent is spending about $35 billion on food imports alone resulting in a significant loss of jobs. By 2030, the size of the food and agriculture business in Africa will be worth a whopping $1 trillion.
“Nobody drinks oil, but everybody eats food. So those that want to be millionaires and billionaires of Africa are going to come out of that sector. In agriculture, I believe that Africa can industrialize,” says Adesina.
Nigeria’s agriculture sector still employs over 35% of the Nigerian labour force, according to the World Bank data for 2019. This demand has led to a number of tech firms who have begun to supply the agricultural sector.
There are other challenges faced by these emerging tech tycoons such as chaotic business environments, access to steady electricity and access to finance. However the Nigerian never-say-die attitude only spur on these entrepreneurs to face these challenges, as it is not only providing its new wealth creators with an opportunity, it is also allowing them to contribute to the long-term economic growth and development of the country.