The World Bank is one of the world’s major agencies that assess the strengths of economies around the world based on certain sectors and industries. It has recently released an assessment of Nigeria’s digital economy. Its findings were that the Nigerian digital economy is growing at a healthy rate but will need to make some strategic investments to continue the (healthy) growth rate and to realize the full potential of its digital economy. Nigeria needs to ensure that more Nigerians and Nigerian businesses have Internet access to ensure that its digital economy continues to grow at a healthy rate. A strong digital economy in Nigeria could actually transform the country and turn it into a developed nation with a healthy economy fairly quickly. It will definitely generate infinitely more jobs for Nigeria's middle classes.
A healthy digital economy in Nigeria will also encourage digital entrepreneurship and this will create real wealth for the Nigerian economy. However, Nigeria’s ‘digital harvest’ is not yet ripe. The following needs to happen for that to occur:
● Improved rural connectivity and infrastructure
○ Most Nigerians live in rural areas and are completely left out of Nigeria’s ‘digital revolution and spring!’
● Improved connectivity throughout Nigeria
● Table and pass legislation that encourages E-commerce and E-business
○ This sector alone could propel Nigeria’s economy out of poverty and transform it into a developed economy!
Nigeria could follow the Canadian model
Canada has long since transformed itself from a fairly successful economy whose growth came from exports of raw materials to a booming economy whose growth is driven by the digital sector. It all started when Justin Trudeau became Prime Minister. He tabled policies that encouraged growth in the digital economy. It wasn’t long before successes in the digital sector spilled over into other sectors and began to drive and transform the entire Canadian economy for the better. He formulated Canada’s Digital Charter in 2019. It stated the nation’s commitment to creating a strong and healthy digital sector which would give its citizens equal economic opportunities and make the nation safe and transparent for its residents. Trudeau also implemented policies that helped traditional Canadian industries and sectors ‘catch up!’ with the introduction and adaptation of new digitally-based technologies and branches like cryptocurrencies. The iGaming industry has worked perfectly in tandem with the cryptocurrency industry in Canada. The result has been a pure success and phenomenal growth. All of this started when the iGaming industry gave players the option of paying using cryptocurrency.
Canadian casinos started to adapt to the digital economy when they offered their hard-core players the best bitcoin games. These games were so challenging and easy to pay and play for that they became a favorite among international players. International gamers loved the fact that they could easily use Bitcoin, Etherium, and Ripple currencies to play. Digital transactions were easy to make and were quick (the average digital transaction occurs in less than an hour!) The global iGaming industry is diversifying. It’s moving from more common and traditional games like roulette, poker, and poker machines. The industry is increasingly offering games with complex and unique plots that will lead to hours of intrigue and suspense when played. A large quantity of popular ‘gambling’ games are being modified for iGaming platforms. This phenomenon is solely demand-driven. The iGaming industry represents the best and the core of the new and emerging digital economy in action. What makes digital gaming so successful and popular is the fact that the quality is on par with the traditional games. Digital gambling games are also easier to play.
What will improve Nigeria’s digital economy?
The Nigerian government must make digital education more accessible to the (Nigerian) masses. Currently, only the small (but growing) Nigerian middle classes and rich Nigerians have access to digital education. The poorest Nigerians are being completely left out of the digital revolution. Furthermore, offering the Nigerian masses equal access to digital education would effectively lift the entire nation out of poverty and make great contributions to all sectors of Nigeria’s economy - not just the digital sector. Improving Nigeria’s digital infrastructure may well be a ‘colossal’ effort! According to data and analysis from the most recent global reports, Nigeria’s digital infrastructure is still ‘woefully’ underdeveloped. Part of the reason for this is because many of Nigeria’s business sectors are still unable to use digital platforms. Nigeria’s government must engage in long-term digital infrastructure building projects in order to build lasting infrastructure that future generations can use. Get the digital platforms ‘up and running!’ E-commerce is one of Nigeria’s fastest-growing economic sectors. In fact, new opportunities are awaiting Nigerian business owners in all industries and sectors every day. The Nigerian government must adopt a plan similar to Canada’s in terms of integrating digital infrastructure and platforms into its more traditional economy.
The gap in digital skills knowledge
Nigeria is clearly a country of ‘haves and has nots’ in terms of access to digital infrastructure and education. Only a small percentage of Nigerians have access to digital infrastructure and platforms. And only a small percentage of Nigerians have access to digital education. These two realities make it difficult for the average Nigerian to learn about and exploit the advantages that the emerging digital economy presents them with. Nigeria’s government must formulate a detailed plan and map to ensure that all Nigerians are empowered and give opportunities to participate in the digital economy!
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