Building a Digital Economy for Nigeria’s Future

14 July 2023

In the bustling heart of Lagos, at the 2023 Businessday CEO Forum, Ralph Mupita, the President and CEO of MTN Group, delivered a keynote address to Nigeria’s business leaders. His focus was not on his company’s achievements, but on Nigeria and its potential to become a significant player in the global digital economy. Other keynote speakers at the Forum included Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, and Osagie Okunbor, CEO of Shell Nigeria.

Mupita’s presentation was a call to action, a blueprint for building a digital economy that could propel Nigeria to become the world’s 5th largest economy. He highlighted the vast untapped potential in the digital economy, with Nigeria’s Internet Gross Domestic Product (iGDP) currently at 6% and expected to double by 2050 to reach 145 billion USD. He noted that Africa currently accounts for only ~1% of the global digital economy, a stark contrast to 68% in the United States, 22% in China, and 27% in Asia. This gap, he suggested, represents a significant opportunity for growth.

Commending the new administration under President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who has indicated his commitment to promote the growth of ICT and the digital economy for the shared prosperity of all Nigerians, Mupita called on the government and business leaders to promote policies that facilitate inclusive growth. He urged for a spectrum roadmap that ensures sufficient resources to meet the surging demand for mobile services. He advocated for speedy access to mid-band spectrum, crucial for the future of low latency 5G, and access to sub-1 GHz spectrum to provide widespread rural mobile broadband services.

He also highlighted the digital skills gap in Nigeria and across the African continent, especially in advanced skills such as AI & cloud computing. With an estimated 230 million “digital jobs” in Sub-Saharan Africa alone by 2030, Mupita emphasized the need for digital skills development to advance the digital economy.

“The potential is immense. The path is clear,” Mupita stated in concluding his presentation. “The future of Nigeria lies in its digital economy. And with strategic intent, collaborative effort, and a shared vision, that future is within reach.”

“In the face of global economic shifts and technological advancements, Nigeria stands at the precipice of a digital revolution. The country’s digital economy is poised to drive economic growth, create jobs, and foster innovation,” he added.

Mupita’s presentation was not just a corporate update; it was a rallying cry for Nigeria to seize the opportunities presented by the digital age. It was a call for collaboration between the government, the private sector, and the citizens to build a digital economy that is inclusive, sustainable, and powerful enough to propel Nigeria into the ranks of the world’s largest economies.

This vision for Nigeria’s digital future is not just a dream; it’s a feasible reality. With the right policies, strategic partnerships, and a commitment to digital inclusion, Nigeria can leverage its digital economy to drive sustainable growth and development. This is the future that Mupita sees for Nigeria, and it’s a future that is within our grasp.

The role of Nigeria’s business leaders in this transformation cannot be overstated. As key drivers of the economy, they have the power to shape the digital landscape of Nigeria. By investing in digital infrastructure, promoting digital literacy, and fostering a culture of innovation, they can help build a digital economy that is robust, inclusive, and sustainable.

In conclusion, Mupita’s presentation at the 2023 Businessday CEO forum was more than a corporate update; it was a vision of a brighter future for Nigeria. A future where digital technology drives economic growth, fosters innovation, and improves the lives of all Nigerians. It’s a future that we can all look forward to.