Innovation, entrepreneurship, and synergy in the digital economy, By Inyene Ibanga

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Digital innovation and entrepreneurship can improve standards of living, create wealth for entrepreneurs, related businesses, as well as a country’s economy in general.

Digitally-enabled enterprises are leveraging technology to create economic and social benefits across various areas of human activity.

Innovation makes it possible for businesses to improve their existing products, processes, or to create new products outright.

Most developed economies such as the United States, Russia, Germany, Japan and others are world leaders due to their efficient deployment of technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

Digital innovation and entrepreneurship can improve standards of living, create wealth for entrepreneurs, related businesses, as well as a country’s economy in general.

As such, digitally-enabled start-ups scale up to become high-growth companies because they are more likely to fare better in the entrepreneurship ecosystem than startups in traditional or low-tech activity.

Thus, innovation and entrepreneurship bring something new to a startup to drive change, promote the new value and sustainable growth by enabling new products and markets to develop.

The Federal Government has mandated the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and all its agencies to facilitate the use of digital technology to grow Nigeria’s digital economy and create gainful opportunities locally and across the international market.

Several policies and strategies have been formulated by the Ministry in collaboration with its parastatals and relevant stakeholders to ensure an all-inclusive implementation of the Digital Nigeria agenda of the Federal Government.

Instructively, the exceptional contribution of the digital economy sector to the GDP has been attributed to the existence of shared vision, partnership, and collaboration amongst the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, its parastatals, and the sector’s stakeholders.

These agencies are the Nigerian Telecommunications Commission (NCC), the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST), the Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT), the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), and Galaxy Backbone Limited.

The government equally unveiled the Nigeria Digital Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Startup Policy (NDIESP), with five cardinal areas: To advance human capital, unlock access to capital, enable infrastructure, boost demand, and promote innovative entrepreneurship.

Through the NDIESP, the government plans to achieve a digital innovation and entrepreneurship-driven nation with a particular focus on adopting digital technologies to spur economic advancement and promote synergy between key stakeholders, including government, regulatory authorities, investors, companies, startups, academia, and the legislature.

It is worthy to note that innovation and entrepreneurship is one of the five pillars that make up the NDIESP, which was presented to stakeholders in July to raise wide-ranging innovative approaches/methods to grow the nation’s economy.

Consistently, the collaborative engagements by these agencies have impacted positively on the nation’s economic fortune as the ICT sector contributed a significant 17.9 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the second quarter of 2021.

According to the report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the figure shows a 3.01 per cent increase from the GDP contribution by the ICT sector for the preceding year.

Instructively, the exceptional contribution of the digital economy sector to the GDP has been attributed to the existence of shared vision, partnership, and collaboration amongst the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, its parastatals, and the sector’s stakeholders.

In August, the minister, Mr Isa Pantami said that the ministry, its departments, and agencies collectively generated a total sum of N1.05 trillion within the last two years. He hailed the CEOs of all the agencies for their unalloyed commitment and urged them to intensify their efforts towards developing Nigeria’s digital economy.

Given the forward-thinking and result-oriented cooperation among the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, and its agencies and parastatals, I am optimistic that our country is on course to positioning itself to harness the ample opportunities in the estimated US $11.5 trillion global digital economy.

Meanwhile, the Director-General of NITDA, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi, emphasised that public-private partnership initiatives, funding, human capital, advocacy, and sustainability are the vehicles that will help Nigeria to attain a vantage position in the lucrative global digital economy.

He identified digital entrepreneurship as a crucial element necessary in ensuring a thriving digital economy and explained that through innovations in technology, people have been able to conduct business online with more speed and convenience.

Abdullahi asserted in a presentation at a roundtable/interface organised by Civil Society Groups for Good Governance with the theme “Maximising Potentials of Digital Entrepreneurship for Youth Empowerment and Self Reliance,” in Abuja.

Being the IT sector regulator, NITDA has unveiled several initiatives to implement its mandate in line with the federal government’s National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) towards promoting innovation and entrepreneurship to create jobs and lift millions of citizens out of poverty.

A few of the agency’s strategic initiatives include the Nigerian ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship Vision (NIIEV); Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Support (TIES); the MIT-Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Programme; Digital States Initiative Programme; NDIESP and the National Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre.

Office for Nigerian Digital and Innovation (ONDI), a key subsidiary of the agency that promotes entrepreneurial activities, is working with startups as key contributors to developing an innovative-entrepreneurial economy.

Furthermore, the agency is soon to launch a project called Hive through which innovation centres would be built in the universities to provide hands-on practical entrepreneurial activities and support the academic community’s learning, innovation, and research development towards industrialisation.

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Given the forward-thinking and result-oriented cooperation among the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, and its agencies and parastatals, I am optimistic that our country is on course to positioning itself to harness the ample opportunities in the estimated US $11.5 trillion global digital economy.

Inyene Ibanga writes from Wuye District, Abuja; email: inyeneibanga@yahoo.com.

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