According to Dr. Ololade Shyllon, Nigeria and other countries have the opportunity to tap into the region's digital economy strategically. This potential has been boosted by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
The World Bank predicts that the AfCFTA can help lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty and increase the incomes of 68 million others living on less than $5.50 per day in African countries.
The World Bank also stated that the implementation of AfCFTA would lead to trade facilitation measures, reducing bureaucracy and simplifying customs procedures. These measures could contribute $292 billion out of the potential $450 billion in income gains.
Dr. Ololade Shyllon, speaking at a telecoms forum in Lagos, emphasized the need for African countries to implement AfCFTA for long-term growth. Harmonizing data regulations, which currently differ among 35 African countries, is crucial for reaping the region's potential. Unlike the European Union, Africa should strive for a single data regulation to maximize its benefits.
“Free flow of data across the region is essential to boost trade. While data must be protected, a restricted data ecosystem would be a very big problem for Nigeria and others. Data kept at stagnation doesn’t make it valuable until it is used,” he stated.
Dr. Vincent Olatunji, the National Commissioner of the Nigeria Data Protection Commission (NDPC), highlighted the rapid expansion of the global digital economy. According to the World Economic Forum, the valuation of the global digital economy increased from $11.5 trillion in 2019 to $14.5 trillion in 2021. Projections suggest that it will reach an impressive $20.8 trillion by 2025. Additionally, the global data economy is estimated to be valued at $3 trillion, emphasizing the critical importance of data as a strategic asset for creating individual and societal value.
“Presently, we are witnessing unparalleled technological progress propelled by the potency of data. He said Forbes reported an astonishing volume exceeding 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is generated daily, as of October 2021,” he stated.
Prof. Umar Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), highlighted the rapid growth of Nigeria's digital economy.
Factors such as increased Internet access, mobile technology, a thriving start-up ecosystem, and government support are driving this upward trajectory.
However, challenges such as infrastructure gaps, funding, digital literacy, cybersecurity threats, and attitudinal change need to be addressed.
Danbatta emphasized that the digital economy relies on digitized information, technologies, and knowledge to drive innovation, create job opportunities, and promote economic growth.
Digitizing government operations will enhance efficiency, reduce corruption, and improve citizen engagement. Let's support the emerging digital economy in our country!