On Day One of Mobile West Africa in Lagos, Nigeria, a panel of five experts predicted what they believe are the next things that would happen to accelerate the evolution of the tech industry in Nigeria.
Members of the panel were James McNab who’s Africa’s MD of Basebone, Toyosi Akerele, founder and CEO of RISE Group, Omatsola Osawaru Barrow sales executive at MTN Nigeria, Valentine Obi who’s CEO of eTranzact International, and Emmanuel Revmatas — a director at Samsung Electronics West Africa.
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1. Relevant and engaging apps
Barrow believes in the next few years we will witness the release of more applications that are relevant to local users, and at the same time are engaging. He said there will be migration to the usage of apps in the Nigerian society for serious purposes such as tax payments.
In addition to direct engagement, McNab believes the evolution will be quickened with improved access to the internet. He said that when more people have access to the internet it would be possible for them to be more aware of the immense opportunities that are available online.
Facebook’s Internet.org initiative, which aims to connect the world’s unconnected, has this week announced that it will be launching in Nigeria soon.
3. Cheaper data
Akerele believes access could be greatly improved when the cost of data is slashed thus making it possible for more people to come online. She added that stakeholders in the industry would have to come together to promote capacity building in the sector.
“It is sad to see many companies in Nigeria that are exporting website design projects to foreign countries. Lots of investments are needed in capacity building for the industry,” she said.
4. Increase in electronic payment services
Obi — whose company offers a wide array of electronic payment solutions — said the next couple of years would be characterised by an increase in the number of payment services. Championing this, he said eTranzact is planning to launch a service that allows Nigerians to send money to any partnering bank in Europe in real-time.
He added that there will also be significant reduction in the cost of telecoms services in Nigeria and will help in accelerating the evolution of the industry.
5. More private incubators
Revmatas believes there has already been an enormous change in Nigeria especially between year 2013 and 2015. According to him, smartphone penetration quadrupled within this period.
Moving forward, he said the industry would witness more engagements involving the private sector and incubators where innovative young developers will not try to replicate products that are successful elsewhere. Instead, they will have adequate financial backing to develop and introduce locally relevant solutions that would solve indigenous problems being faced by Nigerians.
The rep from Airtel Nigeria also corroborated Revmatas on the impact that empowering Nigerian startups would have on the ecosystem. He noted that his network is already working along this line through its Accelerate a Startup initiative.
When these solutions are developed by the startups, he said the networks will make them to become available and accessible to more Nigerians through the availability of low cost data plans.
6. Beyond Lagos
Revmatas added the real evolution would happen in rural areas and beyond Lagos. According to him, when people talk about technology in Nigeria, they are basically talking about stuff happening in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.
“But the real change we are talking about will happen as smartphone penetration increases elsewhere including places in northern Nigeria, and as we move out of Lagos,” he said.
Image by Stars Foundation via Flickr