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Nigeria on track to develop strong digital economy –  Expert

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Denise Williams

A United States-based business entrepreneur, President and Co-founder, Silicon Valley Nigeria Economic Development (SV-NED), Denise Williams has said Nigeria as the biggest economy in Africa, with one of the largest populations of young people in the world, is well-positioned to develop a strong digital economy which would have a transformational impact on the continent.

Williams who took part recently in the World Bank 30 second challenge to answer the question on why the global economy should invest in the country, said Nigeria is a beautiful country for investment. 

“The country has fine real estate, beautiful cultures and great people. It is the hub of Africa. The continent digital space begins with Nigeria. The nation is the Silicon Valley of Africa. You definitely want to come into this space, invest in young adults, look at the mobile economy and the global buying power of Nigerians in the diaspora,” she said.

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Williams spoke at the World Bank Panel discussion on Nigeria’s digital transformation journey: what will it take?. She encouraged entrepreneurs and startups to seek technical solutions to social, political, economic, health, climate and environmental issues observed locally. 

“My logic was, Silicon Valley investors will come to us, so as long as we encourage our youths to be innovative using tech,” she said.

Speaking on what it will take for the country to achieve this objective, Williams quoted a World Bank report which offered five digital strategies, including digital infrastructure, digital platforms, digital financial services, digital entrepreneurship, and digital skills.

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According to her, digital infrastructure provides a way for people, businesses, and governments to get online and link with local and global digital services, thus connecting them to the global digital economy. She said for a digital economy, good and affordable Internet connectivity is a critical foundation. 

Williams identified digital platforms as one which offers products and services, accessible through digital channels, such as mobile devices, computers, and the Internet, for all aspects of life. She said it enables producers and users to create value by interacting with each other.

“Governments operate digital platforms to offer citizen-facing government services and share information. Commercial firms also operate digital platforms to offer a growing array of products and services,” she said.

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The US-based entrepreneur explained that digital financial services enable individuals and businesses to conduct transactions electronically or online and open a pathway to a range of digital financial services in addition to digital payments, including credit, savings, and insurance. She noted that access to affordable and appropriate digital financial services is critical for the participation of individuals and businesses in the digital economy. 

Speaking on digital entrepreneurship and innovation, she said it create an ecosystem to bring the digital economy to life with new, growth-oriented ventures and the transformation of existing businesses, which contribute to net employment growth and help enhance competitiveness and productivity of the economy. 

Williams stated that digital skills economies require a digitally savvy workforce in order to build robust digital economies and competitive markets. 

She said: “Digital skills constitute technology skills, together with business skills for building or running a start-up or enterprise. Greater digital literacy further enhances the adoption and use of digital products and services among the larger population.”

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