As 2013 winds up, this is the time to take stock of what has happened in the technology ecosystem in Nigeria and how they have affected the industry over the last 12 months. I would say that the year started on a very high note and we anticipated that it would be a great year for technology development in Nigeria. Several Tech events took place which brought about some level of awareness in global tech trends and also paved way for projections into 2014.
The major Tech Trends of 2013 that did motivate great change in Nigeria’s tech scene are based on Increased eCommerce adoption, several Broadband development plans by government, Big Data and Cloud Computing Awareness and implementation, Increased Digital Marketing, Adoption of Social Commerce, increased Mobile penetration and in the use of smart phones, increased number of Startups, Support for App Development initiatives.
These trends were ushered in through major tech events like Social Media Week Lagos, Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation Forum, Mobile Web West Africa, Africa ICT Alliance Summit, Nigeria Software Conference, Mobile Monday, NigeriaCom, AfricaCom, GITEX etc.
In all of these, one interesting driver of change in the ecosystem has been the continuous increase in the use of mobile phones and mobile devices in Nigeria. The statistics on this is changing every day as occasioned by the increased use of smartphones, Tablets, Phablets, other mobile devices, adoption of ecommerce and social commerce, Mobile social networking, development in Mobile Applications.
A lot are going on around Mobiles in Nigeria and this is shaping things. In the last few months, we witnessed great competition among the Mobile device manufacturers, Mobile Network Providers, App and content developers. Each of them are working hard to offer better products and services. These competitions in the mobisphere has put Nigeria in the lead in Africa and even globally. It becomes interesting to note how TECNO Mobile, an OEM who understands the needs of the Nigerian phone users, is aggressively addressing this need and providing great value. This year saw TECNO phones as one of the leading phone brands in Nigeria.
Despite the challenges around epayment in Nigeria, increased ecommerce adoption is one major trend we saw in 2013 .We see that more Nigerians now have confidence in buying and selling of products online. There has been a marked increase in the number of online businesses and ecommerce websites in Nigeria. Companies are taking their businesses online, the year saw an increase in internet based advertisement of products and services from Nigeria. There has been great growth in online retailing of products. This has brought with it great competition in that market. The activities of ecommerce websites like Jumia, Konga , OLX and others are actually leading the increased ecommerce adoption in Nigeria. It is not surprising therefore that more companies and organizations are beginning to launch their ecommerce platforms, mobi websites, Apps and also strengthening their social network relationship as they join this trend. We believe that in 2014 other big players will definitely join the ecommerce frenzy in Nigeria.
The projections engineered by the challenges of Entrepreneurship in Nigeria as pointed out by a report from Omidyar Network didn’t stop things rather it played a role.2013 is a year where technology focused businesses especially internet- based attracted international investments. One name that quickly comes to mind is Jason Njoku and his companies Iroko partners and then Spark.ng. These companies have continuously attracted international recognition and great funding. This no doubt has opened up a lot of opportunity for other Startups and internet businesses in Nigeria.
The Africa Internet Holding (AIH)- an organization focused at leveraging the opportunities in the increased usage of internet in Africa, is quietly launching several internet based businesses in Nigeria and other African nations. Their investment in several internet businesses in Nigeria also emphasized how attractive and relevant our Internet space is becoming. The launch of more internet businesses in Nigeria will be a trend that will grow even bigger in 2014, 2013 has just created a good background for that.
This year, app development in Nigeria had a great boost despite several challenges faced by Nigerian developers .The huge adoption of the android platform from Google is a major contributor, with support from other organisations like Qualcomm, TECNO,MTN, etc the Nigeria app development ecosystem is fast becoming very interesting and something to watch. The Nigeria Software Conference also provided a platform for young software developers in Nigeria
Despite the positive things happening in patches as per tech development in Nigeria, one major concern that was really obvious was the absence of government’s full support for the industry. Things were not done differently this year by government in terms of supporting tech development. The private sectors has been the major driver of the development here and that is a major limitation. There won’t be an even development without the total support from government. In other parts of the world government leads such development as technology anchors other sectors of the economy. How has the government supported the sector this year? Even the academic community who also is a major ingredient in technology development and innovation were not motivated. Take for instance, almost all the events I mentioned above that happened in Nigeria this year where these major tech trends were discussed had no government representation.
Am aware that the two Software Incubation centres set up by the government in Lagos and Tinapa are operational now, there are broadband development plans, USPF ICTs development strategy for Nigeria, Infrastructure development initiatives by government, all of these move are welcomed but are not different from what we have always witnessed over the years. Nigerians are waiting earnestly for these projects to impact on their daily living and further develop the sector to global relevance. Unfortunately, I do not see this trend changing in 2014 because government will be so busy with politics of 2015.
For us as an organization supporting tech development in Nigeria, we got several local and international recognitions that has helped us expand our horizon and initiatives. We were invited to Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation Forum, Oracle Open world Conference, Oracle Cloud World Conference, and GITEX .We now partner with several organisations and companies from the US, Israel, Dubai, Germany, UK, India. One interesting thing in all of these is that these organisations are seeing these tech trends in Nigeria and are taking up the opportunities here despite the challenges around living and doing business in Nigeria.
I will like to quickly summarize this article by making these projections for 2014, we will definitely witness:
-Greater impact in Startup Development in Nigeria; several international organisations will support and invest in this.
-There will be increased competition in the ecommerce arena. We will likely witness other big players in this space.
-Further development around Mobiles is obvious. Competition among the OEMs will increase. There is also opportunity for new entrants into the different areas of mobile based products and services.
-We might see the Industry, Government and the Education Community in Nigeria begin to think alike in the area of technology Innovation.
Until then let’s keep our fingers crossed!
We wish our readers and everyone who has supported us in one way or the other in 2013 a prosperous 2014!!