Digital economy has gained traction in the lexicon of Nigeria’s public office seekers, to the extent that many “youth empowerment” programmes of power seekers now contain some sort of activities relating to acquisition of digital skills, by the citizenry. But in reality, many of those with thriving digital footprints, set out on their own without any form of “empowerment”. This is the story of Geeksvillage, just like many other digital and tech solution providers in Nigeria. Founded on November 19, 2013, Geeksvillage has now provided Information Technology services to over two thousand and five hundred clients, all over the world. As a leading IT solutions provider in Nigeria, Geeksvillage has a fair share of Nigeria’s IT market, where it also plays as a reliable web hosting company. Given the worldwide market reach of credible digital service providers, there is hope that Nigeria’s vast youth population and manpower can be channeled towards digital economy, just like India have done through deliberate up skilling of its population in digital knowhow.
Recalling the very long and rough walk in Nigeria’s technology and IT service landscape, the founder of Geeksvillage, Oscar Josiah, observed that it was a very difficult and rough journey at first. Oscar noted that although the challenges are high, however, he admitted that Nigeria is an important place in the world’s IT ecosystem. “At the beginning, we had a lot of challenges because people were just getting to accept that information and communications technology has become a critical part of modern life. On the other hand, service industry such as ours has a peculiar challenge; sometimes, clients argue about charges because they feel they are not paying for something tangible”, Oscar said.
With the increasing IT awareness and the growing penetration of internet in Nigeria, discussion around information and communications technology have also increased to the extent that leading presidential candidates in the 2023 General Elections are discussing how they will enhance Nigeria’s digital economy. In fact, Nigeria’s electoral umpire has remarkably integrated digitization in the country’s electoral processes, much so that it is now possible to envision electronic voting in the shortest possible time; something that was altogether unimaginable only a few years ago.
Although Nigeria boasts of increased youth population which is an asset for the digital economy, however, without proper structural provisions, “it is still a long way to go”, Oscar said. In Nigeria, data is still a very expensive commodity, such that even “unlimited data” in Nigeria is limited. Therefore, heavy internet users can spend between fifteen thousand and twenty-five thousand minimum, in a month, on internet. Meanwhile, Nigeria’s minimum wage is still thirty thousand Naira, only. Worst still, most of the youth population who feature mainly in the digital economy are either underemployed or unemployed.
Talking about the future of Geeksvillage and by extension Nigeria’s digital economy, Oscar said that the challenges are much but the future looks good, still. “It’s something that most of us players in that industry are eager for. But without the right investments, then, it may never come”.
The candidates of APC, PDP and LP have mentioned something about Nigeria’s digital economy and how they intend to improve it through some kind of policy based action. It is left to be seen how they intend to do all they have said. But what is certain is that the digital economy might be critical in any plans to financially empower the vast youth population of the country, who might have an upper hand in deciding who becomes Nigeria’s next president.
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