GSMA Africa Launches Report on The Role of Mobile Technology in Nigeria’s Digital Economy

GSMA’s report reveals mobile tech’s 13.5% GDP impact, urging improved policies for Nigeria’s digital growth.

The GSMA Sub-Saharan Africa Team, led by Angela Wamola, Kamal Tamawa, and Caroline Mbugua, HSC, in collaboration with the World Bank, unveiled their latest report titled “The Role of Mobile Technology in Driving the Digital Economy in Nigeria” on May 9, 2024. The report launch, held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja, Nigeria, was accompanied by a CEO Dialogue focused on “Investing in Resilient Digital Infrastructure to Support Digital Economy Growth”.

Addressing the challenges hindering the growth and development of the telecommunications industry, the report highlights the crucial role of the mobile sector in Nigeria’s economic development. It emphasizes that connectivity to mobile services, including Mobile Money, is the foundation upon which digitalization is built.

According to the report, the telecom sector directly contributed 8% to Nigeria’s total GDP in 2023. However, when considering the wider ICT industries’ value-added contributions, this figure increased to 13.5%. 

The report provides a comprehensive analysis of the sector’s impact on the country’s economic metrics, revealing that the mobile industry’s cumulative contribution to Nigeria’s GDP reached an estimated 20 trillion NGN in 2023, accompanied by substantial tax revenue contributions totaling 2.8 trillion NGN. It also highlights that only 29 percent of Nigerians regularly use mobile internet, indicating 71% of substantial untapped potential in the market. 

The GSMA predicts that with an improved policy environment, the industry could enhance coverage and adoption, leading to an additional 15 million internet users by 2028. However, the sector encounters challenges in infrastructure deployment, particularly the complex and costly process of securing Rights of Way (RoW), which significantly prolongs the time and increases the costs associated with infrastructure rollout.

In addition to the numerical analysis, the report delves into the transformative potential of the telecom sector in enabling digitalization across key industries. Projections indicate that by 2028, sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, transport, trade, and government are poised to witness a remarkable GDP increase of approximately 2 percentage points. 

The CEO Dialogue held during the launch brought together key stakeholders from major mobile network operators (MNOs) including MTN Nigeria, Airtel Nigeria, Globacom, and 9mobile. The discussion focused on the pivotal role of the mobile sector in supporting Nigeria’s digitalization efforts, a cornerstone of the government’s socio-economic objectives.

During the dialogue, participants explored the current investment landscape within Nigeria’s mobile industry, identifying challenges and opportunities for sustainable growth. The dialogue also highlighted the immense potential of digitalization in accelerating economic growth in Nigeria and fostering inclusive development.

The report offers actionable recommendations to policymakers, aimed at creating an economic and regulatory environment conducive to growth, investment, and competition. These recommendations include implementing a legal framework for Critical National Infrastructure, simplifying and improving the process for issuing Rights of Way (RoW), reducing the industry’s tax burden to enhance operating efficiency, and creating a regulatory environment that fosters sustainable investment.

Angela Wamola, Head of GSMA Sub-Saharan Africa, emphasized the significance of the report’s findings, stating:

High-speed connectivity is the bedrock of any digital nation, and the Nigerian government recognizes the mobile industry’s role in laying key foundations on which digital transformation is built. Future policies should be geared towards reducing the cost and complexity of infrastructure rollout to encourage investment and boost the adoption of mobile broadband. The impact of such actions would go far beyond mobile, driving productivity gains across the economy and creating millions of new jobs in Nigeria.

Angela Wamola, Head, GSMA Sub-Saharan Africa

Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, Dr. ‘Bosun Tijani, and Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Aminu Maida, also participated in the event. They discussed the significant impact of digitalization in driving economic prosperity, echoing the importance of the report’s findings.

The telecommunications sector is the backbone of the digital economy. A country like Nigeria has significant opportunities to contribute to the world, but this is impossible without diversifying the economy.

Dr. ‘Bosun Tijani, Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, Nigeria

The launch of the GSMA report and the accompanying CEO Dialogue mark a significant step towards understanding the role of mobile technology in Nigeria’s digital economy and setting the course for future growth and development in the sector.

For further insights, access the full report here.

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