After much anticipation, the main contender for Nigeria’s top seat and the candidate of the People’s Democratic party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar released his policy document sometime in November last year.
We were told that the document is a reflection of the aspirations of Mr Atiku and a detailed action plan of his team. Since we have reviewed the plans of “the erudite” Kingsley Moghalu and the no-nonsense Madam Oby, I am certain that an exclusion of the top 2 contenders will not do justice.
To the main business…
First things, You can view the policy documents on the Atiku campaign website here. The “Policy Overview” offers you a cursory understanding of the full version while the “Atiku’s Plan” section provides comprehensive details. What stands out, even in the comprehensive document, is the volume of thought given to the tech industry: Little and cursory.
The objectives of the regime for the new economy include the following:
- Promote the role of technology in governance.
- Build digital literacy.
- Promote private sector technological innovation and enterprise.
- Promote technological hubs across the country and link them with
existing Industrial Development Centres (IDCs).
Short and far-reaching, the objectives would have conveyed perfectly good intentions because they include intentions for capacity building, enterprise development and public sector management. But, the devil
really is in the details. How would they be achieved?
The plan outlined five key action points and I will be very willing to analyse each, in my estimation.
Strengthen the use of business intelligence software to analyse public service productivity: This is basic civil service procedure that should not be listed as an effort to boost the state of technology infrastructure in Nigeria (or any nation). There are a number of custom solutions the government should employ.
We should not celebrate mediocrity!
Improve the technology start-up ecosystem by providing financing and
infrastructure: This is a good aspiration, nothing more. It would have been regarded as a plan if the document had said: “disbursed $50m equity funds to 50 tier II Fintech startups in 4 years”. Then, we could have something to measure.
Then, did I read that they will provide infrastructure? Just asking: what sort of special infrastructure does the technology sector need? Maybe launch a “mega tech village master plan” that will take 20 years to complete. The village will have an uninterrupted power supply, unlimited WiFi, silicon-valley type of buildings, uncountable PS4s and maybe Sharwama to cater for the millennials…
If the government is serious about supporting the tech community, they should fix the basic things first: good transportation, constant power, affordable housing, security… at least, the skill/brain drain will stop.
Review, with timelines, partnership agreements with experienced foreign incubators and accelerators to improve the penetration of technological advancements in the country. I wonder if we will dedicate a ministry for this! Let me explain it for you: the government of Atiku plans to review signed agreements with the foreign guys so that our technology sector will grow faster, beginning from 2019…
You still don’t understand? It actually means nothing, makes no sense.
Enforce and protect intellectual property rights, which form a crucial component in technological innovation. This is just like the first point above. It makes no sense to list this as an action point. These would be consequent upon other factors: for instance, if law enforcement improves generally, intellectual property rights will follow.
Elsewhere, under job creation (Youth and Women Empowerment), the plan indicates that the government plans to “Encourage States and the private sector to incentivize studies for girls in Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)”. This is laudable. The only challenge is that in Nigeria encourage means “encourage.” Here in Nigeria, encouragement usually changes nothing.
A study of the manifesto of the Atiku/Obi campaign team shows that the aspirants do not consider the technology sector as the powerful enabler the economy needs. Like the other segments highlighted in the document, the technology has been promised actions that are not well articulated and less likely to make any difference.
If they think that the Tech space is one of the expandable sectors, they need to think about it again. Without technology infrastructure no real economic growth is possible.