The Nigerian tech ecosystem recorded an impressive 2018, no doubt. Funding rounds were literally outstanding, startups were springing out from all verticals, and VC firms paid increasing attention to indigenous asset managers. It was impressive.
But despite all the gains recorded, Nigerian startups and the entire ecosystem have focused on few innovations and largely ignored many others. in 2018, attention has focused on fintechs, logistics startups, and agro startups among others. Indeed these startups actually have real problems they’re addressing. Still, there are bigger problems affecting this country which tech could easily solved. Unfortunately, in 2018, these issues were not prioritized by the Nigerian tech ecosystem.
Below are 4 important issues the Nigerian tech ecosystem largely ignored and failed to solve in 2018.
Identity management is one of the biggest problems limiting Nigeria’s social and economic growth, not just technological. For decades, Nigeria has struggled to develop a viable approach to register and manage the identity of its citizens. This issue makes it hard to address crime and provide meaningful services for Nigerians. It’s probably the key reason why Nigerians are banned from using PayPal (we’ll get to this later).
Hello @nimc_ng i am frustrated at the slow pace and non-professionalism with the e-card. I & my wife got our slips in November 2017 but we are yet to get the e-cards till date. I have called and mailed, no response. Kindly help us. We need to get these cards. Pls help— Ayodeji (@deejayloa) December 28, 2018
54% of European Regtech companies are focused on solving Identity Management & Control issues and Regulatory reporting— David Jiménez Maireles (@davidjmaireles) December 27, 2018
Breakdown of European #Regtech companies by subcategoryhttps://t.co/iRDHs2QH1G#banking #FinTech #finserv #regulation #technology #innovation @aec-fintech pic.twitter.com/Kd3DJZoDIF
The current identity management system is bloated with multiple government agencies running similar but multiple schemes. Identity management should be the purview of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC). Yet, the agency has found it extremely hard to issue National ID cards in the past few years.
Please don't support incompetence.— Abundantly Blessed 🇳🇬 (@BlessinAbundant) December 28, 2018
How could it take over 4years, yet a card production of few minutes, is yet to be produced? https://t.co/LKl4G14hz8
This is where tech startups can play a role. Of course, it is a huge task, and more so for startups. However, quite a few tech hubs already have links to the government. And big tech companies like Interswitch, Paga and SystemSpecs also have strong links. Yet nobody has pitched an idea to the government therefore there is no innovation as regards identity management.
Data Protection Laws
Nigeria is not among the 17 African countries that have enforced the Data Privacy Laws. It’s important that this is addressed to protect the privacy of individuals. Consent is reqd, prior using an individual’s data. There will be consequences and this is what we require now.— Paul Gimsay (@PaulGimsay) November 3, 2018
2018 was the year the global tech community was rocked by several explosive data leaks and scandals; from Cambridge Analytica to Google’s own mishaps. In 2018, people became more concerned with how tech companies use information and what data protection laws exist.
But in Nigeria, these discussions never happened. Meanwhile Nigeria is one of many African countries with weak data protection laws. Yet the tech ecosystem didn’t concern itself with the matter.
Since my 2017 assessment that 120 countries have data privacy laws https://t.co/3UyrCRT4Sy, 6 more have emerged: Cayman Islands, Niger, Mauritania, Comoros, Guinea (Conarky) & now Bhutan. African countries are 20% (25) of the new total of 126. (Thanks Dave B, Marie G & Sophie K)— Graham Greenleaf (@grahamgreenleaf) January 12, 2018
“We need data laws that reflect the African reality.” What are your thoughts on how to craft regulations that protect privacy but also help innovation? @qzafricahttps://t.co/BduHVaSDq1#GDPR #dataprotection #dataprivacy #AfricanInnovation— Lexi Novitske (@anovitske) May 9, 2018
For all the strides fintechs have attained in 2018, they’ve not been able to make it possible for Nigerians to receive international payments.
Dear Nigerian fintechs, all your innovations and strides are useless if you can't find a solution that allows Nigerians receive payments directly from abroad.— Abubakar (@IAtalkspace) December 6, 2018
It's a big issue, but nobody is talking about it!#paypal @africatechie @oviosu @iaboyeji @TechCabal @technextdotng
Meanwhile, the digital economy is making it easy for jobs to fly anywhere. And they’ve been flying down to Nigeria a lot in recent years. Yet Nigerians are struggling to receive their payments. PayPal that would have been the best option is now a no-go area because of local fraudsters.
To be fair, a few fintechs have announced that they have similar services. But the problem is that they’re not well known and their procedure is not as simple.
So in 2019, we hope fintechs simplify the process of foreign payments.
Scarcity of Local Apps
The app stores are already quite saturated, and this makes it hard to find interesting local content. But worse, interesting local content are now rarely being produced.
The way Nigerian developers are growing into worldclass developers.— Wonderman.sol (@ebeh_elisha) December 20, 2018
It shows that by #2020 Nigeria will have more developers than any other country.
Learning Node and Express js
Nigerian developers have had a difficult time developing local content and have had an even difficult time marketing them. Truly, both issues are not their fault and the requisite talent exists. But the problem is actually a systemic one, caused by the bloated nature of the app stores. Yet, the local developer community has not talked enough about this issue to warrant changes.
As it stands now, the easiest way to promote an app is to offer financial incentives to users. It’s an unsustainable tactic used by apps like Zoto and NNU. But I’m sure that’s not how Instagram became a hit!
We can only hope the Nigerian tech ecosystem addresses these issues in 2019.
Get the best of Africa’s daily tech to your inbox – first thing every morning.
Join the community now!