In about three weeks, 93 million Nigerians will head to the polls to elect President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor in one of the most important elections since the country’s return to democracy in 1999.
As we already know, in the three-man presidential race are Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Atiku Abubakar of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, and Labour Party’s Peter Obi.
In previous articles, we reviewed the manifestos of the trio, focusing on their plans for the Nigerian tech ecosystem. On this platform, you can read my separate analyses of Peter Obi’s plan, Atiku Abubakar’s plan, and Bola Tinubu’s plan.
It will interest you that only Tinubu’s manifesto has a tech-focused section. Both Obi and Atiku lumped their plans for the ecosystem together with other sections.
In this piece, we will compare the tech plans of the three leading presidential candidates side-by-side, focusing on selected issues that concern the ecosystem: support for tech talent, blockchain, broadband, and general plans for tech.
Support for tech talent
In pursuit of a digital economy, Peter Obi’s manifesto said his government “will prioritize a structured approach to developing the digital skills of our young population to give them the competitive advantage to receive offshore jobs in the new gig economy while also improving the efficiency and productivity level of our economy”.
On his part, APC’s Tinubu promised that his administration would create one million new jobs in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector within the first two years of his government. This, he intends to pull off through “interventions in the ICT Industry and other critical sectors of the Nigerian economy where the deployment of new technologies can fast-track business growth and diversification.”
According to his manifesto, an Atiku-led government will establish a Technology Support Programme (TSP). To be funded by a Diaspora Bond, the TSP will “support the technology sector to meet the demand for the latest technology, especially, in software development” and, in turn, create “millions of jobs for budding techies.”
Admittedly, the dearth of talent in the Nigerian tech ecosystem calls for government intervention. While Obi’s plan tilts toward training (maybe we should expect a government version of AltSchool), it only sounds great on paper and can’t be measured.
For Tinubu, creating more jobs is the way, though his manifesto fails to explain the exact kind of “interventions”. Still, this ambitious approach is interesting to note.
The Technology Support Programme proposed by Atiku sounds impressive, albeit similar to the APC candidate’s plan in the areas of job creation. But the problem remains the workability of the TSP and the fact that the “millions of jobs” promise sounds a tad exaggerated and overly ambitious.
Read also: Atiku has comprehensive plans for the Nigerian tech ecosystem but we shouldn’t get too excited.
On blockchain adoption in Nigeria, Atiku makes an interesting proposition: “a comprehensive policy on blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies by the relevant government agencies” which, according to him, will create job opportunities for Nigerians.
Interestingly, APC’s Tinubu also promises to reform government policy “to encourage the prudent use of blockchain technology in finance and banking, identity management, revenue collection and the use of crypto assets”.
But unlike the duo, Obi doesn’t have a standalone plan for blockchain. Instead, he plans to leverage disruptive technologies — including blockchain — to accelerate real economic growth.
Tinubu’s idea of an advisory committee is much-needed, though it will make more sense if players in the blockchain space are greatly involved in the process.
The concern with Atiku’s proposition is the tendency for the blockchain to become overregulated, as Nigeria already has a blockchain technology strategy document developed by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), broadband penetration is defined “as the number of subscriptions to fixed and mobile broadband services, i.e. with advertised data speeds of 256 kbps or more, divided by. the number of residents in each country.”
So broadband plans are essential to driving mobile access. In 2020, the Nigerian government launched its National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 with a target of achieving 70% penetration by 2025. Recent data from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) shows that the plan is struggling.
To drive broadband penetration, Peter Obi’s manifesto proposes “a combination of state-led and public-private initiatives to drive the penetration of broadband infrastructure and information superhighway necessary to empower smart industrialization”.
Tinubu, on the other hand, said his government would ensure “the National Broadband Plan to deliver broadband services to 90 percent of the population is achieved by 2025”.
On Atiku’s part, there was nothing about broadband infrastructure in his manifesto.
Here, Obi’s proposition is the most convincing, compared to Tinubu’s deeply uninspiring promise without an actionable plan or strategy and Atiku’s nonexistent plan.
Read also: Tinubu’s manifesto shows little understanding of the Nigerian tech ecosystem.
Other plans for tech
To support innovation and entrepreneurship in the tech ecosystem, Tinubu’s manifesto said his government will “develop and implement innovative policies to support local funding opportunities and access to capital for startups and encourage foreign investors to continue investing in Nigeria.” It further proposed incentivising technology hubs, accelerators, and angel investors. Similarly, Tinubu promises to implement policies to help young Nigerians tap into the opportunities presented by the ICT-enabled outsourcing industry.
Atiku believes in the need for “a more effective and efficient Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) framework” for the Nigerian tech ecosystem. So he intends to review the current arrangement with legislation for a single IPR organization. In another plan, the PDP candidate wants to drive digital literacy and promote science and technical education through collaboration with states and the private sector.
Besides the plan to train young Nigerians on digital skills, Obi says his government will strengthen the incentive regime for emerging industries, especially tech. Like Atiku, he also intends to strengthen technical education.
Other plans include creating a mandatory national certification for blue-collar artisans and a venture capital-like fund for young entrepreneurs.
Read also: Though impressive, Peter Obi’s plans for the Nigerian tech space lack depth.
Ultimately, all three manifestos offer interesting plans for the Nigerian tech ecosystem. While Atiku’s is very comprehensive and well-detailed, its major shortcoming is its failure to address important issues affecting the ecosystem, such as broadband penetration.
Obi’s policy document, on the other hand, holds prospects but lacks depth regarding framework and implementation. At the same time, Tinubu’s manifesto shows little understanding of the tech space, albeit with some ambitious proposals.
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