Osun state unveils digital economy policy, plans to become South-West’s leading tech hub

Ganiu Oloruntade
Osun state governor
Image Source: Twitter.

On Monday, at an event held in Osogbo, the Osun state governor, Ademola Adeleke, unveiled a digital economy policy that he said will “kickstart a technological revolution” in the state. The goal for Governor Adeleke is to make Osun the tech hub for the South-West.

Lagos—another South-Western state and Nigeria’s economic capital—already holds the crown for the most sought-after tech hub in the country, dubbed Africa’s Silicon Valley. Interestingly, tech ecosystems are beginning to spring up in other parts of Nigeria as alternatives to Lagos. A case in point is Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.

With the launch of the digital economy policy, Osun intends to attract startups and open up investment opportunities. In pursuit of this, the state government has inaugurated a first-of-its-kind 15-member advisory board tasked with supporting “the state in our dream of transforming Osun into a digital economy state.”

Read also: Tubosun Alake discusses government intervention and challenges of tech in Lagos

A tech policy for Osun

Not only did Osun unveil a plan to drive its digital economy, but the state also announced an ICT policy for the first time.

According to the state governor, the policy is poised to identify and apply technology in various sectors such as agriculture, education, health, environment, administration, and infrastructure. Similarly, a policy to support tech startups in the state was also announced.

“I am also unveiling the Osun State Tech Innovation policy. Many talented tech innovators abound in our state. The policy seeks to create an enabling environment for tech innovations. Hence, we will support the establishment of tech hubs and ensure innovators secure much-needed backing,”

Governor Adeleke.

If anything, regulatory support from the end of the government in terms of policy frameworks is one of the main ingredients needed to drive the growth of any tech ecosystem.

This thinking led to the creation of the Nigeria Startup Act (NSA), the brainchild of key tech players and regulators.

Driving broadband penetration

Broadband penetration is a major driver of tech ecosystems. For the uninitiated, broadband penetration is the number of subscriptions to fixed and mobile broadband services divided by the number of residents in each country, according to experts.

Nigeria’s broadband penetration currently stands at 45%, per the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). Boosting local internet access and speeds is necessary to attract startups to any state.

To drive broadband penetration in Osun, Governor Adeleke signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Oodua Infraco to lay a 64-kilometre fibre optic cable across the state. He also waived the payment for telecom Right of Way fees for telecom companies.

Osun state governor signing a Memorandum of Understanding on broadband fibre deployment. Image Source: Twitter.

“In line with the new National Broadband policy and the urgency of internet Fiber connectivity for Osun state, this government is waiving payment for Telecom Right of Way in return for free connectivity to our schools and health centres when the broadband project is completed,” the governor said.

Adopting the Nigeria Startup Act

Technext earlier reported that 8 out of the 36 Nigerian states are currently in the process of adopting the Nigeria Startup Act, and Osun happens to be one of them. For Governor Adeleke, Osun is poised to become the first state to fully domesticate the Act, which offers tax breaks for startups, the Startup Investment Seed Fund for founders, and a path to dialogue with regulators.

“This will be my first Executive Bill I will be forwarded to the State Assembly after this event. The Act is programmed to ensure that new startup promoters and entrepreneurs secure desired mentoring and financing. The law, once domesticated will enhance the goals of both the ICT and the Tech Innovation policy,” he said.

Read also: More states working to adopt the Nigeria Startup Act despite its slow implementation.

Google Mapping project

For the Osun state governor, e-commerce is at the heart of the digital economy, and mapping is critical to the success of small businesses and e-commerce in the state. With this thinking, he launched the Osun Google Mapping project to ensure that Osun businesses and landmarks are placed on Google maps.

“When I took over in November 2022, Osun Google Mapping coverage was below 30 per cent. I am happy to record that Osun Mapping coverage is today above 50 per cent. When we are to launch Phase 2, I will host e-commerce giants in Nigeria alongside Google Corporation,” he added.

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