Is the Nigerian Government allergic to Technology
On the 5th of February, 2020 Nigeria’s central bank ordered deposit-taking banks and other financial institutions to immediately close accounts transacting in or operating cryptocurrency exchanges, saying such deals are “prohibited.” This of course was met with criticism from citizens across the country, who recognize the investment opportunity cryptocurrencies present.
According to the Central Bank of Nigeria, the rationale driving their decision is the safety and security of Nigerians against financial fraud. As cryptos are not considered a legal tender, if a situation arises where traders lose their crypto’s due to fraud or the collapse of a crypto trading company, they stand the chance of losing all monies without any legal redress.
This information demonstrates that the government is making certain decisions with the right intentions in place, albeit laced with insensitive and frankly inconsiderate implementation.
The ban comes on the back of several other questionable decisions that have been made by the government, most recently it’s directive towards citizens to register and provide a National Identification Number (NIN) number in the heat of a pandemic before the 9th of February 2021, to continue using their mobile lines. After several pushbacks, this, of course, has been deferred to a later date, with a painless tech-enabled option for generating ones NIN in the works.
Technology is evolving at a breakneck speed, and countries all around the world are invested in developing and adopting innovations that improve the lives of its citizens. This does not seem to be the case for Nigeria, and it raises the question Is the Nigerian Government allergic to Technology and Innovation?
There are several instances where a little bit of innovative thinking and technology can go a long way to reduce the long queues for citizens at public offices and opportunities for corrupt activities. A few examples include:
- Utilizing consumer data from telecommunications companies to generate and issue NIN numbers to citizens across the country.
- An Integrated online Vehicle Permit and drivers License generating portal.
- An integrated online Building permits generating portal.
These examples are just a few of the many public processes that require an innovative intervention, which makes one wonder if the ministries involved have a budget for technology and innovation.
“Did you know that the total amount allocated to technology acquisition is ₦24.5 Billion”
This train of thought led towards the analysis of the National budget for the identification of ministries with a tech budget and the supposed software spent on.
A report has been composed by Techplus analysts and can be accessed here. Through this, we hope to track what is supposedly spent on technology by the Nigerian government and where to successfully identify challenges faced in implementation.
When looking at the availability of technological improved processes, the adoption rate of resulting innovations is considered an important factor and can be perceived as a reason for the delayed provision of these services by the government. This rationale makes sense when observed through the lens of the demand and supply mechanism, however, fails to consider incipient demand.
As humans, we are always looking to maximise our time and would always welcome faster ways of performing day-to-day activities regardless of our literacy levels. If it solves a key problem Nigerians will adopt it, a perfect example is the rise of the USSD payment portal. With this in mind, its important the Nigerian government start to take active measures towards investing in innovative solutions that improve the lives of the average citizen across the nation, not just in cities.
In the next article, I would shed more light on several innovative ideas that could be implemented by the Nigerian government.
Contributor: Ade Jinadu