The Nigerian tech space achieved a huge milestone in 2022 and also faced some challenges.
Most of these achievements remain a crucial factor needed to boost the country’s GDP and financial inclusion, and grow a fully digital economy.
Milestones experienced in the space include the rollout of 5G, the Start-up Act, the launch of Equiano cable, the launch of Payment Service Banks (PSBs), and the increase in broadband penetration.
Similarly, the sector experienced many challenges over the course of the year, including the massive loss of tech talent (Japa) and global layoffs.
The milestones and challenges in the sector are broken down below.
Launch of Payment Services Banks (PSBs)
The launch of payment service banks by MTN, Globacom and Airtel remains one of the main milestones for the sector in 2022.
MTN launched MoMo PSB, Airtel launched SmartCash PSB and Globacom launched MoneyMaster PSB.
Following final approval of a Payment Services Bank (PSB) license from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), MTN Nigeria’s fintech subsidiary, MoMo Payment Service Bank (MoMo PSB) Limited, formally began operations in May .
Similarly, Airtel Africa obtained a full payment services bank license from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) through its subsidiary in April and received in-principle approval in 2021.
Usoro Usoro, MTN momo PSB said, “Providing user-friendly, accessible and affordable financial services to all Nigerians is essential to executing CBN’s financial inclusion strategy and the digital inclusion agenda of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.”
However, Globacom also launched its payment services banking business called MoneyMaster PSB in October. Since then, the PSB had started commercial operations on May 30, 2022.
In a post-launch statement in Lagos, the telecommunications company stated that “our overall business objective remains to empower Nigerians by providing them with unlimited opportunities.”
After 11 bidding rounds lasting eight hours, Mafab Communications Ltd and MTN Nigeria Plc emerged as the two successful winners of the 3.5 gigahertz (GHz) spectrum auction for the deployment of fifth generation (5G) technology to support the delivery of ubiquitous broadband services in Nigeria.
The two winners emerged in a hotly contested 3.5GHz spectrum auction conducted by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.
MTN Nigeria kicked off an open 5G pilot ahead of commercial launch in seven cities, while Mafab is also expected to start soon
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Meanwhile, the second phase of the 5G bid is underway with Airtel emerging as the sole bidder and winner.
Airtel’s appearance as the sole bidder led NCC to cancel the entire auction process, announcing the telco as the winner of the 3.5GHz spectrum for the 5G license.
According to a statement issued by the NCC, which was signed by Reuben Muoka, Director of Public Affairs for the NCC, only two operators expressed interest in the auction of the 3.5 Hz spectrum band. They were Airtel Networks Limited and Standard Network and only Airtel was able to make the intention to offer deposit (IBD) payment from December 5, while the Standard Network was unable to meet after requesting additional time.
The deployment of 5G will help provide employment opportunities, achieve a fully digital economy and boost financial inclusion in Nigeria.
On April 21, 2022, Google and cable landing partner WIOCC announced the landing of the Equiano submarine cable in Lagos, Nigeria.
Named after Nigerian-born writer and abolitionist Olaudah Equiano, the cable is a state-of-the-art infrastructure based on Space Division Multiplexing (SDM) technology, with 12 fiber pairs and a design capacity of 144 Tbps, approximately 20 times more network capacity than the last cable built to serve this region. Equiano cable will help drive digital transformation in Nigeria.
Nigeria remains the second destination in Africa after Togo.
The submarine cable offers a fifth generation (5G) mobile service that stretches from Portugal along the west coast of Africa and connects Europe with Togo, Nigeria, Namibia, South Africa and Saint Helena.
The arrival of the submarine cable in Nigeria promises to change the internet experience of Nigerian people and businesses in the country in many different ways, while also providing millions of job opportunities.
Broadband penetration in Nigeria experienced a slight increase in 2022, from 39.9% in October 2021 to 45.6% in October 2022, when last updated by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). .
Industry statistics show that this growth represents an increase of 13 percent in 2022.
The overall analysis signifies slow growth in the 2022 broadband penetration rate which also showed it outperformed the previous year.
Industry insiders argued that the sector needs massive investment and guidelines to peak.
Speaking about the year’s broadband performance, Umar Danbatta, NCC executive vice president, says the commission is active in meeting its 70 percent broadband penetration target by 2025.
To meet the goal, NCC noted that emerging technologies and advancements in the sector would allow it to match these developments with appropriate regulations and guidelines.
“With anticipated technological advances in the coming years, it is expected that there will be a proliferation of devices in the industry. Therefore, it is essential that the Commission ensures that the appropriate regulatory frameworks can adapt to such eventualities,” said Danbatta.
Nigerian Home Law
On October 19, 2022, President Muhammadu Buhari signed into law the Nigerian Start-Up Act (NSB).
The NSB now known as the Nigeria Startup Act began in June 2021 and was approved by the country’s National Assembly in July.
This achievement was a joint initiative of the Nigerian tech startup ecosystem and the presidency with the aim of harnessing the potential of the country’s digital economy through jointly created regulations.
Isa Ali Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, said the bill will go a long way in creating and developing an enabling environment.
In addition, the startup law provides for the development and growth of technology-related talent.
Pantami added that there are provisions in the law that will change the narrative of the industry. He pointed out that one of the provisions includes the Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Council, which will be chaired by the president.
The task of the council is to guarantee the monitoring and evaluation of the regulatory framework and also to formulate and provide general policy guidelines for the realization of the objectives of the Startup Law and to give general instructions for the harmonization of laws and regulations that affect a startup.
Challenges Facing the Nigerian and Global Tech Space
The Great Resignation (Japa Wave)
While the tech ecosystem has seen an increase in the number of startups and tech hubs, attracting millions of dollars in investment, not a few Nigerian tech talents are leaving the country or looking to leave the country.
Many have quit their jobs for a better offer abroad, leaving companies in Nigeria starved of tech talent.
The global tech industry has seen 119,155 employees laid off by 887 companies this year, marking the most layoff activity in the industry, data from Layoffs.fyi shows.
The spate of tech job cuts was a reaction to the macroeconomic downturn in many major markets fueled by accelerating inflation, exchange rate volatility and new limits on venture capital funding.
Layoff activities in 2022 have so far surpassed the peak reached in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic forced millions of businesses to shut down and work remotely.
Most of the companies affected by these mass layoffs include Facebook, Twitter, Stripe, Snapshot, Coinbase, and Meta, among others.