By Adedapo Adesanya

The Vice President of Nigeria, Mr. Yemi Osinbajo, has reiterated the need to bridge the business gap with the rapid growth of innovation and technology recorded over the years globally.

This was the view of the vice president in a pre-recorded speech at a weekend ceremony in Lagos to mark the 20th anniversary of Interswitch, a leading financial technology company in Nigeria and Africa.

He said there are even more exciting new frontiers to be explored and seized by Nigeria’s talented young entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs.

Speaking at the ceremony on Saturday night, Mr. Osinbajo noted that “as innovation and technology open up exciting new frontiers in medicine and healthcare, we can be sure that Nigeria will not be left behind.”

Noting that “innovative disruptions thrive in natural and human-caused gaps within the system,” the vice president added that many of them are in Africa.

According to the Vice President, “that is why our continent is undoubtedly the next and possibly the last frontier.”

“Across the continent, there are huge gaps waiting to be filled by innovative ideas and entrepreneurial efforts. It is exciting to see how energetic young people, in particular, rise to the challenge and the fast pace of creative interruptions in their wake,” she added.

Speaking further about the incredible talents and potential of Nigerian and African youth to drive socio-economic growth, the Vice President stated that, “In 2021 alone, African tech startups raised more than $4 billion in funding, with more than 564 start-ups across the continent solving critical problems in almost every sector.

“Within the next two decades, Africa’s labor force will be the largest in the world. They are skilled, and they are coming. As a result, even more innovative disruptors will emerge to fill more of these gaps.”

Mr. Osinbajo further said that President Buhari’s administration would continue to provide the conducive environment for young entrepreneurs and businesses to prosper.

“Our responsibility as government has been to meet them halfway and perhaps overcome them with corresponding creativity in providing forward-thinking regulatory frameworks and adequate infrastructure. I can assure you that no effort is spared in this regard.

“However, much remains to be done; and a lot of ground to cover. However, I have no doubt that we are up to the task, ”she emphasized.

The vice president observed that “it is through innovative disruptions that humans have managed to solve their most complex challenges and stay ahead of the survival curve.

“Often these ideas are championed by mavericks who find better, safer, and more profitable ways to live, do business, and govern; slight tweaks that improve our overall experience and full overhauls that take us down new paths.”

On what he described as ‘a rigorous two decades of fast-paced change’ since Interswitch was founded 20 years ago, he noted that it was “incredible that what started as a novel idea to facilitate seamless payments in Africa has turned into just two decades.” into something of a technology and innovation icon who is literally pioneering the ongoing Fintech revolution in Africa.”

The vice president described Interswitch “as a leading company at the forefront of agency banking and financial inclusion in Nigeria”, which “also operates the largest and fastest growing private sector led national card scheme in the world. ”.

He further noted, “It is, therefore, a testament to the quality of talent and courage of Interswitch’s founders who saw the future clearly and predicted the potential of a nascent technology for scale and application.”

Situating Interswitch further into the innovative disruption that has since transformed Nigeria’s fintech space, Mr. Osinbajo recalled that “in 2002, only 569 million people were connected to the internet worldwide. Nigeria as a whole had fewer than 200,000 people with Internet access. In fact, PayPal, one of the pioneering electronic payment companies of the Internet age, was barely four years old at the time.

Since then, Africa’s domestic electronic payments market has grown 20 percent annually in the past two years and is forecast to reach $40 billion by 2025, the vice president said.

“It is estimated that around half of all future digital payments will come from Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, Ghana and Kenya, with Nigeria experiencing the fastest growth at 35 percent per year. Much of this, of course, is due to the pioneering efforts of Interswitch. Its rapid expansion, already serving customers in more than 23 African markets, is an ample demonstration of the growing vitality.”