“Today, Nigeria has five of the seven unicorns in Africa and raised almost $1.4 billion of the total of $4 billion raised by fintech companies across Africa in 2021.”
The African Development Bank (AfDB), the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), and the French Development Agency (FDA) are investing 618 million dollars in the Digital and Creative Enterprises Programme (I-DICE) in Nigeria.
President of the AfDB, Akinwumi Adesina, announced this at the Nigeria International Economic Partnership Forum on the sideline of the 77th United Nations General Assembly, New York.
Mr Adesina said the programme would support the creation of 225 creative start-ups and 451 digital technologies small and medium-sized enterprises, or digital SMEs.
The AfDB president added that the enterprises would create 6.1 million jobs and add $6.4 billion to the economy.
“That is the power of international partnerships working for Nigeria. Investors must recognise this and invest. The future is not just digital; the future will be driven by digital revolution. Today, Nigeria has five of the seven unicorns in Africa and raised almost $1.4 billion of the total of $4 billion raised by fintech companies across Africa in 2021,” Mr Adesina stated.
He added, “When you think of financial services digital innovations, think Nigeria, with Flutterwave, OPay, Andela and Interswitch holding the status of unicorn companies, worth at least one billion dollars each.”
The AfDB president also explained that the bank invested $4.5 billion in Nigeria and that the country remained an attractive investment destination.
He further said AfDB, International Fund for Agricultural Development, and IsDB provided $540 million to develop Special Agro-industrial processing zones to help unlock the agricultural potential in Nigeria.
“This financing will boost food and agribusiness value chains across Nigeria and make Nigeria more competitive,” he said.
He also called for increased international partnerships in Nigeria, adding that the bank had invested $44 billion in infrastructure in Africa over the past six years.
Furthermore, Mr Adesina said the growth in Nigeria would depend on its ability to fix its infrastructure deficits.
“The National Integrated Infrastructure Masterplan shows that Nigeria will need a total financing of $759 billion to support infrastructure over a 23-year horizon (2020-2043),” he added. “These covers tackling the crippling lack of energy to power the economy, including power generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure, water and sanitation, and transport infrastructure.”
Moreover, he said Nigeria had a debt level of N42.84 trillion or $103 billion with an external debt level of N16.61 trillion or about $40 billion. He stressed that the country needed help to tackle its debt burden.
“International partnerships on debt are helping Africa and Nigeria. The issuance of special drawing rights (SDRs) by the International Monetary Fund of $650 billion helped to provide liquidity support to countries, with Africa receiving only $33 billion,” said Mr Adesina. “African countries need more.”
He noted that Nigeria and other African countries “need debt relief” and that “they cannot run up the hill carrying a backpack full of sand.” The AfDB president also stressed international partnerships to tackle climate change.