The ICT Explosion in Nigeria – Canadian Businesses Take Note

By Mary Ellen Havlik, Senior Regional Advisor, West Africa, Veracity Worldwide

Canadian businesses across a variety of sectors have begun to cautiously explore the Nigerian marketplace, and with good reason.  Its consumer base of 170 million people makes it by far the largest market in Africa, while ongoing revisions to its GDP calculation method is likely to confirm it as the continent’s largest economy, ahead of South Africa. Nigeria’s business and economic growth potential cannot be denied – the economy has sustained an annual GDP growth rate of more than 6% in recent years – and ICT is deeply embedded in the country’s future success.

As the Government of Nigeria begins to adapt its services to the online environment, leaders in a number of key economic sectors are seeking to modernize the services they provide through technology. Included are education, healthcare, trade and investment, and banking. Rising demand for mobile banking services has been the catalyst to the banking sector’s drive to enhance its technological capacity and new infrastructure is under construction across the country.

With more than 110 million cellular lines, but a mere 65% mobile penetration rate, Nigeria is one of the largest telecoms markets in the world. It is also ranked as the fastest-growing in Africa and the second fastest in the world, having expanded by 10% from 2012 to 2013. Over the next year, the country’s four largest telecoms service providers plan to invest more than $6 billion USD on network expansion, while expansion of domestic broadband services remains the top priority of the sector.

What This Means for Canadian IT Companies

Opportunities abound for Canadian manufacturers and suppliers of network infrastructure equipment, transmission and switching equipment, data communication equipment and terminals.  Hand-held devices such as smart phones are set to modernize the market and Canadian suppliers can still find space in this supply sector.

Mobile devices used in enabling security services, financial services and even tele-health care are in demand.  Government IT strategies to spur the massive adoption of digital technology have resulted in opportunities for companies that supply devices that support distance learning, entertainment, and social media.

As the country converts from analog to digital television broadcasting, there is also growing demand for digital transmission equipment.

Several Canadian IT companies have already successfully crafted their entry into this lucrative market through vetted, trustworthy partners and good links to reliable Government personnel and services.

The future of Nigeria is now.

Mary Ellen Havlik is Senior Regional Advisor, West Africa, for Veracity Worldwide, a consultancy that advises companies on political, corruption, and reputation risks in challenging markets. She is based in Abuja, Nigeria, and can be reached at or on Twitter: @meh9ja.