Keynote Remarks

I’m grateful to Dr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu, CEO of Zenith Bank, and all the organizers for inviting me here today. I believe the theme of this seminar, “Nigerian Non-Oil Export Industry: The Present and The Future,” is both significant and timely. 

Nigeria’s non-oil sector is emerging as an important part of our national growth. The vision of the Central Bank of Nigeria, coupled with the efforts of institutions like Zenith Bank, have created the perfect opportunity for  this essential transformation.I also want to acknowledge the important work of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, in creating and implementing strategies and solutions for a growing economy like ours. 

As we delve into the endless opportunities within our non-oil sector, let us first recognize our achievements. Last year alone, Nigeria’s non-oil exports grew by nearly 40% to $5.6 billion, spanning over 200 different products and reaching 122 countries. This is because of programmes by the council like Export 774, which compiles and promotes export potentials of all the 774 local government areas in the country. That’s progress, but there is more potential waiting to be harnessed because Nigeria is one of Africa’s most dynamic economies, and we have incredible talent. 

Currently, our vibrant cultural heritage has already resonated across the globe. From Nollywood to Afrobeat, our Creatives have shown the world a glimpse of our soul. Nollywood is one of the world’s fastest growing creative industries, according to an Afrexim- bank report, worth $6.4 billion in 2021 and growing at 10% per year. On just one platform called Spotify, the Afrobeat genre has amassed 13.5bn streams up from 2bn streams 4 years ago and the industry has an annual revenue of over $2bn. 

Nigeria is a potential gold mine for what I call Human Resources export. Much talk about brain drain but in 2022, Nigeria recorded $20.13bn in remittances. The digital sector’s contribution to GDP grew from 13.7% in 2018 to 15.35% in Q3 2022, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. Just a few weeks ago, Interswitch partnered with Google Play, allowing users to pay for some of Google’s services in Naira, contributing to strengthening the Naira. And of course there’s our partnership with Audiomack and Netflix to ensure that people do not need to source for dollars to pay for some of these foreign services. 

Designers, Developers, Digital Marketers etc are springing up across Lagos, Enugu, Kaduna etc and earning good money from foreign customers. We’re doing wonders in growing service exports in Nigeria.  Yet, if we want to increase upon these gains we need to go above and beyond to invest heavily in the digital economy. Additionally, we have to create policies and engage in partnerships that will create value for the digital ecosystem. 

I’ll start with regulatory frameworks. In July 2023, the Central Banks of Nigeria and Egypt, two of the top four Fintech Markets in Africa, signed an MoU establishing the “Nigeria-Egypt Fintech Bridge”. This is a big win as it can facilitate joint regulatory projects, coordinated licensing and improved legal frameworks. Governments should also partner with the private sector in ways that make them actively invest in high yield skills for people in the digital economy. 

At Flutterwave, we just concluded training of 200 Graduate Trainees who now have marketable skills like Design, Software Engineering, Digital Marketing, Data Analytics etc. They can decide to freelance their skills and service foreign customers, contributing to the growth of our service export. A lot of private sector organizations are also investing in high yield digital skills acquisition for young people and the government can support these initiatives so we can scale this to many more people. If we do that, along with other regulatory improvements, we will be positioned to fully harness the potential of these sectors. 

Luckily for us, we have technological prowess.  

We are a nation of innovators, pioneers, and dreamers – a nation bubbling with technological ingenuity. I am fortunate to lead one of such startups redrawing the boundaries of innovation in Nigeria, Flutterwave.Companies like Flutterwave, Andela,  OPay, Interswitch, Kuda, Mono, Piggyvest and Paystack are just the tip of the iceberg in our thriving digital ecosystem. The next Google, Tesla, or Microsoft can indeed have its roots in Nigeria. We just need all the support and partnerships to grow and strengthen this ecosystem. 

I must say that the journey so far has not been without obstacles and the future will come with its own challenges. However, we must put all hands on deck to make these challenges the building blocks of our growth. That is, our success depends on fostering an environment that nourishes creativity, streamlines regulation, and provides financial support and infrastructure to the digital ecosystem. 

The synergy between government agencies, financial institutions, the private sector, and international partners is our roadmap to success. Once again, I thank Dr. Onyeagwu, Zenith Bank, and all of you for providing me with this opportunity.Together, we can shape the future of our nation’s economy, and together, we can ensure that Nigeria’s place in the global market is not just prominent but exemplary.

Thank you.

Published by GB

CEO and Founder