Technology has changed our lives at spectacular speed with the adoption of artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud computing and e-commerce. Moreover, the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is accelerating this transformation and underscoring the need to harness the digital economy as a driver of growth and innovation. Innovations in medicine, education, communication, and productivity are being leveraged to address the enormous challenges posed by the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Now more than ever, there is greater urgency for companies to adopt transformative technologies and new business models to be agile in the face of the disruption caused by the crisis. Concurrently, the pace of rapid technological advances is set to alter the future of work and create challenges for governments in building a policy environment that stimulates meaningful and large-scale employment for fast-growing populations post-COVID-19. There is also a recognition that streamlined policy frameworks and regulatory best practices are likely to drive the development and adoption of cutting-edge tools, such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI), which are likely to boost the growth of the digital economy.
The ongoing pandemic has demonstrated that digital innovation can offer new ways to address the biggest and most enduring challenges, whether in the health or economic sector. Countries with infrastructure that supports internet connectivity and advanced digital platforms are able to leverage information and communications technology (ICT) tools to help businesses and governments stay afloat and withstand the shocks posed by the COVID-19 induced economic downturn. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has had an adverse impact on the continent, it also presents an opportunity for governments to adopt a sound digital economy strategy that aids countries embarking on a path to economic recovery post-COVID-19.
Against this backdrop, the U.S.-Africa Business Center is pursuing its Digital Transformation Series to serve as a platform for engagement with government, the public sector, influencers, and academia. This platform is intended to foster discussion and debate on emerging challenges and policy implications arising at the intersection of Digital Transformation and the Sustainable Development Goals, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2018, the U.S. Chamber launched a report to enable the growth of Digital Economy in African countries with two annual conferences in Kenya (2018) and South Africa (2019).
The third edition of this series focuses on Nigeria, Africa's largest economy. In Nigeria, the ICT sector contributes 13.85% to the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In November 2019, the Government of Nigeria unveiled its National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy to accelerate the country's digital transformation. In February 2020, a U.S.-Nigeria Commercial and Investment Dialogue (CID) was held in Washington, D.C. to promote effective dialogue between policymakers and the private sector on key areas, including the digital economy, to improve the business climate and foster greater commercial bilateral engagement between the two countries.
The digital economy conference on Nigeria builds on these efforts and pursues the following objectives:
- Organize a Digital Entrepreneurship Competition that offers monetary and non-monetary mentorship prizes to the top three Nigerian startups
- Introduce and seek input into the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's paper "Enabling the Growth of the Digital Economy" in Africa
- Foster policy dialogue on the Nigerian digital economy across three distinct policy themes:
- Enabling Skills and Workforce Development to Drive Nigeria's Digital Transformation (Public Ministerial Panel)
- Enabling Trade to Drive Investment in Infrastructure and Cross-Border Data Flows (Private Parallel Session: Breakout 1)
- Enabling Effective Cybersecurity Policy to Strengthen Nigeria's Digital Ecosystem (Private Parallel Session: Breakout 2)
The Digital Economy Conference, scheduled for December 3, 2020, will draw upon the global knowledge, expertise, and creativity that exists in industry, the public sector, entrepreneurs, and academia to discuss the emerging policy implications and the need for partnership to deliver a trusted, responsible, and inclusive digital economy in Nigeria.
As part of the 2020 Digital Economy Conference, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's U.S.-Africa Business Center (USAfBC) and the American Business Council Nigeria (ABC Nigeria) are hosting a Digital Entrepreneurship Competition.
The competition will award innovators for developing solutions through digital products and services while creating a positive impact on Nigerian citizens during the onset of COVID-19. A Digital Innovation Award of $25,000 will be allocated in cash and in-kind contributions and will be distributed among the top three winners. This award is sponsored by Zenith bank and other companies supporting the conference.
If you or an innovator you know are interested in this competition, please apply via the website here.
Thursday, December 3, 2020
- 9:10 AM
- 9:14 AM
- 9:24 AM
- 9:27 AM
- 9:33 AM
- 9:49 AM
- 10:30 AM
The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that technology is a critical enabler for economic growth and job creation on the continent. In Nigeria, the government is in the process of implementing its newly unveiled Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (DEPS) to unleash the country's digital potential. The strategy intends to spur economic growth and curb the high unemployment exacerbated by the pandemic. By optimizing connectivity and internet access, Nigeria's growing young population will likely obtain the technical, digital, and industry-led skills necessary to succeed. This panel will discuss how the Nigerian government and the business community are currently partnering to develop the next generation of skills required to unleash the full potential of the digital economy to achieve Nigeria's development objectives.
- 10:37 AM
- 10:40 AM
- 10:50 AM
- 11:25 AM
Data is increasingly becoming the backbone of the modern economy, amidst the great lockdown led by the current global health crisis. In principle, the free flow of data across borders is a prerequisite for growing a competitive digital economy and enhancing the data privacy and security of Nigerian citizens. The recent entry into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has created new openings for unleashing business opportunities, improving intra-African trade, and modernizing trade and investment mechanisms throughout the continent. This session will bring together experts to discuss issues such as best practices and benefits of cross-border data flows, data privacy rules, and how to leverage AfCFTA to develop digital economy post-COVID-19.
Cyber attacks (impersonation, misuse of data, and hacking) increasingly make headlines in Nigeria and cost the government an estimated 75 billion naira a year. This session will discuss cybersecurity threats and the critical importance of building cross-functional teams to create a holistic approach that improves cyber outcomes. It will also cover the importance of private sector collaboration and the need to ensure that cybersecurity is not undermined by regulatory fragmentation. Taking into account Nigeria's past, current, and future challenges on tackling cyber-risks, this session will discuss how to effectively implement cybersecurity frameworks.
- 11:30 AM
Federal Republic of Nigeria