Active mobile subscriptions in the country have grown to over 120 million in 12 years and according to statistics published by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) telephone penetration stood at 81 per cent at the end of December 2012.
“We are seeing a lot of interest particularly from Telco’s and the big investments that have come into ICT [Information and communications technology] over the last five years were from the Telco’s putting investment into infrastructure,” Omobola Johnson, Nigeria’s Minister of Communication and Technology told CNBC Africa.
The latest data by the NCC showed that Nigeria’s tele-density increased from less than 63. 11 per cent by the end of year 2010 to 85.25 per cent in June 2013, representing a 22.14 per cent rise. Nonetheless, Johnson believes that while there is continued investment in infrastructure, there is growing interest in the venture capital.
“There is a lot of interest in the venture capital which is funding to support local software engineers that are doing tremendous things in terms of innovation whether its mobile money or e-commerce, that’s where we are seeing a lot of attraction and we are hoping to actually increase attraction in that particular side of the sector,” she explained.
In 2012, the Nigerian government announced the launch of a 15 million US dollar venture capital fund to fund high potential businesses in the ICT sector.
“It has been delayed but I’m happy to say that we will do it this year, we’ve actually engaged a fund manager that will actually raise the funds and manage it for us going forward,” she said.
The National Information Development Agency was expected to commit 3.6 million US dollars to funding while the rest of the funds would be raised by the private sector.
“We started raising activities right now and are trying to raise funds to actually begin to invest and finally we should get the government seed into that fund which will be about 500 and 1 billion naira. We should get that seed into that fund this year as well. It’s been a little bit delayed but 2014 is the year that we will deliver that IT innovation fund,” she added.