Powering Nigeria29 October 2013

Sarah Caddy

“By 2050, there will be more Nigerians than Americans”. The wake-up call to the country’s capacity for prominence came from the BBC’s Komla Dumor (@BBCkomladumor), chair of a morning panel at EMPEA and This Is Africa’s most recent African private equity conference in London.

Komla was speaking to a converted audience; his panel on ‘Realising Africa’s economic promise’ focused almost entirely on the opportunities for investment in that country. The sector of preference was also clear, with Jan Rielaender, Economist at The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) citing access to power as the leading concern for small companies – and drivers of growth – in Nigeria. With investors vying for the opportunity to provide capital, infrastructure and expertise to rehabilitate the Nigerian power sector following its privatisation process, it awaits to be seen how long it will take for a steady power supply to run. Predictions in the coffee breaks centred around the 4-5 year mark.

Speaking in a keynote session, Arunma Oteh, Director General, at the Securities and Exchange Commission, Nigeria also highlighted technology as a particular focus for fundraising. Well she might: Nigeria’s internet subscriber base grew from 200,000 in 2000 to over 44 million by 2010, and the country’s internet business is estimated to be worth $250 million. The fact that the future of the technology sector’s success also depends upon power infrastructure investment merely highlights that for now, the focus must be on powering up Nigeria.