The Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Ministry of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, has unveiled plans to collaborate with the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX) to stimulate listings of startups on the newly created NGX Technology Board.
The announcement was made by the Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani, during a technology-focused event titled “Invest in Africa’s Future – Let’s talk about exits.” The event was organized jointly by the Ministry, NGX, and Future Africa and was held in New York on September 21, 2023. It was supported by prominent financial institutions including Stanbic IBTC, CardinalStone Partners, and Chapel Hill Denham.
Minister Tijani emphasized the need for Nigeria to diversify its economy, especially considering the country’s over-reliance on the oil sector in recent years. He stressed that diversification required boosting productivity in various sectors through technological innovation. The Minister noted that the current administration, led by President Bola Tinubu, is particularly focused on leveraging technology and innovation for economic development.
Among the Minister’s goals and ambitions are the creation of a favorable regulatory environment for fintech companies, improving access to funding, particularly from angel investors, enhancing digital infrastructure, facilitating the export of technology products and services, and collaborating with NGX to provide tailored listing options for startups through its Technology Board.
Minister Tijani stated, “We cannot do all of this as a country if we do not prioritize innovation and encourage entrepreneurs to build. Nigeria is now open to investments. We want to prioritize the ability of our technology companies to export products, targeting Africa first and eventually expanding to the global market.”
During the same event, Temi Popoola, CEO of NGX, reaffirmed the Exchange’s commitment to support the Minister’s agenda and President Bola Tinubu’s mandate. He emphasized the pivotal role of technology as an enabler of the capital market and expressed NGX’s dedication to fostering innovation within the market to attract a broader spectrum of investors and established tech companies to list on the platform.
Popoola also discussed the challenges surrounding listings, highlighting the current imbalance between demand for private capital and public capital. He revealed that NGX is in discussions with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to explore options for private markets, enabling the Exchange to engage with non-listed companies, including startups.
“We will continue to work diligently to remove barriers that prevent tech startups from listing on the exchange. When tech startups come to the NGX, we are confident that there will be a significant audience of investors eager to own a share of their success,” Popoola stated.
Olugbenga Agboola, CEO of Flutterwave, emphasized his company’s focus on Nigeria as a strategic market, with most of its investible capital deployed in the country since its inception. He expressed Flutterwave’s commitment to leveraging opportunities created by the markets to scale its operations and provide enhanced value to its customers and investors.
Bolaji Balogun, CEO of Chapel Hill Denham, shared his optimism regarding the Nigerian investment community’s ability to participate in the ongoing capital formation within the tech sector. He stressed the importance of ensuring that the intellectual property emerging from this sector is not solely controlled by foreign markets, emphasizing the need for active local involvement.