Key government initiatives that influenced Nigeria’s digital sector in 2023

Social Media Plug-ins:

Despite the turbulence of slow funding that led to the closure of some tech startups, the Nigerian ICT industry recorded some wins in 2023.

Indeed, for some of the startups that were able to raise funds in the year, it was a big win, and for the industry in general, several policies of the government came into light this year, signaling a better 2024, if well implemented.  

Markedly, 2023, being an election year in Nigeria ushered in a new administration. With that came new policies and changes of guards at various government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs).

The changes saw the emergence of Bosun Tijani, a staunch member of the tech ecosystem as the Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy.

Notably, the purview of the ministry was expanded to include ‘Innovation’, emphasising the administration’s focus in the tech space.

While the immediate past administration had also made some key policy announcements relating to the tech industry before its exit on May 29, 2023, here are some of the key policies that shaped the industry in 2023: 

iDICE launched to support tech and creative sectors 

In March, the Federal Government of Nigeria launched a $672 million fund to support tech and creative sectors for young entrepreneurs in the country.

The immediate past Vice President Yemi Osinbajo launched the $672 million fund under the Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises (i-DICE) program.  

Tinubu’s administration took over the project on assumption of office and set up an implementation committee headed by Vice President Kashim Shettima.

For the project, the African Development Bank is to put in $170 million, Agence Francaise de Developpement is to contribute $116 million will, and another $70 million from Islamic Development Bank.  

The government through the Bank of Industry Nigeria will release $45 million while the private sector pledged $271 million.  

Under i-DICE, constraints such as access to capital, and capacity limitation of Start-ups would be effectively addressed. But according to Osinbajo, more needs to be done to scale up such programs.  

  • “The government must provide more support for startups and small businesses, and investors must provide more funding. This is why the Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises Programme is important,” he said.  

5% telecom tax suspended  

Although the Buhari administration had early in the year announced its decision to put the implementation of the 5% tax on telecom services on hold, President Bola TInubu re-echoed this in July by ordering the suspension of the excise duty, thus bringing reprieve to Nigerians and the tech industry players riding on telecom services.  

  • The Excise Tax of 5% on telecommunication services has generated heated controversy. There is also a lack of clarity regarding the status of this tax, just as players in the sector also complain about the imposition of multiple taxes on their operations,” the Special Adviser, on Special Duties, Communication and Strategy, to the President, Dele Alake, stated while announcing the suspension. 

3MTT launched 

In a landmark move aimed at building the country’s capacity in tech, the Federal Government in October, launched the 3 Million Technical Talent (3MTT) program to train 3 million Nigerians in tech skills over the next 4 years. 

In the first phase of the program, 30,000 Nigerians have been selected and are currently undergoing training in different IT skills areas including Cybersecurity, Data Analysis, SEO, among several others.  

According to the Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijani, the program, a critical part of the Renewed Hope agenda, is aimed at building Nigeria’s technical talent backbone to power its digital economy and position Nigeria as a net talent exporter.   

Data Protection Act signed 

In June, President Bola Tinubu signed the Nigeria Data Protection Bill 2023 into law. The new law provides a legal framework for protecting and regulating personal information in the country.  

Recall that the Data Protection Bill was introduced to the Senate and House of Representatives for consideration and passage on Tuesday, 4 April 2023 via a letter from former President Muhammadu Buhari.

Now an Act, the new law establishes the Nigeria Data Protection Commission and replaces the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau (NDPB) established by President Buhari in February 2022. 

AI Policy 

Despite its shortcomings, global attention is shifting to Artificial Intelligence for economic development. In 2023, the Nigerian government also took some bold steps in this regard, starting from the development of the National AI Strategy to the empowerment of startups focusing on AI.  

In the latest of those moves, the Federal Government recently unveiled the list of 45 startups and individuals selected in its Nigeria Artificial Intelligence Research (NAIR) scheme. 

  • Each of the 45 startups and individuals is to receive a N5 million grant from the government to develop their AI projects.  
  • According to the Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, the selected AI researchers cut across healthcare, agriculture, finance, and education, and they can propel Nigeria’s tech landscape onto the global stage.  
  • He added that the Scheme aims to foster a vibrant and sustainable AI ecosystem in Nigeria by providing grants and facilitating knowledge sharing and collaboration among individuals and organizations in the AI industry. 

Nigeria Startup Act implementation 

The Nigeria Startup Act was signed into law in October 2022. However, there was no concrete implementation action until November 2023 when the government launched an engagement portal to register startups in the country. 

This came as the first move in implementing the Act. According to the Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr Bosun Tijani, the launch of the portal allows the government to initiate the process of setting up the startup consultative forums to select representatives to the National Council for Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship to facilitate discourse and consensus among Nigerian ecosystem players. 


Year 2023 is, no doubt, eventful for the tech industry. The various governments of the policies announced this year are expected to have bigger impacts in 2024.

However, this will depend on the political will to follow the implementation to the letter. With the foundations laid in 2023, the year 2024 should be a better year for the Nigerian tech sector.