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Sparking Innovation: Strategies to Make Nigeria a Hub for New Ideas and Enterprises

Nigeria is brimming with talent, creativity, and entrepreneurial drive. With visionary leadership, smart policies, and strategic investments, Nigeria can become a powerhouse of innovation and a magnet for talent and capital from around the world. Here are bold strategies and actionable ideas to make Nigeria a hub for new ideas, technologies, and high-growth enterprises.

Boost R&D funding and incentives.

Robust funding for research and development (R&D) is crucial to laying the foundations for innovation. Nigeria’s R&D spending as a percentage of GDP lags at just 0.2%, compared to 2-4% in advanced economies.


  • Increase government R&D spending to at least 1% of GDP. Earmark funds for strategic areas like AI, biotech, and advanced manufacturing.
  • Provide super-deductions on R&D spending by private sector firms and tax credits.
  • Set up competitive innovation grants and funds for researchers and startups.
  • Strengthen R&D capabilities in universities via collaborations and incentives.

Nurture technology clusters.

Geographic clusters where innovative firms, startups, universities, and investors congregate can accelerate innovation. They enable knowledge sharing, partnerships, and growth.


  • Develop technology parks, incubators, and shared R&D facilities, especially in Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Enugu, and other major cities. Provide incentives for companies to locate there.
  • Promote linkages between universities and companies to commercialise research and retain talent.
  • Facilitate networking events, hackathons, and accelerators to build robust startup ecosystems.

Examples include Yabacon Valley in Lagos and the Abuja Technology Village.

Strengthen intellectual property protection.

Strong intellectual property (IP) laws and enforcement mechanisms are vital to protect proprietary technology and encourage innovation.


  • Overhaul IP laws to meet the highest global standards of protection and enforcement.
  • Enable smooth tech transfer and IP licencing from universities and R&D labs to businesses.
  • Crackdown on piracy, patent infringement, and IP theft. Empower courts and agencies.
  • Raise IP awareness through educational campaigns.

Unleash tech entrepreneurship.

Nigeria already has vibrant startup hubs like the Co-Creation Hub (CC-Hub) and the Wennovation Hub. But more is needed to unlock the huge potential of Nigerian entrepreneurs.

Strategies to boost tech entrepreneurship:

  • Strengthen STEM education and build a robust talent pipeline.
  • Provide tax holidays, subsidised infrastructure, and streamlined regulations for tech startups and SMEs.
  • Expand early-stage funding via angel networks and VC funds. Incentivize investments in startups.
  • Launch startup challenges and incubators focused on key sectors like agritech, healthtech, and cleantech.
  • Facilitate exposure to global markets through trade missions, accelerators, and diaspora networks.
  • Promote the success stories of Nigerian tech innovators and founders.

Catalyse private sector R&D

Private companies are major drivers of innovation via internal R&D. Policies should spur such investments.

Measures to encourage business R&D:

  • Tax incentives for R&D spending and tech infrastructure investments
  • Grants and loans for private R&D facilities and STEM talent development
  • Support IP protection, tech transfer, and commercialization.
  • Platforms for industry-academia collaboration on R&D
  • Upgraded scientific infrastructure accessible to firms.

Singapore’s public-private R&D initiatives provide a good model.

Invest in future technologies.

Targeted investments in strategic futuristic technologies can position Nigeria for long-term competitiveness.

Some emerging tech areas to prioritise:

  • Artificial Intelligence: Fund AI research institutes. Develop practical AI applications in agriculture, medicine, smart cities, etc.
  • Quantum Computing: Set up dedicated quantum labs and clusters. Sponsor studies in quantum cryptography, sensing, and communications.
  • Biotechnology: Build biotech parks. Enable precision medicine, ag-biotech, and bio-manufacturing enterprises.
  • Clean Energy: Support R&D and commercialization in solar, wind, hydro, biofuels, and green hydrogen.
  • Advanced Materials and Manufacturing: Develop expertise in materials science, additive manufacturing, robotics, Industry 4.0, etc.

Israel’s focus on cybersecurity and agritech provides good lessons.

Strengthen university R&D and tech transfer.

Universities must evolve beyond teaching institutions into hubs of research, innovation, and entrepreneurship.


  • Dramatically increase R&D funding for universities, especially in STEM fields.
  • Set up more university technology transfer offices to commercialise IP.
  • Incentivize partnerships between academia and industry.
  • Impart entrepreneurship training to students. Provide campus incubator facilities.
  • Attract global tech talent as faculty and researchers.

The Indian Institute of Technology’s success demonstrates this potential.

Empower women and youth.

Women and young people can unleash tremendous innovative capacity.

Ways to tap this potential:

  • Actively encourage girls to pursue STEM education and careers. Provide scholarships and mentorship programmes.
  • Support networks and funds focused on women tech entrepreneurs, like WISE Nigeria.
  • Create innovation clubs and maker spaces for youth. Sponsor startup competitions at schools and colleges.
  • Provide entrepreneurship education and seed funding to young founders.
  • Spotlight role models and achievements to inspire future innovators.

Enhance technical skills and digital literacy.

A nation of digitally empowered, skilled people is vital to participating in the innovation economy.

Some initiatives to boost capabilities include:

  • Incorporate digital skills like coding, design thinking, and data analytics into school curricula.
  • Expand vocational training programmes aligned with industry needs.
  • Subsidise advanced ICT training and STEM higher education.
  • Enable access to online learning platforms, maker spaces, and digital tools.

Countries like Estonia provide good models here.

Strengthen ICT infrastructure.

Robust digital infrastructure and connectivity provide the foundations for 21st-century innovation.

Key focus areas:

  • Expand high-speed broadband and 5G networks nationwide.
  • Develop data centres and cloud infrastructure to enable digital services.
  • Enable affordable internet access via public access points.
  • Streamline ICT regulations to boost private sector investment.
  • Adopt open data policies and digitise government services and records.

The UAE’s ICT infrastructure initiatives offer lessons for Nigeria.

Promote an innovation culture.

In addition to specific policies, a broader cultural shift is needed to embrace innovation, risk-taking, and entrepreneurship.

Ways to foster an innovation mindset:

  • Encourage critical thinking and creativity in education.
  • Highlight Nigerian innovators and entrepreneurs as role models.
  • Tolerate and encourage intelligent failure.
  • Promote collaboration between disciplines and sectors.
  • Inspire ambitious “moonshot” thinking and bold experimentation.
  • Recognise and reward ingenuity within and beyond technical fields.

Singapore’s innovation culture strategy provides a good example.

Facilitate Diaspora Networks

Nigeria’s vast diaspora can provide know-how, mentorship, funding, and global connections to boost innovation.

Steps to leverage the diaspora:

  • Actively engage diaspora professionals, entrepreneurs, and investors. Seek their input on policies.
  • Support networking platforms, conferences, and entrepreneurial initiatives.
  • Provide incentives for short-term assignments at Nigerian universities and startups.
  • Encourage joint ventures between the diaspora and local firms. Allow flexibility in work formats.
  • Spotlight diaspora success stories. Tap ambassadors to inspire youth.

Israel and India provide models for effectively engaging diaspora communities.

Welcome Foreign Talent

To complement local capabilities, Nigeria must proactively attract foreign experts, entrepreneurs, and investors.

Policies to enable this:

  • Offer expedited visas and tax incentives to foreign founders and experts in strategic fields.
  • Simplify business establishment rules. Allow flexibility in work permits and location requirements.
  • Provide grants and support to relocate promising startups.
  • Organise global conferences, challenges, hackathons, and recruitment drives to attract talent.
  • Establish international branch campuses of leading universities and R&D centres.


With bold policies, strategic investments, global collaborations, and cultural change, Nigeria can transform into a dynamic hub of technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship. By unleashing human capital and amplifying its strengths, Nigeria can leapfrog into an advanced economy powered by the ideas, skills, and dynamism of its people.

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