Remarks by Economic Counselor Alan Tousignant Global Innovation through Science and Technology TechConnect Event: Knowing When to Seek Capital and Whe

(as prepared for delivery) 

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to welcome all of you from the technology, business, civil society, and government sectors to this Global Innovation through Science and Technology speaker and discussion session.  This year, we are honored to partner with the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and the Africa Information and Communication Technologies Alliance (AfICTA).

Technology and innovation are powerful generators of economic growth.   Eliminatinge barriers to accessing cutting edge technologies, advanced systems, equipment, and devices is one of the most effective ways that countries can attract investment in information communication technology (ICT).   Cutting trade and investment barriers indicates that a country has a welcoming business climate.  As we recognize the critical role of innovation and technology in our economies, we also acknowledge that the global nature of advanced technology requires an open flow of goods, services, and skills around the world.

In a few minutes, entrepreneurs and youth across the globe will join a panel of U.S. experts to discuss ways to secure capital and resources to start a business.  All of you here are part of a growing force of future businessmen and businesswomen, innovators, engineers, and investors, who will write the future and fortune of Nigeria.  Your innovation, energy, creativity, and acquisition of knowledge, skills and innovative partnerships will determine Nigeria’s success in years to come.

We recognize the critical role that youth and entrepreneurs play in advancing the latest technology and improving economic opportunities around the globe.  The Internet facilitates the ability to identify capital, partners, investors, and markets related to the businesses one wants to grow.    For example, the Internet has linked even very small businesses with global supply chains and has created growth opportunities for entrepreneurs.   Strategic risk-takers then have the ability to reach global markets and increase competition by offering quality products at lower prices.

The Internet has also transformed international trade.  The digitization of commerce has provided new ways to deliver goods, including digital products, such as software and apps.  The Internet has also improved ways to order and deliver physical products and services.  Global value chains hinge on data services that connect the production lines of numerous countries.  The fastest growing services are ICT enabled services.

As Nigeria seeks to grow its ICT sector, we encourage the nation to continue to work cooperatively with global ICT companies as consultative partners, including in the regulatory process.  When seeking to maximize the benefits of the ICT sector, any measures that would unduly restrict the ways ICT companies can operate would undermine this process.  For example, imposing  data localization requirements may  increase costs to local businesses, block access to customers, and hinder attempts at achieving data security.  More and more businesses rely on cloud service providers and other Internet-based platforms to store and process business data and to extend their own international reach into markets overseas.  The global free flow of data goes hand in hand with the global free flow of financial services, including sources of credit and investment that are crucial for entrepreneurs.

A regulatory ecosystem that fosters and rewards innovation and modern technology is crucial for economic growth.  International cooperation and working with open-minded entrepreneurs, youth, and innovators like you are vital to ensuring global economic growth and strengthening Nigeria’s economy.

I hope each one of you will be a force to enable the technology to transform the society and economy in a positive way.  I know the Government of Nigeria appreciates how important Internet access and a vibrant ICT sector are to improving all spheres of life and to developing the competitiveness of Nigeria’s economy.

In closing, we would like to thank NITDA for its close working relationship with our Embassy and to commend the work that AfICTA has done in fulfilling the promise of the digital age for companies, organizations, and individuals across 23 nations in Africa, and its relentless advocacy for a multi-stakeholder approach to Internet governance.    I hope you find today’s event inspiring and useful.  Thank you.