Saudi Arabia Digital Economy—Digital Cooperation Organization (DCO), a Saudi Arabian-based organization, recently launched the Startup Passport initiative for African tech firms, including Nigeria.
To reach new markets in Africa, Startup Passport streamlines cross-border business transactions and lowers transaction costs for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Today, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Communications and Technology held the first LEAP, a conference and exhibition on technology organized by Saudi Arabia’s Department of Communication and Information.
DCO Secretary-General Deema Al-Yahya described the Startup Passport during the launch that it would speed up access and support in the marketplaces of eight DCO countries.
Al-Yahya stated that the effort would begin in Saudi Arabia and Nigeria before being pushed out to other African countries. The original member nations of DCO are Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia.
To achieve its goals, the DCO is concentrating on ten key areas: connectivity, cross-border data flows, ethical technology use, digital identity management, data pooling and privacy, mobility of skilled ICT workers, adoption of emerging technologies, alignment with digital taxation, and cooperation in R&D and innovation.
According to Al-Yahya, the program will minimize administrative and financial constraints and expedite the registration of businesses and other procedures for entrepreneurs.
“They will be allowed to join the markets of other DCO member states with this passport.” To expand the digital economy for the benefit of all countries, we must coordinate our efforts and share our skills, as she explained.
The DCO also backed Elevate50, a program that aims to help 50,000 small and medium-sized businesses sell their products online over the next three years.
Secretary-General DCO said the inaugural LEAP was expected to become the world’s largest debut technology platform, highlighting the whole innovation ecosystem and linking pioneers and disruptors with business and governmental leaders, entrepreneurs, and investors.
A total of ten Nigerian firms are expected to compete for a $600,000 startup support award with others from across the world.
Along with the ceremony, the $1 billion Prosperity7 diverse growth fund was officially launched by Saudi Aramco Ventures, the venture financing arm of Saudi Aramco.
Entrepreneurs from around the world, including Nigeria, are backed by the fund, which aims to create revolutionary businesses and solve some of the world’s most pressing issues. Prosperity7 helps its portfolio firms grow and expand into new areas by providing them with the financing and connections they need.
The CEO of Saudi Aramco said: “Prosperity7 will connect the dots by bringing together big ideas, top people, and disruptive technologies from around the world to find viable solutions to the world’s most pressing concerns,” Amin Nasser said in a statement.
More than $40 billion has been estimated to be invested in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s technology sector due to LEAP 2022, which was held in Riyadh this week.
Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Abdullah Alswaha, said: “Investments and initiatives are a reflection of the Kingdom’s push toward the growth of the digital economy for the greater good of people, the planet, and the prosperity of the MENA region. With this, Saudi Arabia’s digital economy, the region’s largest technology, and the digital market move to the next level.”
More than 318,000 jobs have been created in Saudi Arabia in the ICT sector in the last few years, and women’s participation has risen to 28 percent. As a result, Saudi Arabia remains the regional leader in technical talent.
Nigerian Startups Enjoy Booming Saudi Arabia Digital Economy
A perennial worry for Nigerian entrepreneurs is the lack of infrastructure, finance, and expertise to support their operations. The continent’s high starting failure rate is primarily due to these concerns.
Only 39 percent of new businesses in Nigeria are expected to survive in 2021, according to a 61 percent failure rate. African startup failure rates range from 75% in Ethiopia and 74% in Ghana to 58% in Senegal and 58% in Kenya. Across the continent, these rates are similar.
Digital Cooperation Organization (DCO) Startup Passport is a partnership between Saudi Arabian and Nigerian authorities to expedite the entry and support of Nigerian entrepreneurs in the Saudi Arabian market.
Saudi Arabia and Nigeria were the first two countries to use the Startup Passport project, which was eventually used by all eight DCO countries. If this statement is accurate, Saudi Arabia is encouraging Nigerian entrepreneurs to set up shop there and receive government backing for MENA-focused businesses.
On February 1 to 3, the world’s biggest technological companies, global startup pioneers, and venture capitalists gathered in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, for LEAP, an international event for future technologies.
There are strong links between Saudi Arabia and Nigeria, according to Saudi Deputy Minister for Future Jobs and Capabilities Faris AlSaqabi.
For the digital economy to thrive, Nigeria is a significant role.” Because you can’t do it on your alone, we’ve decided to work with other countries.
Additionally, “The Garage,” a world-class innovation hub for new and disruptive technology-based startups, was revealed at LEAP. Many of the world’s most successful tech companies started in garages, hence the term.
The Nigerian Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Pantami, the Nigerian Communications Commission’s Chief Executive Officer, Umar Danbatta, and other delegates attended the conference. “We may learn from Saudi Arabia’s success by removing the term impossible from our vocabulary. Pantami told TechCabal, “We should be optimistic about any ambitions we have for transforming Nigeria.” Saudi Arabia’s digital economy will be evident to anyone returning to the country after observing changes. Institutions like theirs are no longer out of date. In addition to being sophisticated, they are proactive.”
According to him, attending the conference provides an opportunity to meet with investors, government officials, tech giants, and startup businesses. “We’ve had several talks with investors about how they might come and invest in Nigeria. Some of the world’s leading technology companies are interested in setting up manufacturing operations in Nigeria.”
According to Pantami, investors are attracted to Nigeria because of the country’s vast economy, young population, and recent recovery from the recession. However, the country still has several flaws that need to be addressed.
First, they were startled to learn that Nigeria had six unicorns, and more were on the way. As a significant factor in lifting the country out of recession, the digital economy has rapidly expanded.
Domineum, Tanadi, Rice Afrika, and seven more Nigerian entrepreneurs were also in attendance at the Nigerian delegation.
LEAP has disclosed investments in technology and businesses totaling $10 billion.
More than $1 billion has been invested in NEOM Tech & Digital Company, and Aramco Venture’s Prosperity7 fund focused on future technologies. The Saudi Telecom Company will support one billion dollars in regional connectivity and infrastructure as part of the MENA HUB initiative.
It was also announced that the creative industry would get $1.1 billion in investment through Ignite. Saudi Arabia is expected to become a prominent center for digital entertainment and media production due to this new initiative.
New WiFi 6E was launched to improve internet service, supported by the enormous WiFi spectrum available worldwide. Additionally, the first regional trial of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite technology is being used to expand reliable service to the Kingdom’s remotest places.
To achieve Saudi Arabia’s goal of diversifying its economy and decreasing its dependence on oil, these pronouncements are linked.
Changes in Saudi Arabia since the Vision 2030 campaign began in 2016 include liberalizing the country’s entertainment industry, granting tourist visas, and lowering travel restrictions, as well as ending Saudi Arabia’s longstanding ban on women drivers in 2018—the world’s last country to do so.
According to AlSaqabi, “We’re thinking about the future of our people’s jobs, and the developing technologies since soon millions of current jobs will be replaced. This indicates that we’ll lose millions of dollars if we don’t implement new technologies. There is no reason for us to sit back and wait for the future to arrive; we must actively participate in it.”