The Bumpy Ride of Technological Advancement in Northern Nigeria

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In Nigeria, technological advancement faces unique challenges, particularly in the northern regions where complexities such as digital divides and political interference add layers to the narrative of Progress. This spatial disparity affects the integration of critical technologies like artificial intelligence, blockchain, sustainability practices, decision-making platforms, and development within “Arewa”, anchoring the need for tailored strategies to overcome these barriers.

The country’s ambitious moves towards embracing modern technologies have seen the adoption of 5G, fostering a fertile ground for digital economy growth and diversification away from the oil and gas sector, driven by the potential of emerging technologies. This article will explore the rocky path of technological evolution in Northern Nigeria, assessing both the hurdles and the strides towards sustainability and digital inclusivity in decision-making processes and how these efforts align with the broader visions for a tech-empowered North.

The Digital Divide in Northern Nigeria

In navigating the digital terrain of Northern Nigeria, the contrast between urban and rural access to technology starkly highlights the prevailing digital divide. This divide, deeply rooted in disparities of wealth and education levels, significantly limits rural communities’ access to vital information, education, and economic opportunities.

  1. Affordability and Accessibility: To mitigate these challenges, prioritising affordable internet access in rural areas alongside promoting digital literacy emerges as crucial steps towards fostering technological growth within these communities.
  2. E-Commerce and Fintech Influence: E-commerce platforms and fintechs like Opay, Moniepoint, etc. have introduced a new dynamic to everyday living in Northern Nigeria, enhancing digital awareness and underscoring the benefits of e-commerce. Their efforts to expand the digital space have been pivotal in increasing local engagement with online platforms.
  3. Broadband Penetration and Connectivity: Despite these efforts, the broadband penetration rate in Nigeria stands at approximately 39 per cent, with a vast majority of connections being mobile broadband. This scenario is compounded by infrastructural inequalities and intentional institutional barriers, further exacerbating the digital divide 6.

Northern Nigeria, home to 68.67% of the country’s population, faces a critical juncture where closing the digital divide could significantly impact economic development and socio-economic growth. The journey towards bridging this gap entails a concerted effort to address both infrastructural challenges and socio-economic disparities, paving the way for a more inclusive and technologically empowered society.

Challenges Hindering Technological Advancement within Arewa

The journey toward technological advancement in Northern Nigeria is fraught with numerous obstacles, each contributing to the region’s slow pace of digital transformation.

  • Infrastructure and Economic Barriers:
    • Infrastructural Deficit: The need for more reliable electricity, poor road networks, and adequate internet connectivity form the backbone of challenges, severely limiting technological growth.
    • High Costs and Poverty: The significant cost associated with technology, including devices and internet access, alongside prevalent poverty, particularly in rural areas, makes technology inaccessible to many.
    • Investment and Infrastructure: A substantial investment in infrastructure is crucial, yet economic constraints and regulatory barriers restrict technological development and adoption.
  • Societal and Educational Challenges:
    • Digital Skills Gap: A widespread lack of digital literacy among the population and workforce stifles innovation and technology use.
    • Educational Limitations: Limited access to education and training hinders the ability of individuals to utilise available technologies effectively.
    • Insecurity and Tech Illiteracy: Insecurity disrupts educational institutions and discourages investment, perpetuating a cycle of tech illiteracy.
  • Political and Cultural Factors:
    • Government Support: The absence of supportive government policies and initiatives in the past has contributed significantly to the digital divide.
    • Cultural Resistance: Social and cultural resistance to adopting new technologies slows their integration and acceptance.
    • Security and Trust Issues: Technology companies’ concerns over security and the safe handling of sensitive consumer data further impede technological progress.

Government and Institutional Efforts to Bridge the Gap

In addressing the technological divide, the Nigerian government and various institutions have initiated several impactful programs:

  • Investment and Infrastructure Initiatives:
    • Launch of the Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises (i-DICE) program with a $600 million budget in collaboration with global banks to foster tech entrepreneurship among youths.
    • Niger State’s partnership with various organisations aiming to train over 10,000 people, including women and girls, in tech fields, enhancing gender inclusivity in technology.
    • The Federal Government’s broadband penetration target for 774 LGAs signifies a strategic move towards improving internet accessibility and digital literacy.
  • Capacity Building and Digital Literacy:
    • NITDA and NCC’s efforts in promoting digital literacy, with NITDA focusing on ICT and entrepreneurship training for women in several states and providing essential tools like laptops and also the launch of the 3MTT programme.
    • The Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy has benefited over 219,000 Nigerians through various ICT skills capacity-building programs
  • Community and Legislative Support:
    • The Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) has been pivotal in empowering citizens through ICT, launching initiatives like the Digital Livelihood program and the Community Networks Project to address communication needs at the community level.
    • Legislative efforts by the House Committee on ICT with a draft bill on community networks highlight the government’s commitment to enhancing digital inclusivity through policy.

Strategies for Accelerating Tech Adoption in the North

A multifaceted approach is essential to fostering accelerating technology adoption in Northern Nigeria. Key strategies include:

  1. Enhancing Accessibility and Affordability:
    1. Implement subsidies and affordable technology solutions for low-income individuals and businesses, making technology more accessible and fostering digital inclusion.
  2. Promoting Agricultural Innovation:
    1. Drive productivity and sustainability by encouraging the adoption of agricultural technology, which is crucial for smallholder farmers’ empowerment.
    1. Increase investment in agricultural research and development to spur innovation.
    1. Build capacity among farmers, extension agents, and stakeholders to ensure effective technology adoption.
    1. Establish collaboration between public and private sectors to quicken the pace of agricultural innovation.
    1. Create knowledge and information-sharing platforms to disseminate best practices for agricultural innovation.
    1. Offer financial incentives, tax breaks, grants, and subsidies to motivate farmers and agribusinesses towards innovative technologies.
  3. Leveraging Education and Training:
    1. Overhaul the educational curriculum to integrate technology usage and creation, preparing the next generation for a tech-driven future.
    1. Make training engaging and fun to enhance learning outcomes and technology adoption.
    1. Develop a comprehensive roll-out plan for new technologies, simplifying stakeholder change management.

Strategies for Sustainable Tech Revolution in the North

A strategic and inclusive approach is essential for a sustainable technological revolution in Northern Nigeria. This involves:

  • Skills and Education:
    • Launch skills development programs and educational initiatives to build digital skills and knowledge, ensuring widespread digital literacy.
    • Develop comprehensive public policy focusing on science, technology, and innovation through enhanced technical education and training.
  • Innovation and Infrastructure:
    • Encourage the adoption of indigenous technology in education and the private sector to foster innovation and entrepreneurship.
    • Leverage advanced technologies in the housing sector, such as 3D-printed houses and IoT, to improve living conditions and offer affordable housing solutions.
  • Policy and Environment:
    • Improve the institutional environment to encourage innovation, addressing economic, political, socio-cultural, and environmental factors.
    • Implement systems thinking to improve policy coherence and embrace diversity by including previously excluded stakeholders in policy creation.


Through exploring the unique challenges and opportunities presented in Northern Nigeria, it becomes clear that the pathway to technological advancement is fraught with hurdles yet ripe with potential. The digital divide, infrastructural deficits, and socio-cultural resistance underscore the critical areas requiring attention to harness the benefits of a digital economy. The strides made towards improving broadband penetration, fostering digital literacy, and promoting inclusivity signal a positive direction, demonstrating resilience and proactive measures to bridge the gap in technology access and utilisation within this region.

As Northern Nigeria stands on the cusp of a digital revolution, the collective efforts of government bodies, local communities, and international partnerships must be amplified and aligned towards sustainable technological growth. The imperative to drive change through enhanced accessibility, education, and infrastructural development cannot be overstated, aspiring not only to overcome existing barriers but also to propel the region towards achieving its broader development goals. The journey ahead is indeed promising, paving the way for a technologically empowered Northern Nigeria that leverages innovation for economic and societal advancement.


Q: How advanced is Nigeria in terms of technology?

A: According to the Global Competitiveness Report, Nigeria’s technological advancement is still emerging, as highlighted by its ranking of 122nd out of 140 countries in digital skills development. This is despite the emphasis on technology in the country’s National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for 2020-30.

Q: What challenges is Nigeria facing with technological advancement?

A: Nigeria encounters several hurdles in its path to technological progress. Key issues include inadequate infrastructure, especially concerning electricity and internet connectivity, which hampers the operation and growth of tech startups. Additionally, capital is scarce for technology ventures.

Q: What factors are influencing the growth of technology in Nigeria?

A: The growth of technology in Nigeria is significantly affected by a need for more necessary infrastructure and resources. The country continues to deal with poor internet connectivity and limited electricity access, which is essential for technological development.

Q: When did Nigeria start to develop technology?

A: The foundation of science and technology education in Nigeria dates back to the start of private education in 1842. Despite this early inception, technology has yet to be substantially integrated into Nigeria’s manufacturing and industrial sectors.


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