US, Nigeria complicated federal democracies – envoy

The United States of America Consul General to Nigeria, Will Stevens, has underscored the critical need for predictable regulation to accelerate the growth of Nigeria’s digital economy.

This came as the envoy said the US and Nigeria are complicated federal democracies and that “you can’t just go one oga at the top and make it so. You have to go through all the leaders at different levels, even in the United States, to get approval.”

The US envoy made this disclosure on Monday at the Lagos Business School during a fireside chat themed, “Unleashing Potential: Thriving in the Digital Age.”

Stevens pointed out that the uncertainties and lack of transparency create hesitation among businesses, preventing them from making long-term investments and strategic decisions.

While the country has made notable progress in recent years, the absence of clear and predictable regulations remains a significant obstacle to unlocking its full digital potential, the envoy stated.

“It’s about predictability and transparency in governance. This applies to all governments in any democracy, from the state and local level to the federal level.

“Companies need to know and be able to predict what the regulatory environment will be and how it’s going to impact them. When they get phone calls or things pop at the last minute, it makes them question their future investments.”

According to Stevens, a predictable business environment is vital for building trust and confidence among investors, and entrepreneurs.

He urged Nigerian policymakers to prioritize transparency, consistency, and predictability in their regulatory approach to create an enabling environment for digital growth.

“When we talk about trade and investment, we are always talking about business climate, predictability, and transparency so that companies can make decisions and invest. In the digital space, they move faster and break things.

“They still need to be able to understand what things are likely to look like in three or five years so they can make large-scale investments. Even with the undersea cables, it took a bit of head-cracking to get the last-mile approvals done from the authorities.”

Further, he mentioned that the US and Nigeria have federal systems where bureaucratic structures can slow decision-making processes.

“Let’s be very honest; the US and Nigeria are complicated federal democracies. You can’t just go one ‘oga at the top’ and make it so. You have to go through all the leaders at different levels, even in the United States, to get approval. That’s complicated, but it’s one of the things about living in a vibrant, challenging democracy,” Stevens explained.

Nigeria’s digital economy is a focal point for growth and development, aiming to leverage digital data and technologies to create economic opportunities, and jobs, and transform lives.

The country’s initiatives focus on digital infrastructure, skills, financial services, entrepreneurship, and policy improvements to fully unleash its digital potential.

Meanwhile, Google and Meta submarine cables in Nigeria are poised to enhance Internet connectivity and boost the country’s digital infrastructure.

Google’s Equiano undersea cable landed in April 2022, spanning 12,000km, while Meta, has deployed two submarine cables with landings in Lagos and Akwa Ibom.

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