The Nigerian Economic Growth and Recovery Plan (EGRP) and Women in the Nigerian Tech Sector
Updated: Sep 27, 2021
The Nigerian Government recognized the economic challenges that Nigeria faces and the need for urgent action and developed a road map to address the identified economic challenges and avert the progressing economic decline. The Nigerian Economic Growth and Recovery Plan (EGRP) is a short-term plan for sustained growth and development. It is a strategy tool created as both a recovery and a growth plan for 2017-2020. This plan addresses various sectors and advances various strategies to achieve specific set goals. It was formulated to serve as a pointer to the type of Nigeria that the people desire in the short to medium-term, and extensively leverages science, technology, and innovation to drive growth.
At 53 per cent of GDP (2015), the EGRP identified services as the biggest contributor to the economy, growing at an average of 5.8 per cent per year in 2010-2015, and the telecommunications and ICT sector as a key contributor. A vibrant telecommunications and ICT sector is required to drive and expand national production frontiers across all sectors of the economy. Certain constraints to the effective growth and development of the sector were identified. They include the: disjointed and inadequate policies; the absence of legal and regulatory frameworks; weak PPP frameworks that discourage private-sector participation; weak institutional frameworks that prevent synergy among existing ICT-based infrastructures; and poor ICT infrastructure and info-structure.
Information and communication technologies cover a wide range and have delivered enormous benefits globally and in Nigeria. However much of the potential of ICT remains untapped, particularly for groups facing severe time constraints or lacking access to knowledge and productive resources. Women in developing countries face both financial and non-financial barriers to access ICT resources and the sector. These inequalities limit women’s abilities, opportunities, and achievements. In today’s knowledge-driven global economy, information and communication technology offers enormous potential for alleviating poverty and promoting sustainable development. Engendering ICT policies involves identifying and eliminating gender disparities in access to and use of such technology. It also involves adapting technology to women’s needs by taking advantage of their special knowledge and strong informal networks and support systems.
It is often assumed that economic growth automatically reduces or serves to reduce gender inequality, but evidence shows that faster growth in itself will not achieve this. Macroeconomic policies typically do not take into account economic and social rights, distributive outcomes or gender equality. These policies largely focus on a narrow set of goals, such as raising economic growth rates, etc. They can in fact fester and deepen gender inequality because economic policy choices affect women and men differently due to their different positions in the economy, both market (paid) and non-market (unpaid). A failure of macroeconomic policies to reflect gender realities, can affect the creation of an enabling environment for the realization of women’s rights. Research indicates that engendered ICT policies will go a long way in reducing inequalities between the sexes and also between Africa and the rest of the world.
The identified constraints of the ICT sector in the and the growth strategies, do not reflect the gender realities and the barriers faced by women within the sector. It is very narrow and focuses on surrounding aspects of fostering economic growth through the ICT sector but does not include the existing gender realities. In 2019, a study was conducted by One Africa on the Nigerian Tech Sector. Research findings showed that participation of women in the Nigerian tech sector is low. There is a very low percentage of female ownership, and women-owned businesses are mostly concentrated in e-commerce and enterprise solutions. Additionally, the report revealed that there are few women employed in tech firms and a large percentage of firms reported not employing no women at all. Male dominance in the tech sector is also revealed by the very small number of female top managers. It is estimated that women make up approximately 20 percent of the tech industry in Nigeria (Women's Technology Empowerment Centre, 2019).
Both financial and non-financial barriers to the sustainable growth and development of the tech sector exist, however, research shows that women face larger constraints. Women within the tech industry face more difficulty obtaining finances than men, as they face discrimination within the financial markets. Lenders are even more reluctant to transact with females, and investors tend to relate better with men (Ramachandran & Masood, 2019). The struggles and unequal treatment discourage women from participating in the tech industry, setting up ventures and occupying more managerial roles because of the atmosphere and the evident barriers women face.
The EGRP, in its education strategy, rightly identified the need for increased STEM education within the sector, and the prioritization of girl education. This strategy for growth was formulated based on the recognition that the tech sector plays a significant role due to the heavy reliance on technology globally, and is relevant for the economic growth and development of a nation due to the potential for creating and implementing high impact solutions and the opportunity for discoveries and job creation. Addressing the problem of equipping and educating more girls in STEM, will serve to be counterproductive, if there are no strategies to address the barriers and constraints faced by women within the tech ecosystem. Engendering the Economic Growth and Recovery Strategy’s approach to the tech sector, can help with the increased representation of women, support job creation and better inclusion in tech focused service delivery and strategies.
 Economic Growth and Recovery Plan  The World Bank, (2004) “Engendering Information & Communication Technologies: Challenges & Opportunities for Gender-Equitable Development.” https://digitalregulation.org/wp-content/uploads/Engendering-Information-and-Communication-Technologies-Challenges-and-Opportunities-for-Gender-Equitable-Development.pdf  UN Women, (2015), “Policy Brief: Why Macroeconomic Policy Matters for Gender Equality.” https://www.unwomen.org/-/media/headquarters/attachments/sections/library/publications/2015/unwomen-policybrief04-macroeconomicpolicymattersforgenderequality-en.pdf?la=en&vs=349  Patience Zirima, (2007) “Engendering ICT Policies: Practices from Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe.” https://www.jstor.org/stable/27739245  ONE-CGD, (2019). The New Economy of Africa: Opportunities for Nigeria's Emerging Technology Sector. Center for Global Development.  ONE-CGD. (2019). The New Economy of Africa: Opportunities for Nigeria's Emerging Technology Sector. Center for Global Development.