Gates Foundation exec says DPI will expand Nigeria’s economic growth opportunities
Rodger Voorhies, President for Global Growth and Opportunities at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has challenged Nigeria’s federal government to invest more in fully building the connecting blocks of its digital public infrastructure (DPI) ecosystem so as to open up space for greater economic opportunities for citizens.
Voorhies was speaking recently during a meeting of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum in the capital Abuja, Nan News reports.
The executive said with digital ID, digital payments and data-sharing tools well in place, Africa’s largest economy will ensure that citizens have access to important government and private sector services in a secure and seamless manner.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is leading a global fund-raising campaign for the development of DPI.
Already, Nigeria’s efforts to establish a robust digital ID and digital payments systems are commendable, but serious work is still required to make sure these two critical pillars of DPI bear palpable results for the country, said Voorhies.
More than 100 million Nigerians already have a digital ID, but low uptake among women mostly in rural communities is said to be slow and this has a negative toll on the country’s financial inclusion push.
In October, a former boss of Nigeria’s ID-issuing agency, Aliyu Abubakar Aziz, said more funding was needed to expand the country’s digital ID coverage.
“Nigeria should make DPI a growth opportunity by connecting these systems and improving on them. A robust DPI would also enable Nigeria to deliver essential services and create economic opportunity across many sectors including finance, health, agriculture, social protection, public finance management, and more,” said Voorhies as quoted By Nan News.
The official also spoke about financial inclusion and the Gates Foundation’s work in that light in Nigeria thanks to a collaboration between the country’s central bank and other partners. He said digital financial inclusion is not only vital for inclusive growth, it has the potential to boost the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Voorhies said in a tweet that he was in Nigeria to engage in discussions with colleagues and partners to evaluate the work done by the Gates Foundation in driving progress across various domains of intervention including healthcare, agriculture, financial inclusion, digital transformation and gender equality.
The DPI discourse now has a prominent place in the global development space. Last week, an initiative dubbed the 50-in-5 advocacy campaign was launched as part of efforts led by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to support 50 countries to fully deploy at least one of the three key building blocks of DPI in a safe, inclusive and interoperable manner between now and 2028.