How Young Nigerians Are Gaining Financial Freedom With Tech
“Tech is the new oil,” is a phrase that is now popular in today’s conversations, and not without good reason. The world is rapidly revolving into one huge tech ecosystem, and even where levels of development vary across countries, the internet exists to (almost) bridge the gap.
In Nigeria, things are shaping up nicely too, especially among the youth. Java and Symbian phones feel like a lifetime ago, people no longer have to pay to download mp3 files, and thanks to technology, people are coming up with viable solution-driven initiatives on a regular basis.
Amidst the problems that plague Nigeria on a daily basis, young Nigerians are rising above the stumbling blocks, making a life for themselves, and thriving in spite of the hurdles placed in their way by harsh economic realities and tricky government policies. They have been given cocoa, and have created chocolate out of it.
Here are six ways through which Nigerians have harnessed technology to achieve financial freedom:
1. E-commerce: Technology has made it a lot easier to sell and buy goods and services, and Nigerians are clearly making the most of it.
Online shopping platforms like Jumia and Konga made their way into Nigeria in the early 2010s, and these days, virtually anything can be purchased online, whether it’s a gas cooker or a plate of amala.
Instagram and Twitter have become viable platforms to sell their wares, entrepreneurship has been raised to new levels, and the need for physical shops is slowly being dispensed with.
FYI: Nigeria’s e-commerce is worth over $13 billion and is estimated to reach $50 billion in about ten years!
2. Education: These days, people no longer have to walk into classrooms, or pay exorbitant fees to tutors in a physical environment, before acquiring hard and soft skills that will set them up for the job market.
Nigerian youths are making use of online learning platforms like Sim Shagaya’s uLesson, America’s Udemy and Coursera to acquire a wide range of skills, from content creation to web development and graphic design. For context, Udemy plays host to over 40 million learners, taught by 70,000 instructors across 155,000 courses. This is not to say that formal education has suddenly lost its relevance, but technology has made learning a lot easier, and the youth are better for it.
3. Media and Entertainment: With the significant expansion in technology, the process of making movies and music has been largely decentralised. Large budgets are no longer necessary to churn out films. With just a smartphone, movies are now being made.
Since 2017, Nigerians have participated actively in the African Smartphone International Film Festival. Even with the blockbusters, tech has minimised the cost of certain processes.
The independence of the creative process extends to music, too. With Twitter and Instagram, an aspiring artist can upload a video of themselves singing or rapping, with the hope of going viral and getting the attention of an entertainment bigwig. Nigerian pop singer, Ayra Starr, was discovered by Don Jazzy when he stumbled on one of her video recordings via Instagram.
4. Savings and Investment: The fact that technology is more readily available in today’s world has occasioned a shift from traditional banking services to more user-friendly mobile platforms. With low fees, flexible rates, efficient services and frequent supply of investment tips, these platforms are slowly but gradually disrupting the Nigerian finance sphere. Banking apps like ALAT by Wema Bank is an example of new-generation financial service providers that walk the talk when it comes to encouraging savings and investment.
For instance, the ‘Savings Goal’ feature on ALAT is important for young earners, whether you’re setting up a budget for six months’ worth of aso-ebi, saving for an iPhone 12 Pro, or just looking for a rewarding investment plan. And thankfully, these features are easy to use.
5. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs: Work as we know it is gradually changing. If this wasn’t already obvious, then the global lockdown occasioned by the Coronavirus helped to amplify it.
People now work remotely, job interviews, as well as work meetings, are conducted via Zoom, Google Meet, Blue Jeans, etc., and except for certain industries and jobs, physical offices are becoming less necessary by the day.
Technology has also birthed a vast array of job opportunities, and Nigeria’s youth population is quickly plugging in. As it stands, there is a high global demand for Nigerian graphic designers, software engineers and content creators. The “lazy youths” are getting scooped up by the world’s biggest organisations, right from under our noses!
In many ways, the Nigerian youth population has managed to hack technology and its nuances, with a view to achieving financial independence and ultimately, a much easier life. Nigerians have navigated the tech space and proven that they can be the best creatives, entrepreneurs, thought leaders and entertainers. The road is long, but the work is certainly being done. Accolades are in order.
Jerry Chiemeke is a finance lawyer and writer living in Lagos