Many trends are pointing in the right direction. The country is slowly diversifying away from Oil & Gas and the financial services sector. Remittances from the diaspora continue their steady increase. [http://www.tribune.com.ng/business/tribune-business/item/15469-remittances-from-diaspora-nigerians-as-lubricant-for-the-economy/15469-remittances-from-diaspora-nigerians-as-lubricant-for-the-economy] The middle class continues to grow, and will soon eclipse the total population of the traditionally attractive investments opportunities on the continent: Kenya and South Africa.[http://www.forbes.com/sites/riskmap/2013/11/18/nigeria-growing-away-from-oil/]
Challenges remain, however. Foreign Direct Investment has been declining. [http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/BX.KLT.DINV.WD.GD.ZS] Political instability and occasionally violence scare many away. China, while flooding the market with cheap goods, also recently eclipsed western nations as the largest trading and infrastructure partner. [http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Chinas-Biggest-Foreign-Investment-Inked-in-Nigeria-20141121-0041.html]
These are well-known issues, but they are not the core of problems retarding the development of Nigeria's innovation economy. Entrepreneurs, investors, and other stakeholders are suffering in other ways.
Addressing the systemic challenges won't be easy, but it is doable. There are four specific areas that must be tackled before innovation takes off.
Over time, these changes will lead to increased attention from investors in Europe, the United States, and elsewhere. They are already attracted to Africa's largest market – it's just a question of time before the conditions are right for money to flow into Nigeria's best young companies.
William Treseder has over a decade of experience in entrepreneurial training, program management, and design. He is a partner at BMNT Partners, a consultancy specializing in technology commercialization. William co-founded the Silicon Valley Innovation Academy, an immersive training program for international entrepreneurs, and previously worked at Singularity University.