Despite labour shortages, more than 50% of businesses in Nigeria plan local expansion – survey

Ganiu Oloruntade
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Over half of businesses in Nigeria are planning to expand locally despite supply chain, cyber-security, and recruitment challenges, according to a recent survey commissioned by Equinix, Inc., the world’s digital infrastructure company.

Recall in April this year, Equinix expanded into Africa through the US$320m acquisition of MainOne, a leading West African data centre and connectivity solutions provider, with a presence in Nigeria, Ghana, and Côte d’Ivoire.

According to a statement shared with Technext on Wednesday, no fewer than 100 business leaders in Nigeria were interviewed about the opportunities and challenges their organizations are facing – and their plans for the future, as part of the Equinix 2022 Global Tech Trends Survey,

The independent study — conducted online between March 1, and March 29 — surveyed 2,900 IT decision-makers in diverse enterprises across Nigeria, South Africa, the Americas (Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Mexico, U.S.), Asia-Pacific (Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Singapore, South Korea), and EME (Bulgaria, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, UAE, UK).

Read also: Equinix expands to Africa, closes US$320 million acquisition of MainOne.

Key highlights of the survey in Nigeria

The survey in Nigeria revealed that 54% of respondents are planning on expanding in an existing country in the next 12 months, 34% into a new region, and 33% into a new country.  And that 93% of IT leaders in Nigeria said enhancing customer experience is a priority.

However, a number of potentially limiting factors were identified by businesses in Nigeria when it came to global growth including concerns and challenges in the supply chain, cyber-security, staff retention and recruitment.

Supply chain. Image Source: BusinessDay.

55% said their business was plagued by global supply chain issues and shortages, while 50% specified the global microchip shortage as a threat to their business.

As part of their digital-first strategies, 85% of respondents in Nigeria confirmed a key priority is improving cybersecurity. 88% said complying with local market data regulations is critical, while 85% highlighted the need to future-proof their businesses.

According to IT specialists in Nigeria, the most feared threats were cyberattacks (73%), security breaches, and data leaks (68%).

Related article: Why Digital Immune System is important to the future of technology.

Brain drain remains a challenge

Despite having one of the youngest populations and workforces in the world, 58% of IT decision-makers in Nigeria who participated in the survey view a shortage of personnel with IT skills as one of the main threats to their business.

This is hardly a surprise, considering the brain drain—the movement of skilled workers out of a country—that has rocked Nigeria in recent times, the “japa” syndrome.

Add these 4 countries to your 'japa' list as a Tech Bro in Nigeria
Japa syndrome.

The survey also showed that among the most common concerns for businesses in Nigeria are candidates with the wrong skill sets applying for jobs (56%), pay and compensation (49%), changing expectations around ways of working (41%), and the retention of current talent (38%).

Additionally, In Nigeria, the most in-demand tech employees are those with skills in areas such as AI/machine learning, data analysis, cloud computing specialists, data protection, security software development, IT technicians, and security analysis.

Growing businesses and expansion plans

On tools to grow their businesses, 77% of IT leaders in Nigeria said they plan to move more business functions to the cloud including business-critical applications and security functions. While 36% of respondents revealed that the hybrid cloud models were their preferred approach, 18% still rely on a single cloud provider, and 2% do not use the cloud at all.

On the other hand, 40% in Nigeria said they plan to facilitate global expansion plans by deploying virtually via the cloud, with over a quarter (26%) – 21% among IT decision-makers in Nigeria – doing so using a bare metal solution.

Meanwhile, 47% globally (46% in Nigeria) said they expect increased spending on carrier-neutral colocation solutions to facilitate the planned rise in digital deployments, while even more (59% at the global level, 70% in Nigeria) said they intend to increase investment in interconnection services as they plan to progress digital transformation and build resilience.

COVID as a booster for digital evolution

Per the survey, the pandemic also continues to have a significant impact on businesses’ digital strategies. More than half of IT leaders in Nigeria (64%) say they are accelerating their company’s digital evolution because of the COVID-19 crisis.

Over half (64%) confirm their IT budgets have increased as a direct outcome of its legacy—an insight into the now broadly acknowledged necessity for robust digital infrastructure to pivot to evolving business needs in an instant. Furthermore, almost three-quarters of respondents (73%) believe the technology changes and investments implemented during the pandemic are here to stay.

Commenting on this, Funke Opeke, Managing Director, MainOne, An Equinix Company said the acceleration in digital transformation in Nigeria reinforces the need for businesses to have access to single points to interconnect locally

Funke Opeke, MainOne CEO.

Increased speed of connectivity, increased flexibility of connectivity, and reduced cost of connectivity were identified by IT decision-makers in Nigeria as the most beneficial aspects of interconnection. MainOne provides a rich interconnection ecosystem that allows customers connect to each other multiple telecoms networks, and Cloud, Payment and Content Providers in a single location,” she said.

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