Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, had meetings at Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (Space X) headquarters in Hawthorne, California, as well as a meeting at the World Bank Headquarters and another meeting with Google Corporation in a bid to strengthen partnerships for the development of Nigeria’s digital economy.
The meetings with the World Bank and Google were held on the sidelines of the US-Africa Leaders’ Forum (USALF), which took place in Washington DC, United States of America, while the visit to Space X was a follow up to the events at the USALF.
Pantami was received at Space X by Samuel (Chad) Gibbs IV, the Vice President of Business Operations, on behalf of Elon Musk, Founder and CEO of Space X.
At the visit, both parties discussed how Space X can expand its presence in Nigeria, following their entry into the Nigerian market through the Starlink broadband service.
The minister also asked the Space X team to consider sourcing some of its engineers from Nigeria’s digital talent pool.
During the visit, Pantami inister and his team were given a personalised tour of the SpaceX Rocket Manufacturing Facility, Starlink Assembly Line, and Product Development Facility. He also witnessed the live Space X rocket launch of 2 telecom satellites into orbit.
On the invitation of the World Bank Group, the minister had a meeting with top officials of the Bank, including Vyjayanti Desai, the Practice Manager for the World Bank’s Identification for Development (ID4D) and Digitizing Government to Person Payments (G2Px) Programs. Also at the meeting were Franz Drees-Gross, Director of Infrastructure, World Bank West African Region and Michel Rogy, World Bank’s Digital Development Practice Manager for Africa and the Middle East.
The World Bank team commended the minister for his great leadership, which has led to significant development in Nigeria’s digital economy sector. The meeting also discussed how the Bank can further partner with Nigeria to strengthen the digital economy ecosystem in areas such as infrastructure, skilling, cybersecurity, and digital identity.
Pantami also had a meeting with Karan Bhatia, Vice-President, Government Affairs, and Public Policy at Google. Mr. Bhatia was full of praise for the minister for the significant progress that has been made in the digital transformation of the Nigerian economy.
He also commended Pantami for Nigeria Startup Act, noting the potential of the legislation to serve as a catalyst for rapid development of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Nigeria and other parts of Africa.
The Google Vice-President discussed the company’s growing focus on Africa and looks forward to expanding partnerships with Nigeria in areas such as skilling, cybersecurity, and cloud computing, among others.