Tax holiday needed to drive ICT sector in Nigeria – Zinox boss
The chairman of Zinox Group, Leo Stan Ekeh, has advised the federal government to consider granting exceptional tax concessions to the technology sector.
Explaining more while receiving the Extraordinary Business Achievement Award at the recent Silverbird Man of the Year Awards held at Eko Hotel & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, Ekeh said that globally, technology has become the driving force behind the fortunes of many nations.
While commending the government and its agencies, especially the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) for improving the tax revenue base of the country, Ekeh pleaded with the Federal Government to encourage a new and prosperous economy by granting entrepreneurs in the ICT sector a decent tax-free period of at least ten years – an incentive that will see Nigeria prosper immensely in the technology front.
According to him, “If this is granted, this country will experience, within the next five years, an army of tech billionaires whose one year tax payments shall significantly be more than our present ten years’ collections. We must see the bigger picture and prepare for tomorrow instead of frustrating people at incubation period. IT companies in today’s Nigeria are the poorest corporates and slowly disappearing – a situation which I find very unfortunate. “I plead with the Federal Government to grant tax concessions to the technology sector. Tech guys have the potential to create sustainable wealth and transform this country for good. I challenge the people in government, including the few present here such as the Deputy Senate President, distinguished senators and several Governors.”
He argued that such concession will among other things, encourage the development and empowerment of the huge youthful potential in Nigeria to drive the emerging knowledge economy.
He said such concession will effective boost investors in developing the needed infrastructure that will effectively allow Nigeria to join the league of economies currently powered by technology than the current scenario where the country is struggling to survive on resource based economy.
According to him, “In spite of the great and sincere efforts of the present administration, the Nigerian economy is also fatigued as a result of its predominantly analogue nature, saying “millions of Nigerian youths nurse big dreams and have the capacity to thrive in a new and futuristic economy that is technology-driven, but urgently need government support in terms of structured capital and tax concession during their incubation period”.
He argued that “these young men and women have globally certified education and need the right environment to exhibit their capacity”, noting that if the country cannot provide it, the situation will create unfortunate ones who would resort to scientific robbery, kidnapping and many other vices. He also warned that the nation may not experience all-inclusive peace until we provide for these brilliant kids.
Ekeh made it clear that “Technology is the only profession in the world today that can make the son of the poorest man the richest man in the world. Though still struggling, I am a practical testimony of the possibilities in the sector, having led several technology teams that deployed in Iraq, Libya, Guinea Bissau, etc. However, I am still Nigeria-based. It is not just its lifestyle nature but technology is the only profession in world today in which you can experience miracle wealth. Our kids have read, seen and worked in tech companies or tech-driven companies in the world that became multi-billion dollar companies within five years and they are smarter than many of these foreign entrepreneurs but their only sin is that they are Nigerians and living in Nigeria.
“I have experienced this frustration for over 30 years and it is too late for me to complain. These kids are 21st Century youths and the majority of them is not interested in agriculture and will never be forced to adopt it because of its unstructured nature. Youths today are faith-driven and can anticipate the future better than their parents and leaders. My research shows that over 85% of them would rather prefer to make money only from tech-driven platforms which certifies them as global citizens or do nothing.”
“If the Federal Government of Nigeria can invest 20% of what she has invested in the Agricultural sector in the Tech sector, over 75% of present unemployed youths would become employed or self-employed in a profession that has a future. I am not against investment in the Agricultural sector, but it is a sector of extreme passion today due to its present analogue nature. Continuing, Ekeh averred that “Our leaders should ask their children who trained in quality institutions if any of them would want to do farming, for example. I’m sure the answer you will get is 100% NO. So, who do you expect his child to go into farming? Farming is good, but it is a profession of passion. You can’t force a young man or woman to farm”.