Following CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg’s visit, to Lagos, Nigeria; there has been an increased interest in the country’s technology sector especially in Yaba, Lagos.
Home to an emerging technology ecosystem in Nigeria, Yaba now boasts a relatively high concentration of tech companies, start-ups, incubators and accelerators.
This has morphed into an organically grown cluster, that now accommodates over 60 start-ups and tech companies including Hotels.ng, Afrika’s Talking, PagaTech and incubator/accelerator programs, such as Co-Creation Hub (CcHub), Passion Incubator, and more recently NG_HUB (Facebook), Blue Lab (Stanbic IBTC) and Digital Lab (First Bank).
As a result, the Lagos State Government (LASG) has announced the commencement of the Yaba ICT Cluster project, KITE@Yaba (KITE stands for “Knowledge, Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship”) to provide an enabling environment that will facilitate and support the development of a technology cluster and ecosystem within the Yaba District of Lagos. The project also includes the design and construction of a world class ICT Park for which LASG has already acquired 30,000 square metres of land in the Yaba area.
The project will proffer recommendations to the Lagos State Government on 8 critical areas to foster an enabling environment for innovation and entrepreneurship in information and communication technology namely Access to Funding; Access to Market & Demand; Infrastructure; Policy Regulation & Governance; Talent, Skills & Education; Research & Development; Network & Collaboration; and Advocacy & Marketing.
According to the Honourable Commissioner for Science and Technology, Mr Hakeem Fahm, the initiative is based on a public-private partnership (PPP), driven by the government and supported by several industry experts and advisors along the technology value chain.
The Yaba cluster is also home to about three tertiary institutions (University of Lagos, Yaba College of Technology and the Federal Science and Technical College), several secondary schools, and connected to major road networks in Lagos, thus making Yaba an attractive place for a hub.
According to research, industrial clusters have been empirically proven to create jobs, nurture high growth companies and improve economic development (for example, the UK’s Cambridge cluster consists of over 1500 tech and biotech companies and employs over 57,000 people generating over £13billion annually. Currently 38% of European jobs are concentrated around clusters).
It is expected that this initiative will contribute significantly to the economic development of Nigeria and position Lagos State as the hub for innovation in Nigeria, and preferred destination for technology investors and innovators.
So is Yaba Nigeria’s Silicon Valley?