Lagos: Number One Technology Startup Ecosystem in Africa

At the Art of Technology (AOT) Lagos 4.0 conference themed: Talent Acceleration and A Smarter Lagos,  held at the Landmark Event Centre, Victoria Island, on December 9 -10, 2022,  Dr Obafemi Hamzat, the Deputy Governor, harped on the values that AOT has added through technology to the present administration. In his keynote address, he emphasized that Lagos State is now the number one technology startup ecosystem in Africa in terms of funds deployed.

…Between 2019 and 2021, over a 120% increase in venture capital inflow into Lagos was realised resulting in $1.5 billion in VC funding in 2021 alone. We have records of over 2000 Startups creating and contributing value across Fintech, Agritech, Construction, health and others. All of these point to an open and enabling environment for growth and proliferation of entrepreneurial activity within the technology system

He maintained that the AOT gathering ignited the Lagos State Science Research and Innovation Council (LASRIC), which consists of private and public sector professionals who fund the ecosystem. The deputy governor said that the body has funded over 60 startups for the past two years.

 In deepening Internet penetration, the state has concluded over 2,900km of optic deployments across the state thereby connecting 100 schools. They have also deployed 600 Smart Intelligent Video Surveillance Camera.

(Cross section of participants at the event)

 Mr Hakeem Fahm, Honourable Commissioner of Science andTechnology, Lagos State, in his opening remarks stated that multi-participated, important public and private stakeholders  have gathered to help Lagos State to explore policies/strategies to help the state to perform  smarter, digital, efficient and competitive over time.

He said that the gathering, both present and online, has over 30,000 participants, a far cry of 2000 participants during the first outing in 2019. “We are in my opinion at the appropriate time and place to be attending this conference. Let’s work together to speed up the sharing of ideas and adoption of effective techniques”.

“We all recognize the value of innovation, science and technology in our daily lives and how they are changing the world and how participation is equally crucial”.

“ Our experience with AOT has persuaded us that the only way we can accelerate progress and decrease inequality is through multi-stakeholder and multilateral co-operation by fastening technology as this is collaborative space for decision makers, business owners, entrepreneurs, financiers, diplomats and members of the civil societies”.

“ It is crucial to harness the youth’s energy in the appropriate ways if our state is to experience total development throughout all facets of our society, otherwise no one will be able to stop that country from suffering from sharp decline. Happy youths are undoubtedly the face of our state and nation in the future, they are full of wonderful ideas and boundless energy, so if given the correct platform, they will sure shine like the stars”. The commissioner revealed thst as talent acceleration and smarter Lagos is the state’s focus therefore “we are creating a 10-year roadmap to widening the talent acceleration pipeline to achieve talent sustainability that will deliver the smater Lagos”.

Mr Olatunbosun Alake, host, AOT and Special Adviser on Innovation and Technology, Lagos State on recounting the journey  so far said that Lagos State has diversity of talents and can be counted among the top technology ecosystems on the African Continent . He explained that AOT was devised to showcase Lagos and this has birthed one of the biggest technology exchange platforms in Nigeria. The first AOT event brought the first Lagos State Innovative and Technology Masterplan, which had a number of papers that we said if we can interview a certain initiatives in these papers that the ecosystem will be better for it. Today we are addressing one of the strategic papers of that first AOT event masterplan.

“Lagos State is one of the key economic driver for Nigeria…about 77 new residents from all over Nigeria migrate to Lagos every single day. How do you manage such an enormous population with such a static landmass? We need to acquire technology, so over the years between 2019 and 2021 Lagos State has emerged as number startup investment in Africa in terms of volumes of bills that have been paid”.

“There are many things we have been doing to encourage and to make sure the ecosystem is right for investors; and  between 20,000 and 50,000 people are employed by different startups across the innovation subsector”.  

The two-day programme has keynote sessions where Mr Tarek Sumch, Managing Director, BOTasl Limited talked about the Tech Talent Development in Africa: the Bangladesh Model and  Abubakar Suleiman, Executive Officer, Sterling Bank, enunciated on Building Resilient Talent for Digital Transformation. There were also plenary and breakout discussions on topics like Workforce Talent Strategy: Building the Public Workforce of the Future; The Future of Work: Tech, Talent & Business Transformation among other topics geared towards a smarter Lagos having a Talent Acceleration Strategy.

One of the high points of the event was the Awards for Innovation and Ideas competition organized by LASRIC where some students from public secondary schools won different prizes and was recognized by the state government.

The Art of Technology (AOT), Lagos is an annual tech conference curated by Mr Victor Gbenga Afolabi, Founder,  Eko Innovation Centre, one of the leading tech hubs in Nigeria  in collaboration with the Lagos State Government .

The conference brings together technology industry stakeholders, policymakers, enthusiasts, ecosystem players, investors, business founders and executives, venture capital firms, startups, and technology talents to create policies that will drive the development of a smarter Lagos .Creating a 10-year roadmap to widening the talent acceleration pipeline to achieve talent sustainability that will deliver the Smarter Lagos.

Till date AOT has had over 30,000 participants, 171 speakers , 16 keynotes and 10 million engagements from 111 countries worldwide.

 Written by: Oluchi Ugboaja

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