​Lagos Leads In Technology Startup Ecosystem In Africa, Says Sanwo-Olu

Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu

By Frank Oshanugor

Lagos State Governor , Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has described the state as the number one technology startup ecosystem in Africa in terms of funds deployed.

Speaking at the Fourth Edition of The Art of Technology (AOT), Lagos 4.O with the theme: Talent Acceleration and Smarter Lagos” held on Thursday at Landmark Event Centre, Victoria Island, the Governor said the state has become the number one ecosystem in terms of performance and sheer number of startups creating value.

According to him, between 2019 and 2021, over 120% increase in Venture Capital inflow into Lagos was realized resulting in 1.5 billion dollars in VC funding in 2021 alone.

The Governor, who was represented by Deputy Governor of the State, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat,
Said, “We have records of over 2000 Startups creating and contributing value across Fintech, Agritech, Construction, Health and so on. All of these points to an open and enabling environment for the growth and proliferation of entrepreneurial activity within the technology ecosystem. As was witnessed during the telecommunication boom of the early 2000s, Lagos has provided the central core of business and technological development in Nigeria for decades.

“Most major
environment and the open support for technology informed this administration’s increasing focus in innovation in a bid to drive value outputs for this ecosystem.

” Our Smart City implementation has seen us deploy over 600 Smart Intelligent Video Surveillance Cameras as well as Intelligent Transportation Cameras for Traffic monitoring and management. Over the past year, through our initial ITS pilot deployment leveraging our Automatic number plate recognition cameras, monitoring of violation infractions has reduced VIO in person enforcement by 30%. Basically, in person enforcement that usually leads to issues with officers has reduced. This implementation continues.

“We have begun a significant identity management programme through our Lagos State Residents Registration Agency that will seek to identify all our inhabitants. Current projections state that Lagos will have 30million inhabitants by 2035. It is imperative to drive the identity management ecosystem for a smarter city. This will lend to more efficient resource allocation and planning for the state. LASSRA has undergone a fundamental restructuring of its operational model. With a new digital identification card with capabilities that enable access to benefits, electronic ticketing and so on, it further drives the digital inclusion benchmark for Lagos. Currently about 6.5 million residents have been captured. We are targeting another 10million within the next.

“We are deeply grateful for your participation and commitment to partner with us in having the relevant conversations, co-creating the strategies that will ultimately create value through technology in Lagos. In preceding AOT events, we have been able to foster value creating contributions that have enabled a deeper and better collaborative relationship with the ecosystem. With 25,000 online and offline attendee registrations this year, your participation has enabled this event to be one of the largest in Nigeria.

“The continuing success of this gathering is a testament to the platform it provides to both public and private sector stakeholders to co-create and drive value in this ecosystem.We are particularly enthused to see the growth this ecosystem has experienced over the years. According to Startup Genome.

“This administration’s contribution is evidenced in the different implementations and initiatives contained in Lagos States’ first Innovation and Technology Masterplan; a plan that was launched during the first edition of this AOT event showcase. The masterplan contains multiple strategic pillars which cascade in multiple tactical initiatives.
Since the first AOT gathering, we have ignited the Lagos State Science Research and Innovation Council, a body consisting of private and public sector professionals tasked with intervening directly in the ecosystem through funding. The result to date has seen over 60 startups receive funding of between 5,000 and 12,000 dollars in the past two years. This funding constituted some of the initial runway rounds for startups that have gone to raise millions of dollars in funding. LASRIC gave many of these startups their initial funding opportunities.

“In deepening internet penetration, we have concluded over 2,900km of optic fibre deployment across the state. This has connected about 100 schools. We have partnered with some telcos that are using our installed fibre optic ducts to power their 5G based stations. As you well know MTN launched its 5G service this year. The ducts we have installed has further enabled significant de-risking of this telco infrastructure market.

“In the past one year, Lagos has attracted over 1 billion dollars in Data centre investment. This will enable the local domicile of digital platforms as well as open our State for more digital technology opportunities. The proliferation of these investments also presents opportunities for talent development within this ecosystem
“In education, through the Eko Excel Project, we are digitizing the learning experience for both teachers and students. Through the introduction of smart devices and experiences. The EkoExcel projects seeks to raise learning outcomes in students by multiple percentage points. Currently the Ministry of Education is running new Comprehensive School Curriculum in about 100 schools. The Curriculum contains new subjects such as digital courses in coding and robotics, This is with the aim to drive more industry standard learning experiences from a younger age.

“Through our Lagos State Employment Trust fund, we have funded the digital skills training interventions for more than 4000 beneficiaries. Courses include digital marketing, coding and other innovation courses. These digital skills training are needed capacity interventions that lend positively to the development of the ecosystem.
On his own, Managing director, BDTask Limited, who came all the way from Bangladesh, Mr. Sumch Tarek, agreed that Nigeria has millions of talent, saying that the Eko Innovation Centre under the able leadership of Mr. Victor Gbenga Afolabi, was doing wonderfully well.
According to Tarek, Bangladesh started like Lagos and bloosomed in few years time,” with what I have seen in Lagos, there is hope for the millions of talented Nigerians. I have really seen seriousness in the part of Lagos State Government in talent hunt. There is hope for Nigerian youths .
However, Special Adviser on Innovation and Technology , Mr. Olatunbosun Alake, took time to explain the gains of technology, saying that many beneficiaries, who gained from the gesture had left the country, but was of the opinion that people should extray the pros and cons of leaving the country,” for instance, we are exporting talents to other countries and the countries hiring our talent will benefit from them, while our country will also benefit from the Nigerian professionals in the diaspora. Our talents will be paid and they will repatriate the money back to Nigeria. Let’s not think of only running away from our country, but reason that they are also advertising that we have talents in Nigeria and bringing back money to Nigeria”.

Earlier, in his welcome address the founder of Eko Innovation Centre, Mr. Victor Afolabi, said the organization wants to bridge the gap between the tech able system players and policy makers, and the only way to have policy that benefits our people. The discussion at the event by the experts, was about talents. The UNDP resident president said talents is scarce as commodities itself. The programme of the Lagos State Government went down the pyramid only show the intention to grow the talents.

“The Policy is to get them when they are still young and to be able to fill the pipe of talents, and right skill of talents that tap into the technology revolution. Also, the Chief Executive Officer of Sterling Bank talked about those employed, that they were about fifty percent. “The other fifty percent can be beneficial to government and not liability to themselves and we would begin to empower them, even those who graduated from the universities, we need to expose them to the tech ecosystem and equip them , while that of government is to provide them the skills.

“This is the largest technology conference in Nigeria, Art of Technology (AOT) , bringing together important public and commercial sector stakeholders to explore policies and strategies that will help Lagos become smarter, digital, efficient, and competitive over time.

“Today, we anticipate having more than 30,000 participants, up from our initial starting point of 2000+ in 2019. We are, in my opinion, at the appropriate moment 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. Our participation in this massive effort is equally crucial.

“Our experience with AOT has persuaded us that the only way we can actually accelerate progress and decrease inequality is through multi-stakeholder and multi-lateral cooperation by tasking technology. It is a collaborative space for decision-makers, business owners, entrepreneurs, financiers, diplomats, and members of civil society.

It is crucial to harness the youth’s energy in the appropriate way if our State is to experience total development throughout all facets of society; otherwise, no one will be able to stop that country from suffering a sharp decline. Our youths are undoubtedly the face of our state and nation in the future. They are full of wonderful ideas and boundless energy, so if you give them the correct platform and plenty of possibilities, they are sure to shine like a star.
“I firmly believe that working together is essential right now, and that mobilizing our youths behind a shared goal may accomplish wonders. My earnest hope is that, as a result of our tireless efforts, this conference will assist our youths in making firm decisions about how they might get closer to achieving their objectives.

Meanwhile, the Commissioner for Science and Technology, Mr. Hakeem Fahm, also stated that for the state to experience total development throughout all facets of society, it is crucial to harness the youth’s energy in the appropriate way.

He added that Lagos youths were undoubtedly the face of the state and nation in the future, adding that they were full of wonderful ideas and boundless energy, that if given the correct platform and plenty of opportunities, they are sure of shining like a star.
The Commissioner, however, stated that the state government would hence focus on Talent acceleration and a Smarter Lagos, noting that the government is creating a 10-year roadmap to widening the talent acceleration pipeline to achieve talent sustainability that will deliver a smarter Lagos.
However, some students were rewarded for emerging winners of the Innovation and Ideas Competition.

Written by: Frank Oshanugor

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