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Monday, April 24, 2017

Technology Start Ups in Nigeria: how, why and where?

      Now a day, when the term Start ups is mentioned the first thing that come to mind is Silicon valley in the United States which as technology hub come to being sometime in early 1970s. The name Silicon itself originated from the silicon transistor which serve as the building block of transistors use in making computers. It started with two to three companies and decades later it becomes what it is today, the world largest technology hub. In this set up is found a unique combination of technological know how and business acumen, with seed capital provided by venture capital firms. Today celebrated internet celebrities such Mark Zukerberg, Sergey Brim, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and numerous other less well known started as computer/internet enthusiast who possessed good ideas without the needed capital and entrepreneurship skills to transform them into money. It was the venture capital firms that came to their aids by providing capital and entrepreneurship skills needed to create today giants such as Facebook, Apple, Google, Yahoo, Amazon, LinkedIn, Twitter, Cisco Systems, Hewlett Packard, Adobe, Intel to mention just a few. Today, Silicon valley has the highest concentration of millionaires and billionaires per head in the United States itself. This phenomenon of establishing Start Ups is fast spreading around the world. In a very recent global innovation ranking released by World Economic Forum, smaller countries like Switzerland, Israel, and Finland were put ahead of US which came fourth in how fast countries are innovating. This show how countries around the world are competing to stay ahead in term of technological innovation.

   Nigeria need it own Silicon valley with its combination of young technology geniuses and venture capitalists. Internet giants such as Facebook, Google and Transport companies like Uber have realized the potentials of Nigeria in this field and are working hard to get there first. The recent visit to Nigeria by Mr Zuckerberg is a clear signal of the potentials Nigeria has in this direction taken into consideration the abundant talents and huge population we have. Up till now Nigerian government does not have a clear blueprint on how to make Nigeria the technology hub of Africa. At the level of state governments, what are they doing to develop this sector? Virtually nothing, with the exception of Lagos where the concentration of various kind of businesses and talents led to the start of one to two start ups here and there, there is not much to show. It take combination of academia, businessmen and government to produce something akin to Silicon valley in Nigeria. Ideal places for such combinations in Nigeria will include Lagos, Ibadan, Abuja, Kano, Kaduna, Enugu and Portharcourt. Many countries around the world have established their own Silicon valley like hubs, India, China, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, Brazil to mention just a few.Young Nigerian entrepreneurs such as Oscar Ekponimo base in Abuja uses technology to bring wasted food to the hungry through his new software application Chowberry. People like Oscar Ekponimo are not few in number in Nigeria, there are hundred others waiting to be discovered. Nigeria shall learn from the example of Israel where government provides part of the money invested by venture capital firms in new start ups. In Pakistan young technology enthusiast are provided with free working tools, office location, and internet access to start developing there talents.