Nigeria – pronounced to be in its worst recession in 29 years on the 30th of August 2016, received a surprise visit from iconic innovator; Mark Zuckerberg on the same day. Whilst the visit broke all known protocols, it was an instructive coincidence that elevated the energy and creativity of young Nigerians as a valuable opportunity to harness.
The energy and creativity associated with Nigeria are characteristics touted by local players to eventually propel the country to become a leading light within the global technology space. Despite the obvious lack of a coherent innovation system/policy, a handful of industry leaders have been consistently betting on a renewed role for the industry in the development of the nation. The investment in our work at Co-Creation Hub by Omidyar Network, MainOne Cable Company, Sainsbury Family Trust, Google and support by Lagos State Government amongst others; all account for the tremendous contribution we have made in building a vibrant local ecosystem.
Nigeria is notorious for her poor rating on the ‘ease of doing business’ ranking and a stifling regulatory environment for investment. Yet the entrepreneurial spirit of Nigerians and its sheer market size have seen it re-engineer and grow a few competitive industries in the last decade; notably entertainment (music and Nollywood) and now technology. Our entertainment sector not only serves local demand but has also attracted regional and global audiences and consumers. This, without doubt, is a trajectory the technology industry is already taking.
Mark’s visit, at the least, is a much-needed recognition and a sign that the nation is on a path to becoming a contributor to technology advancement. The visit is a signal of the readiness of Nigerian tech start-ups to absorb further investments and resources. Heading straight to Yaba (Africa’s fastest growing tech cluster) within minutes of arriving on the continent took the world by surprise and will inspire a lot more interest from both local and foreign backers.
Without gainsaying, a strong innovation system and long-term outlook are crucial determinants of a nation’s ability to create superior value with technology. However, advancements in technology provide us the opportunity to create products that connect our teeming population to vital services and public infrastructure. To harness this rare opportunity, the private sector, backed by the government, must be strategic about our focus on technology innovation and entrepreneurship. At a time when the country is sliding into recession, this visit should act as further evidence that greater support for and investment in the emerging tech sector could be a valuable contribution to economic recovery and future development.
However, there are three major challenges that we need to overcome:
Focus on education and talent development – there is an urgent need for us to invest in technical know-how to back our creativity and help harness this unprecedented opportunity. Building value with technology requires technical capability which we currently lack at depth. Initiatives like the Talent Gap Analysis by CcHUB (supported by NITDA) aimed at assessing the technical skills gap in Nigeria’s IT workforce, alongside ‘TENT by Paradigm Initiative’, ‘re:learn by CcHUB’ and Andela provide good starting points. These initiatives provide the opportunity to explore:
- immediate to medium term programmes to bridge the talent demands by the industry
- a progressive and sustainable programme to strengthen STEM education in Primary and Secondary Schools across the nation and
- a revamp of computer science, engineering and entrepreneurship courses in tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
Grow local funding for early & growth stage ventures – despite the obvious increase in foreign investment in the sector, there is still a dearth of funding for early and growth stage start-ups. There is an urgent need to encourage more local funds such as Growth Capital by CcHUB, Greenhouse Capital, Spark and the efforts of the Lagos Angel Network while making it attractive for foreign funds and investors to invest in the sector.
Beyond funding for existing start-ups, we also need strategic programmes aimed at building pipeline and backing experimentation (boiling the ocean). Impact funds led by government and developmental partners can improve the attractiveness of the sector while building a case for further private sector investment.
Invest in the infrastructure that will enable technology and other sectors to thrive and grow – we need to aggressively identify and fix soft infrastructure that hinders ease of doing business, ease of attracting investment and support for spurring growth of start-ups and SMEs in general.
We should also collectively double down on increasing the penetration of Internet across the country. We need to support creative programmes and products aimed at accelerating last mile across the country.
Working with business support organisations, government should invest in repurposing poorly used/redundant public spaces (e.g. Libraries) across the country to serve as resource centres for entrepreneurs and creatives.
A purposefully supported technology industry in Nigeria will yield multiple benefits of diversifying our economy while enabling superior value creation and competitiveness of many other sectors. We have the human capital and market upon which these value can be built, the missing piece of the puzzle is committed leadership with razor-sharp focus.
The cynics will water down the significance of Mark Zuckerberg’s visit but I am convinced it will yield dividends. The scale of these dividends, is what industry leaders, partners and government need to orchestrate for our common good!
The CcHUB – the dream of two naïve but determined young lads gave birth to Nigeria’s first innovation hub exactly 5 years ago today.
With a deep sense of responsibility, we took on the challenge of building a platform capable of spotting and supporting smart Nigerians to build the future we collectively desire. Albeit our experience of working in social innovation and innovation consulting respectively, Femi Longe and I set out on the journey knowing we were betting against odds in an attempt to create something. That ‘something’ was to simply build a ‘movement’, a renewed social fabric for enabling creativity despite the countless barriers to it in Nigeria.
Our fascination and excitement for technology innovation and social capital was largely disconnected from the start-up movement sweeping the world at the point. While we drew inspiration from the work being done by many innovation hubs across the world, we were adamant on our goal of creating a movement around addressing social issues in Nigeria with technology. Our motivation hinged on the single fact that Nigerians are aspirational and as such desire better – the future without doubt belongs to entrepreneurs who are able to address social challenges in commercially sustainable ways.
To achieve our objective, we would be required to work with start-ups, enable civil society organisations and ultimately inspire PPPs that will strengthen our ability to support innovation as a nation. Without doubt, we have managed to do a lot of good while being commercially viable. Yes, we are one of the few financially sustainable innovation hubs in Africa.
I have been incredibly lucky to work with some exceptional and deeply committed young Nigerians to whom I owe a lot of gratitude. We have collectively created an incredible platform that is about to unleash our talent further and empower us to support the amazing community that we serve.
As we look ahead into a future with promises, I look back at the catalytic role played by Indigo Trust, Omidyar Network and MainOne Cable Company with a heart full of appreciation. These are three unique organisations that took a bet on us even when we had no business plan. Without your investment, there won’t be CcHUB.
Our commitments for the next 5 years will again be on working with a handful of new and established organisations to deepen the innovation ecosystem in Nigeria. We’ll seek to create ways to develop talent, fund both early and growth stage businesses and accelerate the development of smart infrastructure for economic prosperity in Nigeria.
Wish us well!
- ‘Bosun Tijani
Co-Creation Hub (CcHUB) invites CSOs, investigative journalists, owners of online platforms, active citizens and the general public, to a digital security workshop to review the Safe Online – a digital security guide for Nigerian civil society organisation, journalists, and active citizens.
Social Media and the internet play an increasingly significant role in the efforts to promote social justice and an active democracy in Nigeria.
As more of our personal and professional data moves online, CSOs, Journalists, and active citizens are increasingly exposed to digital security that can compromise their activities. To prevent this, the CcHUB, supported by OSIWA, is developing SafeOnline – a digital security guide.
On the 28th of July, CcHUB introduced a select group of NGOs, journalists & bloggers to the Safe Online Digital Security Guide.
In this second review workshop, we would show even more updates we have made to the content as well as the online platform and the physical books that would contain the guide.
Friday, September, 9th 2016
Time: 9.00 AM to 1.00 PM
Venue: 6th floor, Co-Creation Hub, 294, Herbert Macaulay Way, Sabo-Yaba, Lagos
Register via: http://bit.ly/2bXNrDb
This is your opportunity to influence the direction of a project poised to ensure internet freedom & rights for the organisations and individuals playing a critical in ensuring the strength of our democracy in Nigeria, through self-defence.
The workshop is open to staff and members of CSOs, investigative journalists, owners of online platforms, active citizens and the general public, though limited spaces are available.
If you are currently using or plan to use more digital tools- the internet, social media and mobile – to delivering your job to ensure accountability and transparency in our democracy, plan to attend.
Imisi 3D is a virtual reality creation lab, building a community of VR content creators in Nigeria.
LAGOS, NIGERIA, August 22, 2016 - Imisi 3D the leading Virtual Reality Creation Lab in Nigeria is holding what may be the continent’s first Virtual Reality Hackathon in October. Imisi 3D is supported by Co-creation Hub, Facebook and Samsung amongst others.
Imisi 3D has announced that it will hold its first hackathon on October 28th, 2016. Applications to participate open at 11:59pm on 22nd of August and close at 11:59pm on Friday, 9th of September. Shortlisted applicants will be informed on September 16th and provided with access to Virtual Reality developer stations and resources to hone their skills in preparation for the event.
“It is time for us to become creators and not just consumers of technology, and Virtual Reality is a great place to start” said Imisi 3D founder, Judith Okonkwo. “This technology has uses that cut across several industry sectors, and the impact on things as critical as learning is profound. With 2016 being described as the year of Virtual Reality, Nigeria must not get left behind.”
Jeremy Kirshbaum, Research Manager at the Institute for the Future, shared his thoughts “since virtual and augmented reality are still completely new consumer industries, it is up for grabs who will make a mark in the field. Nigeria already has a great track record of creating innovative world class content in entertainment and music, and it is exciting to see them take a leadership role in the virtual world.”
The hackathon will take place on the 6th Floor of CcHUB (294 Herbert Macaulay Road, Yaba) and is supported by a range of organisations including the Virtual World Society and the Institute for the Future. Interested applicants are invited to join the VR hackathon Facebook networking group here, and then apply once they have formed teams.
Over $10,000 (ten thousand dollars) worth of prizes will be awarded at the hackathon.
About Imisi 3D
Imisi 3D is a Virtual Reality (VR) creation lab dedicated to growing a community of VR developers in Nigeria, creating solutions using VR, and providing educational and engagement experiences with VR. They see huge potential for VR as a tool for creating everyday solutions and intend to change the technology narrative so that here we become creators and not just consumers of technology.
Imisi 3D is future thinking and committed to being responsible ancestors, creating a better world for today and tomorrow.
For more information including sponsorship opportunities contact Imisi 3D at firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated: The Imisi3D has been postponed to Saturday, November 19th, 2016
The stories of the future that we tell affect the future that we create. By collectively creating a vision of the future, we can better make decisions in the present.
On August 25th, Jeremy Kirshbaum from Institute for the Future (IFTF), in partnership with Imisi3D, invites you to a conversation about the future of Lagos. We will start with Lagos in the year 2026, and then together work backward to what this means for us today.
The Institute for the Future is an independent, nonprofit strategic research group with more than 40 years of forecasting experience. The core of our work is identifying emerging trends and discontinuities that will transform global society and the global marketplace. We provide our members with insights into business strategy, design process, innovation, and social dilemmas. Our research spans a broad territory of deeply transformative trends, from health and health care to technology, the workplace, and human identity. The Institute for the Future is located in Palo Alto, California.
Imisi 3D is a Virtual Reality (VR) creation lab dedicated to growing a community of VR developers in Nigeria, creating solutions using VR, and providing educational and engagement experiences with VR. We see huge potential for VR as a tool for creating everyday solutions and intend to change the technology narrative so that here we become creators and not just consumers of technology. We are future thinking and committed to being responsible ancestors, creating a better world for today and tomorrow.
One way that we think about the future is talking about the interaction of shared fictions and built systems. Using a basic framework as a starting point for the conversation, we will begin to create some scenarios of what Lagos will look like in 10 to 15 years, and, based on these, discuss insights for our current context. Jeremy Kirshbaum will briefly present some ideas from his current research to kick off the discussion.
Who is it for: The event is free to anyone with an open mind, creative spirit, and a passion for creating a beautiful, inclusive future.