The backbone of every economy is hinged on Technology with entrepreneurship driving the growth of the entire system. We see Technology powering every facet of human endeavor, enabling effective governance, empowering security, driving economic and social changes. No nation especially the developing countries can afford to neglect the importance of technology if they want to be relevant in future.
Going by the projections from Gartner, Information Technology spending will nearly hit $4 trillion threshold by the end of this year and then Software spending will be $158 billion in 2016.The positive economic indexes coming from Nigeria as an emerging market shows we are certainly a centre of global attraction and investors haven.
I have often times stated that for a country like Nigeria, the realities of achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals(MDGs) within the given time will still be an illusion if we do not quickly channel the strength of the young population into exploring ways of creating wealth and opportunities through the use of Technology. It is obvious that Nigerian youths when given the right technology tools and support can create products and services that will impact on the economy of the country positively, perhaps this could be the panacea to unemployment.
Just as a recent report released from the research done by Omidyar Network on Accelerating Entrepreneurship in Africa, shows that despite the challenges entrepreneurs in Nigeria face like lack of easy access to capital and funding, infrastructural and power deficiencies etc., there is a positive and strong entrepreneurial culture in Nigeria driven by the young population. This shows that many young Nigerians are eager to become entrepreneurs if given the needed support in an enabling environment!
As a startup founder, observing, facilitating and following the Tech trends (www.techtrendng.com) in Nigeria and Africa over the years, this is one of the most interesting times in terms of the realities and possibilities of technology entrepreneurship amongst young people. In that spirit, many young Nigerians despite the daunting challenges are working so hard to build tech Start-Ups that will be globally competitive. These young Techpreneurs are continuously placing Nigeria in the eyes of global media attracting investment and re-branding the image of the nation.
At the Mobile Web West Africa 2013 conference held in Lagos, the event which is a leading Mobile-focused conference tracts the development and trends in the Mobile ecosystem in the region. The conference which x-rays the impact and economic potentials of Mobile devices and Applications, saw delegates from leading Mobile business all over the world participate. The most amazing thing at that conference was seeing a lot of young Nigerians who have started their own Tech Startups as Software and Application developers. The passion and drive seen in these young people can only be likened to what our Super Eagles football team did at the last African Cup of Nation-#winning!
A good number of these young people who also live in Nigeria are making headlines and grabbing attention internationally. Talk about Iroko Partners, Jumia, Konga, Jobberman, Kaymu,Paga,The Inye Tablet ,Veda Computers etc are a few of Tech businesses attracting great funding from international organizations and corporations.
The Beni American University- an Online University founded by the 24-year old Gossy Ukanwoke is one Startup that needs mentioning. Ideas like the iPolice, iConnect, BudgIT, Enough is Enough Nigeria, social media platforms and bloggers are many of such driving social changes in Nigeria and have received global recognitions. The Maliyo games, Kuluya games, Danfo Driver games are all driving Nigerian content into relevance.
The effort of the duo- Bosun Tijani and Femi Longe, Founders of Co-creation Hub (CcHub) is worthy of mentioning. The CcHub which is at the centre of tech innovation amongst young people in Nigeria is Nigeria’s first open living lab and pre-incubation space designed to be a multi-functional, multi-purpose space where work to catalyze creative social tech ventures take place. It is a place for technologists, social entrepreneurs, government, tech companies, impact investors and hackers in and around Lagos to co-create new solutions to the many social problems in Nigeria. The organizers of Mobile Monday are doing their bits too.
The Women in Technology in Nigeria organization is at the heart of grooming and mentoring Young Girls in becoming Techpreneurs. Recently they organized a Mobile Application Development Competition for young girls in secondary schools in Nigeria; I saw many Mobile apps developed by these Young girls. One of such Apps is a Traffic Monitoring App developed by the Princeton Girls for ICT, their project was showcased in the US at the Technnovation competition in May 2013.Software Nigeria Challenge for Higher Education Community in Nigeria powered by the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON) has seen many Applications being developed by young people.
It is also important to mention the role of tech bloggers like Loy Okezie of Techloy, the Otekbits team, TechTrends Nigeria,the Nigeria ICT journalists and other bloggers who are constantly following these developments and bringing them to lime light.
Seeing the great potentials in these young Nigerians, several Multi -national Companies like Qualcomm, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Blackberry, Tecno are harnessing the potentials of these young app developers in building their platform and also supporting the growth of the ecosystem.
And then the critical question is-What is our Government doing to facilitate the growth of Youth Tech Entrepreneurship in Nigeria? Over the years our Government has not played their role in creating the enabling environment for these young Tech entrepreneurs to thrive; but right now it seems government is beginning to appreciate the importance as seen by the recent effort of the newly created Ministry of Communications Technology focused at driving technology innovation in Nigeria. The ministry has set up Software Venture Fund, commissioned two software incubation centers in Lagos and Calabar, inaugurated a Technology Innovation Committee, these are all steps in the right direction which are commendable but a whole lot needs to be done by government to support technology entrepreneurs in Nigeria. One of the major tasks of our government is to help structure, facilitate and promote the growth of the ecosystem in Nigeria where Venture capitals, Accelerators, Incubators, Angel investors, the Private Public Partners, Multinational Companies (MNCs) can invest in these young Nigerian Techpreneurs’ businesses.