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Sanwo-Olu: Lagos in talks with Facebook, Google to build Africa’s biggest tech cluster

Author:
Aderemi Ojekunle

Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos, says the state is embarking on the construction of the biggest technology cluster in West Africa.

The tech cluster, which will be located in Yaba, is to developed in collaboration with tech giants, Facebook and Google.

Gboyega Akosile, chief press secretary to the governor, in a statement, said Sanwo-Olu announced this on Wednesday when he toured two major hubs in the state.

The governor visited Venia Hub in Lekki and Impact Hub in Ikoyi, meeting scores of startups in the ecosystems for a roundtable discussion on expanding funding opportunities and infrastructure development.

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Venia Hub is an ecosystem housing Flutterwave and 100 other tech start-up companies. Impact Hub also has scores of startups operating in its ecosystem.

Sanwo-Olu said the Yaba Technology Cluster, called K.I.T.E., would be a free zone that would allow the growth of funding and financing for innovative ideas generated by entrepreneurs in tech industry and FinTech space, adding that the ecosystem would also offer free labs for the use of startups to take their innovations to from ideation to the next level.

K.I.T.E. is an acronym for Knowledge, Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship.

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“Technology is the new oil and the basic element for the Fourth Industrial Revolution globally. As a State with a massive population of young people, we need to play a major role in the development of technology, which is an enabler to leapfrog into rapid socio-economic growth. We take technology as an important deliverable in our Government’s development agenda,” Sanwo-Olu said.

“For us to make lasting impact in tech industry, we said to ourselves we needed to build the infrastructure to support the sector. We are building a tech campus on a 22,000 square meters land in Yaba, which we christen K.I.T.E. We are working with global brands in the tech space, such as Facebook and Google, to deliver this important technology hub.

“We are currently laying 3,000 kilometres metropolitan fibre optic cables across the State to drop reliable and fast Internet connectivity in homes and workplaces. These are part of the infrastructure required as the backbone for the tech industry to flourish and empower our young people in the space to take their businesses and ideas to the level of stability.”

Sanwo-Olu said the state government has provided support for startups through the Lagos state employment trust fund (LSETF) and Lagos state science research and innovation council (LASRIC), which provide grant opportunities for innovators and tech researchers.

He disclosed two out of the 20 start-ups ideas supported through LASRIC last year had secured patents for their innovations and ready to transform into fully-fledged businesses that would create jobs.

“The visit to your ecosystems today is for you to be assured that this Government is not sitting back in taking steps to ease access. We fully understand the role which technology plays in our lives and how technology is important to any society that wants to be relevant in coming decades. We are happy to be building the capability for Lagos so that we can compete with other developed cities in the world.”

Teju Abisoye, LSETF executive secretary, said the agency has provided support for over 38 partner hubs across local government areas (LGAs) and local council development areas (LCDAs) in the state, stressing that the objective of the funding was to support startups from idea to exit stages.

The governor was accompanied by the state executive council members, including Hakeem Fahm, commissioner for science and technology and Olatunbosun Alake, the special adviser on innovation and technology.

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