• Saturday, April 13, 2024
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How proposed Yaba Technology Park will benefit communities in Lagos

Why Yaba struggles to be Nigeria’s tech valley

The proposed Yaba Technology Park project named KITE, representing the Knowledge, Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship center is an initiative of the Lagos State Government to develop a technology hub in the Yaba area and create a home for startups, tech investors, and innovators within and outside the state.

Yaba commonly regarded as the heartbeat of the mainland is a suburb located on the mainland area of Lagos state, housing many start-ups, tertiary institutions, incubations, companies, and busy market sites.

Meanwhile, the success of the proposed project is set to provide an enabling environment that will facilitate innovation and entrepreneurship in Information Communication Technology in the state especially in the Yaba neighborhood.

Chike Onwuegbuchi, Chairman of Nigeria Information Technology Reporters Association (NITRA), while speaking about the project noted that if the project is established, it is going to support entrepreneurship, create employment for youths in the area and other parts of the state, while bringing development in the Yaba Axis.

“It is going to help the youth to be gainfully employed and have a carrier in ICT and the hindrance of trying to look for accommodation while at work will be taken care of by the park itself because it is built by either the Government or NGO, so you don’t need to look out for where to stay and there is also an idea of interdependence because there will be no need of going out to look for a company that is into hardware or software and a company doing coding in another area because it is already provided in the Park.

“It will open more doors for collaboration in building entrepreneurship in Yaba which helps in delivering end products. It is going to solve youth unemployment through entrepreneurship,” Chike said.

He explained that the Park is going to bring about development not only through entrepreneurship but engaged companies who are going to work for them thereby bringing development to the community.

“The park will also attract multinational interest and other private individuals within and outside the country will come to situate and locate a business because of the existence of the park in Yaba and to benefit from ICT facilities to foster the growth of their establishment,” Chike added.

Speaking on the hitches that may be encountered on the project, Chike noted that the major challenges that will be encountered in building the technology Park is the Government having the political will-power in executing the project.

According to him, Political continuity is a major challenge that might be encountered in establishing the project if eventually the incumbent Government is not re-elected to power in the coming election.

“This project is an initiative of the present Government, the possibility of any incoming administration considering the fact that there is going to be an election in 2023, if eventually, the present Government did not get back to power, sustaining the same vision will be another hindrance. If they did not sustain the same vision, there is a possibility that the project may be stopped or abandoned.

Read also: New technology improving trust and broadening youth participation in capital markets

Ozioma Ubabukoh, a tech, and public sector consultant explained that with plenty of business hatchlings growing bigger in the Yaba area of Lagos State every year via incubators, it’s clear that the Yaba Technology Park will be more than just a commercial neighborhood.

“It can offer small companies resources beyond their wildest imagination or ability to finance for themselves. Yaba is home to prominent institutions of higher learning in Lagos – the University of Lagos, Yaba College of Technology, Federal College of Education, Akoka, etc. it is also home to outstanding government and private senior secondary schools. Indeed, the technology park will serve as a practical learning and skills acquisition point to thousands of students and pupils,” Ubabukoh said.

He noted that the technology park will boost more established businesses as tenants, offering start-ups access to more experienced players in the sector.

Ubabukoh, while speaking on challenges that might be faced with the park explained that aside from issues of regulations, the park holds a lot of potentials.

“Governments in all tiers in Nigeria have mostly or never been known to seamlessly execute projects without bureaucratic bottlenecks, and in cases where it is done, maintenance or sustenance of such projects has practically been a failure; hence the presence of moribund monuments and non-functional projects. Corruption usually comes to play via non-realistic regulations and to curb this, those behind the Yaba Technology Park must be combative in the event of such,” He added

However, the tech consultant stated that since the park may not have any affiliation with a university, as obtainable in most parts of the globe, it will foster and support new and emerging technologies as well as be a catalyst for incubating dynamic new businesses.

Babajide Sanwolu, the Governor of Lagos state, while speaking about the project at a recent technology conference in Lagos noted that the project is coming along with some big names in the space.

“We are doing this with some of the big names in the world like Facebook called Meta. Microsoft is also talking to us and a lot of them want to be part of the KITE initiative at Yaba and we are believing that the construction will start next year and it’s supposed to be a campus where all can come, think and innovate everything you can imagine with any kind of campus of its status anywhere in the World,” Sanwolu said.

He stated that the Park will have free internet and opportunity for the startup ecosystem to come and do great work while noting that 23,000 square meters of land have been mapped out for the construction of the project at Yaba.