• Friday, July 19, 2024
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Tech start-up scene brims with fresh opportunities

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Nigeria’s technology start-up scene is brimming with fresh opportunities as support structures become more apparent and investor confidence grows, said Tomie Davies, chief executive officer, TechnoVision Communications, at the Angel Fair West Africa held in Lagos. Already, there is a groundswell of activity in tech start-up scene, as foreign and local investors awaken to the enormous prospects inherent in the country. Few weeks back, about 70 investors from all over and outside of Africa touched down in Lagos to meet startups and ‘do deals’ under the banner of Angel Fair West Africa (AFWA). Davies, convener of the Lagos Angel Network (LAN), said, small businesses and start-ups will represent the bulk of the country’s GDP going forward.

Speaking during a panel session at the fair, Dotun Sulaiman of GrowAfrica, said “there is no better time in Nigeria to be an investor”. Davies however listed some critical metrics that supports Sulaiman’s assertion.

“The population of Nigeria is very youthful. That means that when you acquire customers, businesses will get a long customer life. Secondly, our economy is diversifying. We are moving away from an oil dependent economy. We are seeing moves in agriculture, textile. We are seeing growth in technology”. With other develop economies in Europe, America and Asia already mature, he pointed out that Africa is the next frontier for growth. “Interestingly, Africans are leading the charge in this regard. It won’t be like colonisation”, Davies said in an interview.

For Mauricio Caio of TEF, one of the panelist, there is a lot of potentials for start-ups in the Nigeria, but added that the lack of an ecosystem that supports funding is a challenge. “This is why the idea of angel investment is so critical. The value of having support and capital will drive the ecosystem.” According to him, technology can close developmental gaps. Sulaiman urged government to catalyse the Private Equity (PE) ecosystem. “It starts with education. There are asset that have better returns than putting up high rise buildings. We need to counter the Nigerian tendency to do things small. Putting resources together can achieve targets on grand scale.”

According to him, Nigeria can not attain the scale for global competitiveness by doing things small.

Folabi Esan of Adlevo, harped on the need to improve Nigeria’s educational system. “Technical and vocational training is key. We are talking of global supply chains. GE is bringing a huge number of their suppliers into Nigeria”. There is a shortage of skills to support the supply chain, he said. “We need to get a cadre of people who are literate, numerate and understand how to work with their hands”, said Esan. Estimates show that N100 billion has been invested in developing and sustaining start-ups in Nigeria over the past three years.

The bulk of the figure are investments from foreign Venture Capitalists (VCs). AFWA  is organised by the Angel  Africa List (AAL) in partnership with the LAN and the African Venture Capital Association (AVCA).

Ben Uzor Jr