The federal government, Lagos government and Eko Innovation Centre have reiterated their commitment to support the growth of tech startups in the country, as they term it a catalyst for economic development.
This was discussed at the Art Of Technology Lagos 3.0 conference held recently in Lagos where the importance of technology was emphasized and innovative tech entrepreneurs were empowered with equity investment and other initiatives to help them thrive in the business space.
Speaking at the event themed ‘Funding and a Connected Lagos’ , Isa Ali Pantami, Nigeria’s Minister of Communication and Digital Economy said that technology deployment is changing the world, adding that the ICT sector was instrumental for the country’s exit from recession. He, therefore, urged startups to deploy technology to ease their operations in the interest of growing their business remarkably.
“the country has the highest number of venture capitalists therefore the government is determined to support the growth of startups, the Startup bill currently up for consideration by the federal Executive council, would further help accelerate the growth of Startups when made to the law,” he said.
He also commended Lagos and Eko Innovation Centre for making the state the Silicon Valley of Africa stating that it would continue to support the state in its quest to achieve much more.
Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Governor, Lagos State said that his administration has been deliberate about deploying technology to make governance seamless and has been funding the technology space in line with its smart city agenda which has further helped the state to be the 5th largest economy in Africa.
“From traffic management to security, Lagos is deploying technology to make the state better also agencies like the Lagos State Science Research and Innovation Council (LASRIC) through the application of science and information technology and grant provision to innovators is helping Lagos achieve its smart city agenda,” he said.
Some of the results from deliberations were calls for more government and private sector support for startups through funding, friendly policies, leveraging technology, adopting sustainability in business, taking the opportunity of sectors they belong among others.
Speakers at the conference also agreed that when the startup Bill becomes a law, it will contribute to the creation of an enabling environment for growth, attraction, and protection of investment in tech startups.
Victor Gbenga Afolabi, Convener AOT Lagos 3.0 and Founder of Eko Innovation Centre, said the African startup ecosystem has witnessed tremendous growth over the last few years. Albert, a lot of startups in Africa still finds it difficult to secure funds for their businesses which is the reason for the two-day conference
Speaking about applications for the 2021 Collaborate Lagos, he said no less than 168 startups applied, with each proffering groundbreaking solutions to different challenges.
“Over the years, we get blown away by the number of startup entries for Collaborate Lagos. This year we had 168 top quality applications, these creative ideas are designed to address local issues and eye global expansion,” he said.
Some of the startups that pitched were Drugstore.ng, ThinkBikes, Healthstack, Eko Carbon Exchange, Retailar, Vinsighte, EonsFleet and SabiTeach.
Out of these applicants, three emerged winners and clinched cash prizes, they are Vinsighte who emerged first position with N1 million, Retailar came second with N500,000 and SabiTeach clinched third place with N250,000.
Art of Technology (AOT) Lagos is the largest tech conference in Nigeria which brings together key stakeholders from the public and private sector to discuss policies and initiatives that will pave way for the evolution of a smarter, digital, efficient, and competitive Lagos.
The event also had experts in the technology space, business, and financial sector. Some of the keynote speakers who dissected the theme and subthemes are Ola Williams, Country Manager, Microsoft; Andrew Nevin, Financial Services Leader & Chief Economist (PWC, NG); Olukayode Pitan, MD/CEO, Bank of Industry; Kola Aina, Founder, Ventures Platform; Tomi Davies, Collaborator-In-Chief, TVC Labs; and Aishah N. Ahmad, Deputy Governor, Financial Systems Stability Directorate, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) among other experts who spoke during the panel sessions.