The Lagos State Government is set to partner with Facebook and Google towards the construction of the biggest technology cluster in West Africa.
This was made public by the State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, during a tour of two major innovation and technology hubs in the state on Wednesday.
According to the Governor, this is part of the state government’s effort to largely increase the level of its intervention in the provision of technology infrastructure and expand the tech space to accommodate more startups.
Sanwo-Olu was on the tour with members of the State’s Executive Council including Commissioner for Science and Technology, Mr Hakeem Fahm, and Special Adviser on Innovation and Technology, Olatunbosun Alake.
They visited Venia Hub in Lekki and Impact Hub in Ikoyi, where he met scores of startups in the ecosystems for a roundtable discussion on expanding funding opportunities and infrastructure development.
The Governor noted that the Yaba Technology Cluster, called K.I.T.E. (meaning Knowledge, Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship would be a free zone that would allow the growth of funding and financing for innovative ideas generated by entrepreneurs in the tech industry and FinTech space.
He added that the ecosystem would also offer free labs for the use of startups to take their innovations from ideation to the next level.
Sanwo-Olu said: “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.
“For us to make a lasting impact in the 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 fiber 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.”
The governor said that apart from the infrastructural initiatives, the state government had been providing 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 also disclosed that 2 out of the 20 start-ups ideas supported through LASRIC last year had secured patents for their innovations and were ready to transform into fully-fledged businesses that would create jobs.
Note that Venia Hub is technology centre housing Flutterwave and 100 other tech start-up companies. Impact Hub also has scores of startups operating in its ecosystem.