‘Innovation hubs will help developers, economy’
Experts have said that innovation hubs serve as strong economic stimulants with ripple effects on the Information Technology (IT) ecosystem and the economy. But they argued that in Nigeria, there is still infinitesimal investment in innovation hubs compared to the growth the sector has recorded.
The Co-founder of V8, an innovation hub in Lagos, Tobi Oke, said the Nigerian investor is yet to understand investment in the cloud compared to the oil wells and real estates. However, he postulated that when listing of tech companies begin to happen on the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE), the Nigerian investor will grasp a better understanding.
On the benefits of Innovation hub, he stated that the platform offers synergy and collaboration among developers, entrepreneur and investors; reduction in the capital costs which is mostly underestimated in Nigeria; networking; better and shared learning; interconnectedness of projects, availability of finance and opportunities.
Relating his experience, cofounder, Ugo Okoye, pointed out that it took him two years to move from his abode to structure his business in 2004 which was unadvisable presently as he encountered challenges like power, meeting places with clients, internet cost, and isolation. He pointed that running your office in an innovation hub afforded the developer and entrepreneur the opportunity to focus wholly on his endeavor.
Tobi Oke noted that the acceptance and adaptability for mobile technology points to the issue of delivering infrastructure at a lower cost. ‘’in Nigeria, there is no distribution network that has the same number of captive users as telecos in the country. This means that you can move products using telecos better than other means in Africa because we have not built roads or retail centres of scale and technology has given us that scale with mobile phones. Whereas, the infrastructure in developed countries reduces their dependency for mobile services’’
Calling on the government, Okoye beckoned on the government for policies to protect local companies; stability and consistency which will aid investment and thrive the ecosystem.
According to the Global System for Mobile Telecommunications (GSMA) report, Africa is home to 310 active hubs, with Nigeria; 23, South Africa; 51, Kenya 26.
The springing up of technology hubs in the region has been hinged on the growth of mobile, which has emerged as the platform of choice for creating, distributing and consuming innovative digital solutions and services.
Global System for Mobile Telecommunications (GSMA) in its ‘Ecosystem Accelerator programme’ report, listed the factors driving this trend, to include the expansion of advanced mobile networks, the growing adoption of smart devices, the convenience of accessing real-time, feature-rich content and services on the go, and the underdevelopment of alternative technologies, notably fixed-line connectivity, in the region.
GSMA observed that although global content providers such as Facebook and Google have launched localised services to tap into the increasingly tech-savvy consumer base, there is growing interest from consumers in home-grown solutions that directly appeal to local interests and cultures, and that address unique social and economic challenges faced by consumers in the region.