Maximising Nigeria’s potential through innovation hubs
In the words of the Chairman of ISN Hubs, Tomi Davies, “The journey to sustainable innovation hubs that will help our entrepreneurs build start-ups that create decent jobs for Nigerians has started in earnest. This first gathering of the Innovation Support Network Hubs in Lagos marks the beginning of that journey to global competitiveness.
“I am proud of the 75 founding hubs who made this happen and look forward to welcoming our new members. I would especially like to thank our sponsors, Ford Foundation and AVPA for their support and look forward to continuing to work with them.”
This sums up the key value from the event for me because we simply need to become a more innovative country, less dependent on natural resources, following the example of countries such as Norway and the United Arab Emirates.
I recently saw a tweet that read like, ‘Africa needs to create at least 1.5 million jobs monthly for the next 30 years to avert crisis’. I am not sure if this tweet is right or wrong but one thing I don’t need any expert to tell me is that there is fire on the mountain. This is because Nigeria and the rest of Africa are simply not creating enough jobs.
The Federal government reported some months back that Nigeria’s unemployment rate was estimated to grow to about 33.5 per cent by 2020. This, in my view, is an alarming figure that should be of concern to anyone in this country. It is indeed a worrisome issue because it points to the fact that fewer jobs are being created annually in Nigeria. It is evident that the Nigerian population keeps rising exponentially on a daily basis. The quantum of jobs being created cannot meet the number of people requiring to have jobs on a daily basis.
In order to successfully overcome the high rate of unemployment in Nigeria, it has been estimated that four million new jobs need to be created annually. This is one of the reasons why I long decided to actively support the ecosystem; we all have a role to play.
I am glad that the ISN Hubs which came alive due to the role that I and a few other leaders played has started to evolve. And it has become relevant. It all started after we attended the 3rd edition of the Afrilabs Annual Gathering in Daa es salam, Tanzania. I hope is that it goes on to support more hubs that will in turn support more start-ups to be successful.
Innovation hubs are avenues for budding entrepreneurs, usually referred to as start-ups. They are exposed to stakeholders that can give them the required type of support needed to commence business and grow. These are mentors, angel investors and venture capitalists, development agencies, corporate organisations, academia and the government.
Congratulations to all of the 75 innovation hubs that are the founding members of the ISN Hubs (and many more yet to join) for the successful hosting of the 1st annual gathering. It is indeed a sign of things to come for a network that has a mission to create jobs, stimulate socio-economic growth in Nigeria, leveraging science, technology and innovation by supporting member hubs and their communities with capacity, knowledge, finance, network and enabling policies.
Personally, I think this is a super-exciting period both for Nigeria and Africans as more and more young people are rising up to the challenge of being solutions to problems that have been foisted on them due to years of unbridled greed, visionless leadership and corruption.
This is a call on the government and other policymakers to make it a point of duty to work hand in hand with the tech and innovation community, with a view to finding out new ways of solving some of our national problems. The private sector has a huge role to play, while it has a right to choose where to spend, it must understand that we have to collectively fund innovation because the R&D does not come easy or cheap.
CFA is the founder of CFAmedia.ng, a business and innovation platform.
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