Lagos leads rest of Africa in tech hubs, but not funding

Lagos has taken over as the African city with the highest number of technology hubs (31 active hubs) according to Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA) report released in March 2018.

On a country comparison, Nigeria lagged South Africa by the number of technology hubs (tech hubs) with 55 active hubs, leaving the second largest economy which boasts 59 active tech hubs on the Africa continent to take the lead.

Despite Lagos newfound status, a report released in February by Partech titled ‘VC Funding to African Tech Start-ups, 2015-2017’ showed that funding to tech start-ups in Nigeria slowed down compared to those in South Africa and Kenya during the period. Lagos accounts for more than 70 percent of the entire tech ecosystem in Nigeria. The tech start-ups received $115 million in the period representing a 5 percent growth year-on-year and accounting for 20 percent of the total funding coming into the African continent.

Tech hubs are defined as physical spaces designed to foster and support tech start-ups. These include incubators, accelerators, co-working spaces, fab labs, Makerspaces, and other innovation centers. Active hubs, on the other hand, are hubs that show active digital presence (website, news, social media).

Africa is currently home to 442 tech hubs according to the 2018 tech hub report; this was up by 128 from 314 active tech hubs reported in 2016. Other leading tech hub countries in the continent, apart from the two largest economies include; Egypt (34), and Kenya (30) Morocco (25), Ghana (24), Tunisia (17), Uganda (16), Zimbabwe (13), and Senegal with 12 techhubs.

Collins Onuegbu, founder of Sasware and director at Lagos Angels Network (LAN) told BusinessDay that the report does not come as a surprise given the size of the city both in population (20 million people) and economy (GDP of over N100 billion).

“Investors go to the hub, to seek out smart start-ups to invest. The more hubs that open up to them, the more start-ups get trained and more likelihood that more receive funding,” he said.

He also explained that South Africa and Kenya have relatively matured economies compared to Nigeria. More investments happen at different levels of startup developments in South Africa.

“Kenya has had some stability in government. The government has had a focus on technology as a way to diversify its economy. It is only recently that Nigeria woke up to this possibility,” Onuegbu said.

Countries like Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire have also experienced significant growth in the number of active tech hubs over the past year. In fact, the Ghanaian ecosystem – home to hubs such as MEST and iSpace – has grown by 50 percent (from 16 to 24). Similarly, Abidjan in Cote d’Ivoire has gradually positioned itself as the new catalyst of innovation across Francophone Africa and has seen its number of active tech hubs double.

Funding has also picked up in many of these countries. Tech start-ups in Ghana which is less than the size of Lagos closed six deals in 2017 compared to Nigeria’s total 17 deals.

David Alozie, a tech ecosystem expert, said that while the GSMA report shows that the number of hubs in Africa is growing, it does not quantify the level of impact of the growth.

“The report could make tech investors believe there are more opportunities in Nigeria because of the number of hubs and the population. However, the number of hubs does not translate to investments. Investments come when there are good start-up cases,” he said.

Babatunde Babs Ogundeyi, the founder of, told BusinessDay that funding is a process which the Nigerian ecosystem must go through. To attract significant investment and get investors excited about Nigeria, the country, he said, must have more success stories, more exits.

“It will happen, but it is a process; even Silicon Valley was built over many years,” Ogundeyi said.




Facebook brings first African tech hub to Nigeria

Social media platform, Facebook has opened its first African technology hub in Nigeria.

Located at Mongomery, Yaba, a suburb of Lagos, it is named NG_Hub. The hub, which is equipped with modern technologies, also boasts of several workspaces.

In the likes of the CCHUBs, NG_Hub, The Guardian, gathered that it was established to further deepen advance technology, including Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, Machine Learning, Internet of Things, among others in the country.

At the unveiling, Facebook also disclosed that it planned to empower about 50,000 young Nigerians with digital training, which had started.

Facebook, which claimed that there are 26 million daily active users of the platform in Nigeria, explained that it was keen on enabling a robust technology ecosystem in the country.

According to the Vice President, Product Partnership, Facebook, Ime Archibong, the launch was about what the platform can do to enhance the great development in the ICT sphere of the country.

Archibong revealed that so much investment went into the project, which started seven months ago.

He said the NG_Hub would service the entire ICT ecosystem, including, SMEs.

From his perspective, Facebook’s Manager, Developers Programme, Emeka Afigbo, the hub would provide opportunities for businesses to be formed and developed.

Afigbo, who revealed that lots of SMEs rely on Facebook to drive their businesses, noted that most businesses thriving today were built through the social media platform.

According to him, as part of the drive to develop the ecosystem, Facebook has started the process of training 50,000 young people in digital skills so as to be able to leverage technology to stimulate economic growth.

At a post-event interview with The Guardian, Facebook’s Director, Public Policy, Africa, Ebele Okobi, the choice of Nigeria to be the first destination in Africa was because of the strategic importance of the country in Africa to the technology company.

Besides, Okobi said there has been a very strong technology ecosystem, which is fast emerging from Nigeria, “which must be nurtured and supported adequately.”

She revealed that Facebook will be working with some partners, including CCHUB, Digify, APCON, She Leads Africa, Tripple A, among others to drive the initiative and makes it more beneficial to the country and Africa as a whole.

From the Office of the Vice President, the Special Assistant on Innovation and Entrepreneurship to the VP, Ife Adebayo, the hub should further enhance ICT development in Nigeria.

Adebayo revealed that the VP, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, is committed to the advancement of technology in the country, “reason he personally toured about 10 tech hubs recently so as to have first-hand information about them and to know areas of challenges.


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