Profiles of main tech parks, accelerators, hackathons

The Nigerian government recently introduced startup Nigeria under the National Social Investment Programme to support a private-sector-led innovation hub for the development of the country’s technological capacity. It is conceptualised as a 3-month incubation programme to support innovative idea-staged companies across Nigeria with funding, mentorship and training. Startup Nigeria, domiciled in the office of the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria claims its “curriculum is specifically designed to move companies from ideas to viable products/services to market.” The World Bank has also invested more than US$6m to support technological innovation in Nigeria.

The growth of the startup ecosystem has necessitated leveraging accelerators, tech parks and hackathons for capital and human resources to complement their businesses. This has resulted in the mushrooming of accelerators, hackathons and tech parks all over Nigeria. There is no doubt that the increase in several types of hackathons has created local awareness about digital technology.

A group of teenage girls from Regina Pacis Model Secondary School in Onitsha, Southeast of Nigeria, won the top prize at the 2018 Technovation World Pitch Summit, the world's largest tech entrepreneurship program in the United States. The team of five girls developed a mobile application called FD-Detector to tackle the problem of fake pharmaceutical products under the guidance of Mrs Uchenna Onwuamaegbu-Ugwu, their mentor. At the beginning of the decade, it would have been difficult to contemplate that a team of teenage girls could attain such a feat on the global stage of technology innovation. This feat points to the growing interest in digital technology in the country.

It is important to note that this awareness is more likely limited to elite schools in commercial centres across the country. Schools in rural areas are likely to be excluded from participation in technological innovation because of a lack of requisite infrastructure. For instance, electric power supply is very sporadic in the country and this would mean that rural dwellers would have to rely on generators to power computers and charge phones.

While there are several of these entities nurturing tech entrepreneurs, a few stand out for their reach, resources and creativity:

  • Creation Hub (CCHUB) is a preeminent technology incubator-turned-accelerator. When Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg visited Nigeria in 2016 CCHUB was his first stop. CCHUB is reputed to have influenced businesses across diverse sectors of the Nigerian economy: Wecyclers (environment); BudgIT (fiscal transparency); Traclist (e-commerce); LifeBank (Healthcare); re:learn (education); Truppr (wellness); GoMyWay(transportation); GoVOTE(election), SafeOnline(digital security); Lags Innovation Hotspots; and i-HQ. CCHUB is funded by Omidyar Network, Google and the Sainsbury Family Trust.
  • Passion incubator is a technology incubator/accelerator with expertise in innovation programme design and tech investments. Passion has also contributed to the establishment of several tech startups including Waracake, Talkingbookz, Beattrafik, Medrep, Easyspace and Stylista.
  • 4440NG is a joint venture between 88mph and L5Lab. It basically invests in mobile and Internet startups. 440NG has the following startups in its portfolio including Pass.ng, Gingerbox, Taja, Fuelvoucher, Youngsoul, ourprayerbox.com, Jay Osbie, Ella.ng, Obiwezy.
  • Leadpath Nigeria was launched in February 2015 as a seed capital fund that provides short, medium and long-term funding to small and medium-sized startup businesses in areas such as software, web and mobile technologies. Their investment band ranges from US$25,000 to US$100,000 for seed investment and several millions of dollars for follow-on funding series.
  • Wennovation Hub, established in 2011, describes itself as the pioneer innovation accelerator in Nigeria. It has offices in several cities across Nigeria including Lagos, Ibadan, Abuja and Kaduna. Wennovation focuses on what it describes as social impact sectors such as education, agriculture, healthcare and infrastructure. It also claims to have supported over “300 startup teams and over 6,000 youths physically with as much as US$2.5m raised by startups within its network and more than US$66m raised as follow-on funding by startups within its founders’ network.”
  • Zone Tech Park, located in Lagos, is one of Nigeria’s leading tech parks. It comprises five halls for events and meetings, a 650-seater conference hall and a car park with the capacity to accommodate more than 150 cars. In addition, the park provides an excellent Internet facility, free co-working areas, multiple event areas and food. Some of the products that have been launched by the park include peerless, an electronic learning management system; nativesmart, a native language system; outwork, an online work platform for everyday HR, a web-based and mobile-friendly HR solution.
  • Abuja Technology Village (ATV) is a special economic zone located in the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria, Abuja. It is designed for technology research, incubation, development and commercialisation in four broad technology domains such as ICT, biotechnology, minerals technology and energy technology. The ATV is also a member of the international association of science parks and areas of innovation.

The growth of the Nigerian technology ecosystem has brought about diverse hackathons that enable computer programmers, hackers, coders and developers to interface with one another. Some of the popular ones are listed below:

  • Codefest Nigeria Hackathon (LAGOS) is dedicated to undergraduates and serving members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) who are interested in software codes.
  • Blockchain Developer Meetup is a monthly meetup for blockchain developers in Lagos, Nigeria.
  • Figma X GitHub Lagos Hackathon is an annual event takes place in Lagos, Nigeria. IT is for UX designers, UI designers, user researchers, interactive designers, developers, PMs and other techies who are interested in hacking with Figma API.
  • #HackQuantum Series is a blockchain hackathon in Lagos.
  • Vanhack-Nigeria Meetup helps tech talents to increase their chances of getting job opportunities overseas. It takes place in Lekki, Lagos.
  • Lagos Blockchain Hackathon (LBH) is held in collaboration with the Canadian government and brings together entrepreneurs, innovators, developers and the blockchain community in Lagos.
  • AR/VR Africa Hackathon: Lagos is focused on innovation and creative learning in augmented and virtual reality. It takes place in Lagos, in April.
  • Policy Hackathon brings together policy-makers with a focus on the regulatory environment for innovation and entrepreneurship in Nigeria. It is a project funded by the Federal German Ministry for Economic Cooperation. It also takes place in Lagos, in March.
  • All-Female Hackathon is usually held in celebration of the international women’s day in Lagos.
  • Coding 101 (Learn How To Code) creates an avenue for interested participants to learn machine languages such as python from programmers. It takes place in Lagos.