History was made yesterday in YABA!!

(img src: google.com)

History was made yesterday! The first ever ‘Open TownHall Meeting’ discussing the creation of a YABA cluster, was held on the 23rd of June, at the Rooftop of Co-Creation Hub, Lagos. The sole aim of the Townhall meeting was to ‘Kickstart a conversation that would evolve into an OPEN Manifesto’. The #YABATownHall had in attendance, prominent names in the tech industry as well as a huge number of young stakeholders including developers, entrepreneurs and tech enthusiasts.

Opening the Meeting, Bosun Tijani, CEO & Co-Founder of CcHUB, described a Manifesto as a declaration that clearly states who we are and what we feel is important for us to move to the next level. The Co-Host for the evening was Emeka Afigbo, Head of Platform Partnerships at Facebook, who had flown in from London specifically for the meeting.

With over 60 primary and secondary schools (the largest anywhere in the world), three higher institution campuses and hoards of research centers in YABA, the CcHUB boss explained why YABA was the ideal location to build a tech cluster in Nigeria. This is not to say it is superior than other possible locations, but that reasonable success can only be achieved by focusing the limited resources available on a location armed with the ingredients needed to build a real Cluster.

This opinion was supported by several stakeholders in attendance including Gbenga Sesan (CEO of PIN), who revealed that a major issue facing our growth was the underestimation of the value at our disposal. He cited as an example, the level of advancement and bountifulness of design on show at the YABA College of Technology.

Summarily, Judith Okonkwo of Imisi 3D, Olufunbi Falayi of LeadSpace, Ojoma Ochai of British Council and Emeka Okoye of Cymantiks Nigeria all made suggestions touching on the need for a higher level of collaboration, utilizing lessons learned from our experience in the past decade and identification of the stakeholders that comprised the cluster, as important factors in building a solid cluster.

The Future YABA

(img source: google.com)

In the spirit of beginning with the ‘end in mind’, stakeholders present were encouraged to share their image of what the future of YABA would look like. Key visualizations include;

A YABA that produced unicorns, in double digits. Deji, a founder, imagines a YABA that would become a magnet for funds.
Stephen, a young programmer, described the future YABA as ‘ A symbol of Hope’. The “cluster where young people go to get inspired & find resources to build the future”.
To crown it all, Emeka Okoye envisioned a YABA synonymous to the modern day Computer Village, a cluster with a reputation of being the ‘Go-to Place’ for Technology in Nigeria.

The Open Manifesto

Bosun and Emeka emphasized that a Manifesto includes collective aspirations which people commit themselves to. The proposed structure for the Manifesto was one that would have major pillars upon which specific action points can be built by the general community. In the spirit of collaboration and co-creation, all stakeholders present were split into groups of five, with a mandate to come up with one pillar, that each group agreed upon as important to the building the YABA cluster.

courtesy: CoCreation Hub

At the end of the 20 minute breakout session and a review of all options presented by each group, the following 7 pillars were decided upon as critical to the conscious development of the YABA cluster;

  • CULTURE: A general consensus by all groups was that the collaboration culture in YABA was weak. Building a culture of collaboration was placed at the center of the transformation. Volunteer Head, Oluyomi Ojo, Printivo.
  • INFRASTRUCTURE: The laying of the Fibre optic in YABA has served as a catalyst for the growth of tech in the past four years. To build the YABA of the future, creation of hard and digital infrastructure to support this growth is deemed paramount. Volunteer Lead, Olufunbi Falayi, Leadspace
  • FUNDING: Probably the most obvious of all is the financing gap in YABA, facilitating an active funding community would be vital for accelerated growth. Volunteer Lead, Mark Essien, Hotels.ng.
  • TALENT: With an obvious disconnect between the Academic and tech community, talent development that would drive the cluster is key. Volunteer Lead, Dele Bakare, Findworka.
  • POLICY CREATION: It is popular knowledge that solutions can not truly scale without the involvement of the Government. To transform YABA into a ‘Center of Technology Excellence’, the need for supportive policies can not be overemphasized. Volunteer Lead, Gbenga Sesan, PIN.
  • YABA as a Test Bed for a SMART CITY: Top on the Agenda of the Lagos State Government is to transform Lagos State into a Smart City. YABA is the ideal test bed. Volunteer Lead, Emeka Okoye, Cymantiks.
  • RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT: Innovation is at the heart of all breakthroughs and disruptions. A premium has to be placed on continuous support and investment into R&D initiatives. Volunteer, Temie Giwa-Tubosun, Life Bank.
courtesy: CoCreation Hub

Next Steps

Volunteer Committee Leads, would meet with other stakeholders who volunteered for each pillar. Over the next 1 Week, they would give flesh to each pillar.
The Open Manifesto would be made open to Discussions, Comments, Criticism and Contributions over a 1-Month period. Techcabal’s Radar would serve as the platform for all these conversations.
A website would be built to house the Open Manifesto

Join the conversation, enlist into a volunteer community, be a part of the movement to create the new YABA, the source of hope for African entrepreneurs.

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