Was Yaba planned ? — by Tolu adedayo

Overtime, I have understudy the silicon valley and the reason of it being American biggest tech cluster. But those reasons are very very different from why YABA seems to be Nigeria's main tech cluster.

For those of us who are coming up and have never visited the silicon valley, it might be difficult for the bigger players in the industry to take us serious but as I always say, there's a lot in the mind of a Nigerian who's limited due to infrastructure.

So, What do we understand as cluster ?

Clusters are concentrations of highly specialized skills and knowledge, institutions, rivals, related businesses, and sophisticated customers in a particular nation or region.

Proximity in geographic, cultural, and institutional terms allows special access, special relationships, better information, powerful incentives, and other advantages in productivity and productivity growth that are difficult to tap from a distance.

As a result, in a cluster, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. 
Clusters represent a new and complementary way of understanding an economy, organizing economic development thinking and practice, and setting public policy.

Now, why choose yaba while starting up the tech ecosystem in Lagos ? I'm not sure there were plans to make yaba the tech cluster or the Nigeria's silicon valley. But reasons that differs from how silicon valley was built in California.

Available buildings as yaba was said to be planned by the colonial masters, a lot of buildings were available in the different districts with affordable and low cost office spaces. Remember, yaba doesn’t have some amazing internet or regular supply of electricity that could have been the biggest reasons for start-ups coming through. Unlike the silicon valley that was planned to be the techhub in California.

The state of clusters reveals important insights into the productive potential of an economy and the constraints on its future development. A cluster approach to economic development encourages behavior that is pro-competitive.

Globalization and the ease of transportation and communication have led to a surge of outsourcing in which companies have relocated many facilities to low-cost locations.

However, these same forces have created the location paradox. Anything that can be efficiently sourced from a distance has essentially been nullified as a competitive advantage in advanced economies.

I think Information and relationships that can be accessed and maintained through online clusters or e-mail are available to anyone. Although global sourcing mitigates disadvantages, it does not create advantages. Moreover, distant sourcing normally is a second-best solution compared to accessing a competitive local cluster in terms of productivity and innovation.

Paradoxically, the most enduring competitive advantages in a global economy seem to be local. 
There still is much to learn about clusters and their implications for the theory and practice of economic development. We need an integrated approach that frames clusters generally rather than homing in on special cases. Cluster theory can inform, and be informed by, a range of literatures in economics and management.

For practitioners and founders, the promise of cluster-based approaches lies in their positive-sum view of competition and locational competitiveness coupled with their ability to catalyze constructive actions that span constituencies.

Tech start-ups basically outgrow Yaba, that tells us we shouldn’t make the Nigeria tech cluster about the 'Yaba district' Clusters could be from different locations and still be in global connection. Remember, yaba can’t give what it doesn’t have - Oo Nwoye in quote.

Konga moved out of yaba, Andela also outgrown yaba but these start-ups are still in connection with every other players in the ecosystem. That is the beautiful thing.

Respect to these big bosses for their vision, their efforts and hard work in the Nigeria tech ecosystem. 'Bosun Tijani Femi Longe Mark Essien Oo Nwoye Bankole Oluwafemi Seyi Taylor Oluseun Onigbinde Adewale Yusuf Sherrif Shittu

Tolu Adedayo