December 11, 2019

Smart City: Why Lagos released N250m to tech innovators

Smart City: Why Lagos released N250m to tech innovators

By Juliet Umeh

Technology rules the world. In fact, it has become the bedrock of social integration and harmony. This is mainly because of its multiple applications to solve or enhance the art of living itself.  Those applications have the wherewithal to redefine the way people live and think.

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That is why smart economies are leveraging on its capabilities to address their challenges, build wealth and deliver good life to the people.

Apparently, that could also be why Lagos state, in its quest to become one of the prominent mega cities in the world, has opted for technology as a vehicle.

In landmass, Lagos is apparently, the smallest state in Nigeria. However, it accommodates about 22 million people.  Its socioeconomic importance transcends Nigeria as it’s easily regarded as the Economic hub of West African States, with a GDP of $136 million.

Even with these feats, there are still intractable challenges the State is inundated with. Issues of administration and management of integrated and intermodal transportation to ease movement of human and material assets, access to human capital development through quality education, promotion of entertainment, arts and culture as socioeconomic enterprise.

The state, has however, said it recognises that technology is the fastest vehicle to drive aspirations. It believes that there must be engagement between the technology ecosystem and the state government, to address these issues. There’s also need to develop local technology which is currently put at about one percent in the state even though the government has set growth of 10 percent consumption scale with the next one year.

In line with that vision, the state recently released access fund of up to N250 million to uplift innovative tech start-ups that will farm out tech solutions to catapult the state to global reckon.

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The state said without intervention and support to young innovators that can develop local technology to solve local problems, its ambition of attaining a mega city may be far-fetched.

At a recent premier engagement conference, Art of Technology Lagos 1.0, where the governor announced the funding, no fewer than 1,500 young innovators and tech solution developers participated. They were excited that aid was coming their way, but the state knows that the money can help the start ups build artificial intelligence solutions which can help the state predict movement of human and material resources to reverse the environmental degradation currently affecting it

Lagos State governor, Mr. Babajide  Sanwo-Olu, while announcing the capital funding, revealed the fund is targeted at tech innovators, tech start-ups and young innovators in the State. He stated that the fund is primarily tasked with investment in research and development in science and technology across different thematic areas in the state.

He also said they can access the fund through the Lagos State Science Research and Innovation Council, LASRIC, headed by the Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, UNILAG, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe.

The governor was optimistic that the seed fund will trigger local technology that will offer solutions to overwhelming issues faced by the state while regretting a wide gap that exists between Lagos and the tech community. But he believed that the pool of fund was a strategic way of bridging the gap.

Sanwo-Olu said: “There is no gainsaying the fact that any society that wants to be reckoned with, on the global stage, must be grounded in the application of technology.

“Our administration will continue to provide opportunities that ease the way of doing business in Lagos State, for local and foreign investors to leverage on. There are huge potentials still available in the tourism and recreation sectors,” he added.

The convener and Special Adviser to the Governor on Innovation and Technology, Olatunbosun Alake, said the event had the objective to bridge the gap between governance and innovation.

He said the Government and private sector could no longer afford to work in silos, stressing that the public and private sectors must co-create to key into the future.

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Also, Commissioner for Science and Technology, Mr. Hakeem Fahm, observed that Lagos Government had started to look into the future by “thinking Smart” and using technology as an enabler to realise Smart City status.