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Edo records tech startups surge, readies to dominate $6.6bn Africa’s startup ecosystem

…as govt focuses on investment in digital infrastructure

Edo State is recording an exponential rise in the number of tech startups and a boom in entrepreneurial activities on the back of investment in digital infrastructure, as well as reforms to guarantee the growth of businesses in the state by the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration.

With the surge, the state is being repositioned to become the leading startup ecosystem on the African continent, ready to contribute its fair share to the $6.6 billion Africa’s startup ecosystem.

The growth is hinged on the government’s commitment to utilise technology to facilitate economic growth and development, leveraging the state’s youthful population.

The Obaseki-led administration is pursuing nuanced policies to place the state as Africa’s digital hub, expanding internet access, providing digital infrastructure, and ensuring a conducive environment for tech entrepreneurs to drive the state’s digital economy.

The state government, in partnership with leading global tech giants, including MainOne, Facebook and Global Independent Connect Limited (GICL), among others has laid at least 400km fibre optic internet infrastructure (250 miles), aimed at boosting internet connectivity and providing the needed support to grow the tech ecosystem, including technology hubs and parks in the state.

On the back of these investments, The Guardian UK, in a recent report, acknowledged the surge of startups into the state, noting that the government is committed “to building business and technology hubs, expanding internet access for entrepreneurs, tech workers, government agencies and schools.”

The UK-based news platform quoted Stephen Osawaru, a 38-year-old entrepreneur and business consultant in Benin City, as saying, “Many internet businesses in education, agriculture, health and finance that didn’t exist five years ago have now taken advantage of the connectivity in Edo.”

“The internet is better and cheaper than it was five years ago; internet penetration is growing at an exponential rate and creating more opportunities,” Osawaru, who works with a network of more than 300 startups in the state, added.

On her part, the Founder of MainOne, Funke Opeke, described the public-private partnerships in Edo as “a model” for how internet access in Nigeria can be rapidly increased.

According to Obaseki, “In Edo State, we are focused on 12 thematic areas, which include reforms of government structure, making government the enabler in the society, creating a citizen-centric leadership structure, and utilising technology and data to drive governance. We are also ensuring that the government focuses on sustainable economic growth and building the physical and digital infrastructure that we require for our growth.”