The Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, on Wednesday said plans are afoot to transform the Sabo Industrial Estate in Yaba area of the State to a technology hub and another Silicon Valley where a new set of entrepreneurs and innovators will be raised to address the challenges confronting the nation in the Information and Communication Technology sector.
Silicon Valley, which is in San Francisco Bay Area of California, United States, is home to many of the world’s largest high-tech corporations and thousands of startup companies.
Governor Ambode, who spoke during an extensive inspection tour across the State, said the government will actualize the plan of transforming Sabo to the new hub for technology in 2017 and assist the already established technology incubators in the area to achieve their full potentials.
Some of the technology outfits visited in the area by the Governor included Ardela, IDEA and CC Hub.
The Governor, who was joined on the inspection by top government functionaries and former Minister of Communications and Technology, Omobola Johnson, said the government was desirous of assisting entrepreneurs in the ICT sector to become good startups, adding that his administration would explore all the available initiatives in that regard.
He said to start with, entrepreneurs in the sector would be allowed to access the N25 billion Employment Trust Fund, which is an initiative of his administration, to grow their businesses as well as other interventions from the State’s Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment.
He said: “I decided to come here just for me to feel the state of things and to learn about your challenges.
“Our government is seriously committed to assisting entrepreneurs like the ones here to be able to be good startups.
“I want to also say that we will use our Employment Trust Fund to support this concept here.”
The Governor said one of the factors considered when the government was setting up the ETF was the need to set up incubators, but with the progress made in that regard by the private sector, the government would now only build on the existing technology incubators.
He added: “All we need to do is to now send people here and also support by way of infrastructure to scale up this place and others like this that can help in churning out more people.
“Our aim is to create an enabling environment for our youth to thrive, to be more creative and enterprising.
“We so much believe in innovation and creativity.
“We strongly believe that youths are the ones that can take us out of this economic recession and the truth is that we must create an enabling environment for our youths to optimally utilise their talents.
“You can recall that throughout my campaign, I promised to use tourism, hospitality and entertainment to create employment and jobs for our youths.
“This is the fundamental basis our government is built upon.
“The whole idea is that these young ones here should not just leave this place and go back to where they started from.
“I think that value chain is what we as the government must tap into and then we would be able to move this nation forward.
“I believe strongly that the youths are the future of this country and we need to pay greater attention to everything that they are doing and I also believe strongly that technology is the key that we are going to use to grow this economy.”
Ambode said the government would explore the possibility of addressing the power challenges confronting the area, especially by linking the estate to the Mainland Independent Power Project.
In her remarks, Johnson commended the initiative of Ambode on the plan to scale up the industrial park in Sabo, saying that the development signalled a new beginning for the technology sector.
Speaking at Ladipo Market where he was received by hundreds of traders amidst pump and pageantry, Ambode said from next month, his administration will commence construction of Alhaji Akinwunmi Street and Ladipo Street, as well as Obagun Avenue, off Fatai Atere Road.
He also said that a multi-layer car park will be constructed to address the chaos in the area in terms of parking of vehicles, but solicited the cooperation of the traders and residents of the area, adding that government would organise a stakeholders’ meeting to discuss modalities for the construction.