Why African Technology Innovation Scene Is Not Creating Growth

Osaretin Guobadia, Benin, Renaissance Capital, Neo Ighodaro, Nigeria

Osaretin Guobadia decided to leave his banking job with Goldman Sachs investment to come back to Benin. He wanted to bring change in the country. Currently, Guobadia is working with Renaissance Capital. Furthermore, he is running DBH an infrastructure company in Benin. Guobadia is connected to Edo State and is passionate about changing the phase of the state. His major areas of improvement are technology and innovation.

Guobadia and his cousin had a plan of opening an innovation hub.  They also planned to start up a co-working space for technology people in their hometown in Benin City. Because of the excitement, his cousin went ahead and registered domain Guobadia on the other side started doing designs for the location. Moreover, he was already planning to channel some resources into the plan. But all this were the normal traps that they were falling into. Such like traps are common with the African innovation support activities. Many people make clinched assumption not backed with any facts or data. They only use that to execute their moves based on the assumptions.

His cousin later decided to carry out a web research. He happened to discover StartupGrind technology community in Benin. The community is under the support of Google for Entrepreneurs. Since then he has been a staunch online follower of the community. He then decided to base any of their activities in Benin on the community’s way of operations.  The processes they took with Benin Hub forced them to question the basis for the creation and proliferation of physical spaces for innovation communities across Africa. Furthermore, Neo Ighodaro the CTO of raised a complaint on Twitter. He complained about the difficulty to hold events in the spaces.

A few people questioned how successful most physical spaces around Africa have been. This is mostly on propagating and assumption of innovative activities. The default assumption has always been that both the two are needed. But that is not the case. Most Africans tend to sale the dream of innovation the same way real estate developers sell off-plan housing developments. They first build models. After that, they set up a show house where they pitch to prospective buyers. The African problem is that people have been changing the designs of these showpieces and moving furniture around. However, they have never completed the housing developments. Africans have been in the business of showing real estate ideas. But they do not complete the projects.

Innovation communities are not about the real estate. But they are about the people and how they work together to create value. Spaces are useful, but they are not enough. Africans should be asking themselves serious questions. This is after years of the existence of these spaces. People should also learn to have dynamic ideas. Most of the African startups depend majorly on ideas from Silicon Valley. But they do not operate the same way Silicon Valley operates.  People should think outside the education, agriculture, e-commerce or payments.


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Written by Denis Opudo

Am an engineer who's a tech blogger, hit me up on [email protected] and we base our discussion on technology in Africa and the rest of the world.
Denis the Tech guru

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