Yabacon Valley

Yabacon Valley (YV) is a nickname for an area within Yaba. Yaba is a suburb of Lagos, Nigeria and located at the mainland of the Lagos. This area is already growing as Nigeria’s technology hub and cluster of hundreds of banking institutions, educational institutions, technology and startup companies which steadily attracts angel investors, venture capitalists, enthusiasts and media people from all over the world. This cluster is the major reason many technology firms are considering opening up shops in Yaba.[1] Close to the region is the Lagos Lagoon which lies on its south-western side, it empties into the Atlantic via Lagos Harbor, a main channel through the heart of the city, 0.5 km to 1 km wide and 10 km long. The term originally was born from an unintentional act of an absent mind, manipulating the Silicon Valley name to create a nick version for this cluster while writing a story title.[2] More so, due to the lagoon near this region, the term Silicon lagoon has also been used to refer to this cluster although this is yet to stick and its origin or creator is unknown.

Regardless of the tech clusters in Africa, Yabacon Valley (YV) or Silicon lagoon — whichever name you chose to call it — continues to be a hub for high-tech innovation and development, buoyed by the country’s budding, technology-savvy middle-class and massive online population of 126 million internet users. Nigeria’s fledgling technology start-up scene is witnessing a flurry of activities in the frame of new investment drive, acquisitions, strategic partnerships as well as plans to establish more incubation centers.[3]

Geographically, Yabacon Valley encompasses all Yaba Local Council Development area which was carved out of the old Lagos Mainland Local Government created in 1977 as a separate local government following the national reform of Local government in September 1976. The Lagos Mainland carved out of Lagos city council which administered the Lagos Metropolitan city consists of Lagos Island and Lagos Mainland. So with the creation of three more Local government on 27 August 1991, the former Lagos mainland was re-constituted with Surulere carved out of it. The present Yaba Local Council Development Area has the look of an urban setting; some areas however mirror rural features and these areas are simply referred to as blighted areas like Makoko and Iwaya. Nonetheless, Yabacon Valley is a development, a commercial nerve center for all regardless of their political and cultural affiliations.

Origin of termEdit

Yabacon is a portmanteau of ‘Yaba’ the Lagos suburb and ‘Silicon’, a chemical element used to create most semiconductors commercially for electronic computers. Although there are technology companies in this area, there are no companies involved in the making of semiconductors since the cluster is still at its green stage and Nigeria is yet to advance to the technology level of manufacturing electronics. Thus, the name is just a sheer but unconscious imitation of America's Silicon valley.

It is not known if the term Yabacon Valley has been mentioned or used in reference of this tech cluster in the past, but its first published use is credited to The Business Aim. According to Google search results, the name was first used by Blaise Aboh as part of a title for an article on a new technology startup.[4] The term is still not widely known however it is been used in conversations among the geeks, players and enthusiasts in the tech ecosystem especially on technology focused blogs and social media.

The emergence of Yaba as a startup clusterEdit

In 2011, Wennovation Hub in partnership with African Leadership Forum started incubating startups in the tech ecosystem but was not popular until 2012 when Bosun Tijani and colleagues changed the name to Cc-HUB, and it became Nigeria’s first startup incubator. With investment and support from organisations such as the Indigo Trust, Omidyar Network, MainOne Cable Company and the Lagos State government, it soon gained momentum and proceeded to install a fibre-optic-powered information superhighway. In 2011, former banker Seun Onigbinde co-founded BudgIT, a fiscal transparency project, on the third floor of CC Hub’s six-storey building in Yaba. As one of the first early-stage startups to benefit from CC Hub’s incubation drive in 2011, it received $5,000 of its $90,000 seed funding from billionaire businessman Tony Elumelu. Big names like Konga, eCommerce company valued at approximately $200 million as after raising $20 million in Series C rounds, arrived in 2013, while Africa Internet Group which has $469 million in 4 Rounds from six investors transferred six of its companies to Yaba in 2014. In same 2014 BudgIT received $400,000 grant from Omidyar. Mid 2016, Andela – a Nigerian-founded talent accelerator for programmers that has campuses in Lagos, Nairobi and New York – received $24 million in investment from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. In 2015, Hotels.ng, a hotel booking site in Nigeria secured $1.2 million in funding from Omidyar Network to expand its listings across Africa.

A number of startups including Iroko – a digital retailer of Nollywood worldwide with total funding of $40 million – and Paystack, an alternative e-payments company which raised $1.3 million investment in December 2016 from international investors Tencent, Comcast Ventures and more, have offices outside the cluster but still relate with those from Yabacon Valley.

Visit by Mark ZuckerbergEdit

In August 2016, Mark Zuckerberg visited Nigeria, and specifically Yaba. A day after Zuckerberg's visit to Yaba, local and international media went agog as to why Yaba is 'Nigeria's Silicon Valley'.[5] In Zuckerberg’s first visit to Africa, his first stop was at Co-Creation Hub (CcHub) in Yaba, Lagos, ground zero for start-ups in order to listen, learn and take ideas back to California on how Facebook can better support tech development and entrepreneurship across Africa. In a Facebook post he said; "the energy here is amazing and I’m excited to learn as much as I can, I’m looking forward to meeting more people in Nigeria" after he met and interacted with kids at a summer coding camp in CCHub, developers and entrepreneurs in the startup ecosystem in Nigeria. He then went to Andela where the Chan Zuckerberg foundation had made an investment months earlier. The visit was part of a series of global town hall meetings.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Ben, Uzo Jr. "Yaba to become Africa's Silicon Valley". BusinessDay.
  2. ^ [1] from thebusinessaim.com.ng
  3. ^ Ben, Uzo Jr. "Venture capitalists Propel Nigeria's tech start-ups". BusinessDay.
  4. ^ TBA (30 May 2017). "Passion Incubator Opens Shop At Yabacon Valley To Accelerate Startups". Thebusinessaim. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  5. ^ "VIDEO: Zuckerberg walks on the streets of Yaba". TheCable. 31 August 2016. Retrieved 31 January 2021.

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