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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 leading hub for high-tech innovation and development, buoyed by the country’s budding, technology-savvy middle-class and massive online population of 45 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 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.

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Origin of termEdit

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, an online publishing platform with focus on business, strategy, innovation, startup culture and everything new. According to Google search results, the name was first used by Blaise Aboh, then an award-winning editor, now Data Analysis/Design Lead and Founding Partner at Orodata Science Nigeria a Civic technology organization as part of a title for an article on reasons for the arrival of startup accelerators, and also to announce the emergence of a new player named Passion Incubator in Yaba technology ecosystem. The article is dated 13 March 2014.[2] 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. There's still controversy surrounding the name, arguments and comments made on article a popular Nigerian technology blog Techcabal confirms this as few are disgruntled and think a better nickname can be created. They feel the name ought to be something else without the ‘con’ and the ‘valley’ arguing why Nigeria must mimic the west in almost everything. But there are many who actually like the name. Weekly in conversations, this name pops up and there are those who are of the opinion that if the name is disliked so much, it should not be brought up regularly.[4]

Late 2015, a tech blog's community post declared Yabacon Valley is dead. Long live Yaba Right'. The conversation was about how the name Yabacon Valley was not a good branding of the tech cluster, and why other suggestions like 'Yaba Right' or 'Yaba District' or even 'Silicon Yaba' were more suitable names. The Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN) a social enterprise, Gbenga Sesan in a comment said that 'If something wasn't broken, why fix it'? That the whole thing was but a fruitless argument. He was of the opinion that when the time was right, the right name would come, that 'instead of looking for a new name by all means, let all cities focus on real work without assumptions'. It must be noted that one person alone does not have the power to name a country, let alone a district. It comes from careful or careless deliberations, negotiation, discuss, or in the case of YV; incessant community debates and arguments over its origin, originality and suitability.

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. The name Yabacon Valley (YV) is alive although proclaimed dead because the Yaba technology community made it a continuous topic of discussion on blogs, social media and community posts. The name was an ordinary creation of a creative writer while penning the title of an article. The tech community made it the monster it is today.

DemographicsEdit

The population of Yabacon Valley is between 200 and 300 thousand approximately. It is assumed that females outnumber males in the majority of the localities in Yabacon Valley due to concentration of tertiary institutions in the area.

BoundariesEdit

North of this area is Shiro Street down to other side of Morocco road towards the roundabout. This also includes Abule- Ijesha South - Muritala Muhammed way from Jibowu to Wright street junction. To the East is the Lagos lagoon, Onike, Onitiri, Makoko, Iwaya, University of Lagos communities also overlooking lagoon. To the West; a descent of 3rd mainland bridge to Wright Street to Murtala Muhammed way to include Total services station at that junction.

HistoryEdit

Yaba is a part of Lagos Nigeria with many small towns and communities such as Onyigbo, Ebute metta, Makoko, Sabo, Akoka, Abule Ijesha, Onike, Jibowu, and Iwaya among others.

Yaba Local council development area as it is today has its secretariat at 198, Herbert Macaulay Street, carved out of the old Lagos Mainland local government which was created in 1977 as a separate Local government following the national reform of Local government in September 1976. Lagos Mainland carved out of Lagos city council which administered the Lagos Metropolitan city; this 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. Yaba Local council Development area as one of the Thirty Seven (37) newly created Local council Development areas was created out of Lagos Mainland by the administration of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu after the state assembly passed a law creating new local council Development areas. The present Yaba local council area wears an urban setting; some part however mirrored rural features and these areas are simply referred to as blighted areas like Makoko and Iwaya. Nonetheless, Yaba Local council development area is the commercial nerve centre for all regardless of their political and cultural affiliations.

"Perhaps the strongest push responsible for this industrial powerhouse and cluster is the increase in demand of products leveraging technology for growth".

Presence of leading institutions of higher learningEdit

Yabacon valley has two of Nigeria’s leading educational institutions in Yaba College of Technology (Yabatech) and University of Lagos. Both higher institutions are known to be of higher learning standards and have some of the country’s best brains as lecturers. There of course are the less seasoned institutions which are prestigious in their own right – the federal technical college Akoka (a teacher training institute) and Queens’ college one of Africa’s best post primary educational institutions. Historical significance, landmarks and memorials. Yaba also has notable landmarks like the statue of Herbert Macaulay the father of nationalism in Nigeria. Many other landmarks such as Tejuosho Market, E-center, National library of Nigeria, Yabatech among other notable landmarks there are also historically significant landmarks, such as the tallest building on the mainland Corner stone house, the first filling station in Nigeria - (Total at Sabo) and many more.

An expanding middle classEdit

Yaba has one of the fastest expanding middle class groups in Nigeria as a whole. This is why developers fall over themselves to renovate old buildings or expand them out rightly to create apartments for working class folks. Real estate boom is in no small way an issue to consider when middle-class families demand for accommodation.

Reduced crime rateEdit

Crime rate in most parts of yaba is low. Perhaps the heavy presence of security details around the place deters criminals or could be that the ever busy nature of the place seems to inconvenience criminals. Also there is the possibility that many so called criminals may consider productive work readily available for idle hands to be more rewarding whatever the case crime rate is relatively low.

Nearness to the islandEdit

Lagos island is the nerve center of commerce and the service based industry in Nigeria as a whole. Living in Yaba keeps you close to the Victoria island, Ikoyi and Lekki and thereby reduces your transportation expenses, stress due to heavy traffic jams which has found common place in these aforementioned areas.

Rapid economic expansionEdit

The local economy in this part of Lagos is rapidly expanding. Eateries, banks, hotels, retail stores, insurance companies, night clubs are booming implying a lot of opportunities both for investors and employment seekers. The expansion of this area is rapid and many companies are setting up so as to not miss out of its financial benefits.

The birth and thrive of a startup clusterEdit

In 2011, Wennovation Hub in partnership with African Leadership Forum started incubating startups in the tech ecosystem but not much noise was made till 2012 when Bosun Tijani a social innovator & entrepreneur and a group of individuals set out to help animate a community of change agents who believe in building a strong base for Nigeria through technology. They were certain they could help accelerate a movement of people who are driven by the need to disrupt the status quo in Nigeria through smart application of technology. The name was later changed to Cc-HUB, and it became Nigeria’s first startup incubator. With investment and support in cash and kind 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, which claims to be the largest 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 – the biggest 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 intermingle with those from Yabacon Valley.

The coming of Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founderEdit

A day after Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, a social media company with $350 billion market valuation walked on the streets of Yaba in Lagos Nigeria, local and international media went agog as to why Yaba is 'Nigeria's Silicon Valley' after all. 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. Then he went to Andela where his wife foundation Chan Zuckerberg foundation had made an investment months back. 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. ^ a b [1] from thebusinessaim.com.ng
  3. ^ Ben, Uzo Jr. "Venture capitalists Propel Nigeria's tech start-ups". BusinessDay.
  4. ^ [2] from techcabal.com

External linksEdit