Start-ups: Africa gets $1bn boost as Timbuktoo fintech hub debuts in Lagos, Nigeria

Start-ups: Africa gets bn boost as Timbuktoo fintech hub debuts in Lagos, Nigeria
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The plan by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), African governments and the private sector to raise $1 billion for start-up innovation on the continent received a boost yesterday with the unveiling of Timbuktoo fintech hub in Nigeria.

Located in the commercial city Lagos, the hub being spearheaded by the UNDP, is the first of a series of technology centers planned for 13 African countries, including Kigali, Cairo, Cape Town, Accra, Casablanca, Dakar, and Nairobi.

Speaking during the unveiling of the centre, ex-Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo highlighted the potential of Africa’s young population to drive innovation and economic progress.

Osinbajo said Nigerian unicorns like Flutterwave and Interswitch were founded by entrepreneurs under 30, showcasing the region’s capacity for technological advancement and prosperity despite the unemployment statistics sitting around 50 percent.

“In recent times, we have seen the dramatic proof of the power of innovation to bring amazing prosperity. In Nigeria we have at least five unicorns including Flutterwave valued at over $3 billion today, Interswitch, over $1 billion, Opay valued at $2 billion among others,” he pointed out.

“All the founders of these unicorns were below 30 years. You can imagine what we are going to see in the coming years. It is this energy, the spirit of innovation, that will power Nigeria and the Africa of our dreams. This is why the vision, “Timbuktoo”, is vital for the continent’s innovation system.

“We will have 13 unicorn hubs all in universities of different countries and 8-9 innovation hubs scattered across the continent. Hence the Lagos fintech hub is one hub that will create job opportunities and this will go a long way to reducing the unemployment rate,” Osinbajo noted.

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The former Vice President observed that Africa is really bursting with young talents and expressed confidence that the talents will be phenomenal in driving growth and innovation in the continent.

Representing Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Commissioner of Innovation, Science, and Technology, Olatunbosun Alake underscored the importance of collaboration between the government and policy makers.

“Innovation cannot happen without government support. The Lagos State Government has been a pivotal part of this development, providing robust infrastructure and fostering an environment conducive to innovation.

“We will engage with lawmakers and policy makers to drive positive policy outflows to further enhance and sustain this transformative journey. The creation of this fintech hub is in line with the Federal Government’s quest to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030,” he said.

UNDP Resident Representative, Elsie Attafuah also underscored the significance of the moment: “We are here to witness the birth of a new era in innovation and financial inclusion positioning Lagos as “the fintech capital of Africa.”

UN Assistant-Secretary General and Director of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Africa, Ahunna Eziakonwa said Timbuktoo aims to reshape market forces to favour impactful investments, adding that the program can prevent conflicts and foster economic growth through innovation.

Start-ups: Africa gets $1bn boost as Timbuktoo fintech hub debuts in Lagos, Nigeria

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