In 2010, a group of young people came together under the umbrella of what was known as the Google Technology User Groups (GTUG) in Uyo. The nascent community was led by Mr. Hanson Johnson and the first meetup took place at a small room at EEMJM hotel along Dominic Utuk Avenue in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State Capital.
GTUG as it was known gave young people the opportunity to learn about the various tools provided by the owners of the World’s biggest Search Engine (Google). However, the group was renamed Google Developer Groups (GDG) by the company where Mr. Hanson Johnson is currently playing the role of a Country Mentor in the Nigeria Ecosystem.
Worthy of note is the fact that the initial coming together to learn more about Tech has gradually snowballed into the emergence of some tech companies and hubs within the ecosystem. The center initially being Uyo. Today, the vision has expanded to cover other Local Government Areas like Eket, Oron and Ikot Ekpene.
This extensive collaboration has attracted key players within and outside the ecosystem who are representatives of big brands like Google, Facebook and successful tech entrepreneurs like Mark Essien of hotels.ng.
Presently, Uyo alone is the home to 3 successful hubs and has seen over 3000 young people embracing tech as a career.
The entrance of the Roothub brothers – Francis and Tony Onuk have also brought a significant impact in the Akwa Ibom tech ecosystem. Located at a strategic position along IBB way the Roothub offers young people the opportunity to learn and get deeper insights into graphics and web design.
We cannot forget Samuel Ogu of Codekago whose impact in the ecosystem through digital marketing and web development has helped shape the future of the Akwa Ibom tech ecosystem.
In all we can say today, Akwa Ibom State is actually at the verge of reaching that dream of becoming the ‘major industrial hub in West Africa’.
Recall in December 2017, Techpoint Africa published an article “Beyond its nascent talent, Uyo could be the trailblazer of a well-structured tech scene in Nigeria”.
This is so true today judging the current trend in the ecosystem. Though the nascent ecosystem is still plagued with a couple of challenges there seems to be a great hope at the end of the dark tunnel.
Satellite towns like Ikot Ekpene, Eket, Oron, etc. are not left out in this technological revolution. Beyond the hubs, young people now learn various skills individually using various online tools adding value to the ecosystem.
One thing seemed to be the bane of this dream. Funding! Evolving from a completely naïve environment, developers are forced to prove their worth to prospective clients by providing solutions at the most minimal cost hence having to struggle for a longer period before being able to build and market their own ideas. This has led to the snail speed development rate witnessed within the ecosystem. Infact, most credible ideas have died off at birth due to lack of funding.
Identifying these lapses, the Inoyo Toro Foundation has graciously stepped in to see how the organisation could partner with technopreneurs within the Akwa Ibom Tech ecosystem to bring the needed succor in the area of funding,
Worthy of note is the fact that the Inoyo Toro foundation was founded in 2007 towards the training and empowerment of teachers and the promotion of educational content across Akwa Ibom State. This drive is therefore seen as setting an overall impact on the development of the Akwa Ibom youth to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Tech and the development of the necessary parameters that will guarantee sustainable economic growth in the industry falls within the area of training and re-training of the Akwa Ibom youth as enshrined in the philosophy of the Inoyo Toro foundation.
The Akwa Ibom Tech Week 2021 marked the commencement of that partnership between the tech ecosystem and the foundation. In his opening address, the convener, Mr. Hanson Johnson noted the gradual evolution and progress in the ecosystem and is optimistic that with the intervention of the foundation in the area of capacity building and funding, challenges associated with starting up will be reduced.
In his keynote address, the adviser of the foundation, Mr. Udom Inoyo noted that all tech enthusiasts seated in the over 1,500 capacity event center – filled to the brim with social distancing, held “the key to unlocking the economy of our dear State”.
He noted that tech was the next oil as electric cars and solar systems are gradually gaining traction in some economies in global space. Determined to pursue the course of the techies to a logical conclusion he said “when all the recommendations are unveiled, you will be glad that you are a part of the ecosystem”.
It is unfortunate that billions of dollars are budgeted yearly to the development of tech communities and ecosystems in Africa but Akwa Ibom has been at the bottom of this advantage. This collaboration among tech hubs in the state will therefore foster a relationship that will fire the tech ecosystem in the state to take advantage of such funding whenever they are available.
Various speakers at the event encouraged youths in the State to embrace tech and called on authorities to take a cue from the Inoyo Toro foundation by forming the needed partnership and collaborations with the tech ecosystem in the State. Indeed the next oil has just been unveiled in Akwa Ibom State.
Are you looking for a hub to get the basic skills in tech? Read this article.