#YNaija2013Review: The 10 most remarkable things that happened in Nigeria’s tech ecosystem

by Nubi Kay

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Thanks to Nokia, Samsung, and most especially Tecno, Nigerians can afford to own a smartphone. These gadgets were out of reach only in 2012, but 2013 saw the arrival of Nokia Asha and Lumia series, as well as the Samsung Galaxy Duos, and Tecno Phantoms, with a N15,000 to N45,000 range.

1. SPARK – Startups, Valuation, Funding, and Saga
2013 saw the launch of Spark, an initiative defined by co-founder, Jason Njoku of iROKO Partners as a business that build companies. With start-ups like ToLet.ng, Bus.ng, Drinks.ng, setting out, and others like Hotels.ng, Giddimint, and Kuluya Games joining the network of companies, Spark has indeed taken the whole idea of business incubator to a whole new level in Nigeria, providing it’s businesses with working space, $1m funding, and the press network iROKO enjoys.
It has not been all been rosy with Spark as it has also been laced with news of mass firing, in-house dispute, and acquisition-gone-bad. However, 2013 did get Sparked by this venture as people are now in the spirit of GettingShitDone.ng. *pun intended*
2. Arrival of the TechCabal 
Online and offline conversation in the local tech ecosystem took a whole new turn with the launch of TechCabal. The convener, Bankole Oluwafemi popular known by his twitter handle @MrBankole has done a great job. Taking on the trending term “cabal” in the political arena, the platform brings together tech veterans, enthusiast, and other players with online content and offline events – Tech Cabal Sessions, which featured Tayo Oviosu of Paga in its maiden edition. Bigger things are expected of Big Cabal, the parent company having recently acquired OTEKBITS, to add to its web asset along side Republica, and gearing for a relaunch in 2014.
3. The Future Awards for African Tech
Described as the Nobel Prize for young people by the World Bank, The Future Awards Africa is arguably the most prestigious award recognizing the African youth. 2013 did see more recognition given to youths in the technology sector, and winners included Hugo Obi of Maliyo Games, the Jobberman Trio, and Kingsley Ezeani of Information Nigeria. It is interesting to note that the 2013 edition of the awards had the most number of categories related to technology in its 8 years of running. This sure goes to show young people are making commendable ventures in the area of science and technology.
4. More Incubators and Co-Working Spaces
2013 saw the addition of new incubators and co-working spaces. The iDEA hub launched in Lagos and Calabar, while Audax, Startuphub, and Capital square launched on the island of Lagos for technology and business entrepreneurs. iBrigde Hub got down to business in Ibadan, and another hub opened shop at Ekiti. With the success stories coming out of the Co-Creation Hub, Veneer Hub, and Wennovation hub, no doubt the same will soon be heard of these newly launched hubs.
5. Walking with Giants
One thing founders, and entrepreneurs should make an habit of is collaborating smartly with bigger players. However the giants have to be willing to work with the little people first, and a lot of that happened in 2013. Telecom giants  MTN came close to the developer community and ran a 16-week app challenge in collaboration with the Co-Creation Hub. OEMs like Samsung, Nokia, and Tecno also ran developer competitions, trainings, and other projects. The Tony Elumelu Foundation offered seed funding to a good number of startups, and other companies like Qualcomm, Visa, and the Federal Government (Ministry of Communication and Technology) got into the trenches to work with local developers in hacking social products and services.
6. Startups –  Fly, Pivot, or Crash
Having mentioned that 2012 saw the launch of sooooo many startups, 2013 did see some fly, pivot, and others crash. This is no anomaly in the tech space anywhere in the world. Due to factors like team, product offering, quality, funding, scaling, and market forces, startups need to adapt or die. 2013 saw startups like Paga, and Jobberman fly with increase market size, revenue, and funding, TaxiPark had to pivot to Tranzit, and Tiketmobile had to close shop for reasons between funding, and product offering.  Perhaps growth hackers will be welcomed in 2014.
7. Rocket Internet blazes on
How can we talk about 2013 without mentioning Rocket Internet? This name probably made the headlines more than any other in the course of the year, and for various reasons. The most recent is the exit of the two African co-founders of Jumia. Other buzz worthy moments include the partnership with MTN (investing about N65Bn) along side Millicom, and new ventures such as Easy Taxi, Hello Food, Carmido, Varmido, and others that may not be known to you and me.
8. Getting Funded by Angel Investors and VCs
One of the biggest issues of 2012 was funding. Not to say the problem is over in 2013, but it can be said that solutions are now available to founders, entrepreneurs, and startups looking for seed and growth funding.
The Angel investors arrived with the launch of the Lagos Angel Network with Tomie Davis of Technovision as convener. Venture Capitalist firms like Intel Capital, Echo VC, Tiger, Adlevo, among others are also actively engaging in funding startups and business in Nigeria. Rancard recently raised a 2nd round, Jobberman is said to have raised a 3rd round, and iROKOtv recently raised an $8m 4th round.
9. Cracking The Code of Digital Content Distribution
Lots of players are taking a jab at digital content distribution in Africa, and Nigeria is at the forefront with players like Orin.io, Freeme Digital, MyMusic, iROKING, DoBox, NextSpeel, iROKOtv, Spinlet, BattaBox etc. With the value of local content – videos, film, music videos, movies – on the rise, as well as demand locally and in diaspora, 2013 did see a lot of work go into working out a profitable way of producing, and distributing these content. So far, some have started raising revenue, others are focused on the how-to models of delivery, but no one is profitable yet, so let’s see what 2014 has in store.
10. Gadgets – Smart Just Got Cheaper
Thanks to Nokia, Samsung, and most especially Tecno, Nigerians can afford to own a smartphone. These gadgets were out of reach only in 2012, but 2013 saw the arrival of Nokia Asha and Lumia series, as well as the Samsung Galaxy Duos, and Tecno Phantoms, with a N15,000 to N45,000 range. Staying connected also got cheaper as telecos – MTN, Airtel, and Glo stayed competitive by releasing affordable data plans and bundles. No doubt more Nigerians are now connect to the internet via mobile phones that offer rich experiences.

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Comments (2)

  1. Konga was not mentioned. Arguably one of Nigeria's largest online store.

  2. thank you for this insightful acticle. I quite appreciate the fact that technology and its experiences has greatly improved and more people are participating in Nigeria both in the area of funding and software development. Also, more people are now connected to the internet as a result of the availability of affordable smartphones. However, the cost of internet connection and data usage is still very expensive in the country. I think it can still be cheaper than it is now. Thank you so much.

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