Which way for Yaba (left or right?) — An Open Letter to Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode

by | Mar 13, 2017

At about 8:02 PM on Sunday, sitting at the penthouse of the Asuqu HQ located in Alagomeji Yaba, with a cup of Cappuccino from Neo Café and a copy of Richard Templar’s Rules of Management, I was pondering over what could become of Lagos, if only it were a country.

With a population of more than 25 million people — twice the population of Rwanda and half the population of South Africa — and a staggering GDP, 90% more than the entire GDP of The Gambia, what could become of a state with impressive growth and no limitation from external forces (a call for ‘Lagxit’ perhaps?).

The roads are beginning to connect themselves coupled with growing clean and efficient transport system (a reminder to Rasheed the Danfo driver) and plans to generate power supply enough to run for 24 hours and cater for the entire state.

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However, I have a question Mr. Governor, what’s happening to Yaba? What do you see in Yaba? What plan do you have for the 1k+ tech entrepreneurs resident here? Yaba is not just one of the local governments of the 52 in Lagos. This is your baby local government.


Suggested ReadGovernor Ambode promises steady electricity and grants to Yaba startups.


These are the people championing the face of your state attracting tech giants all over the world, with the recent visit of Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and a previous visit by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

Zuckerberg arriving Andela

Mark Zuckerberg walks the streets of Yaba

Present day Yaba continues to see increase in development, with startups rising, old houses being sold and renovated to become modern office spaces to cater for the increasing demand.

I decided to do a rough statistics of this suburb community.

Incubators/Co-working spaces

Between CcHub, Leadspace, iDEA Hub and Litcaf, we could get a rough estimate of 20 startups combined doing real stuff. Assuming each startup has a team of 5 minimum, that would amount to a rough estimate of 100 employees combined.

Startups

We have Jumia Group of companies with a rough estimate of 2000+ employees. Also Andela, Hotels.ng, Asuqu, CashEnvoy et al to mention a few.

Between them, we could have a rough estimate of more than 3000 employees combined (not sure). I can comfortably argue that the Yaba tech community has provided more than 5k jobs. That’s 7.5% of the total population of Seychelles.

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One starts to think about the future of the tech ecosystem and the future of our dear budding entrepreneurs in this community. Which way for Yaba Mr. Governor? Should we exit the local government of the state? Or shall we ask? How much has the tech ecosystem contributed to the GDP of Lagos to make this move?

The point on here is, there’s not so much contribution to help this vibrant community. I can bet the local government chairman doesn’t even know the potentials surrounding him/her.

Costs

The nightmare that kills startups; the rise of running costs that could be put to better use. Unlike other African countries like Rwanda, where there’s relatively stable power supply, entrepreneurs here spend about ₦5,000/day in running a generator. Don’t bother to do the monthly math.

Can the Lagos State Government generate independent power for Yaba? Can we have subsidy on rent for startups. Can we have relatively low cost for internet? Until then we shall continue to ask which way for Yaba Mr. Governor?

In addition, I want to believe that your economic team did not include tech entrepreneurs in your Lagos State Employment Trust Fund — where 100k SMEs will battle for ₦25 billion. If my math serves me right, that’s roughly ₦250k per entrepreneur. Sir, it’s not about the quantity of beneficiaries, it’s the quality that will drive growth. ₦250k will not go anywhere in the Nigeria we find ourselves today. It’s more trouble than help.

In conclusion, please Mr. Governor, stop giving us money that we run dry on high costs. Provide the infrastructure to support our businesses, until then we keep asking, which way for Yaba?


About the Author (R.J. Musah): Tell me I can’t, I will show you a 1000 ways to get it done. Entrepreneurs’ Senior Advocate (ESA), Founder at Asuqu.com

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