The phrase “hardware is hard”, frequently used in hardware circles globally, takes on a different meaning in Nigeria, where hardware is seemingly harder.
Even after surmounting challenges like lack of local expertise, inconsistent power supply, insufficient funding, and a general reluctance to buy local hardware and even then, success is not guaranteed.
Over the years, several entrepreneurs who tried their hands at building hardware businesses abandoned them soon after starting as reality hit. However, the few who stayed the course have seen progress, albeit little.
One of such entrepreneurs is Tochukwu Clinton Chukwueke, Founder of Clintonel Innovation Centre (CIC), an engineering hub located in Aba, Abia State, Nigeria, that aims to improve hardware production capabilities in Nigerians.
One way CIC aims to do this is through a hardware convention for makerspaces, fab labs, hardware startups/entrepreneurs, academia, investors, manufacturers, and policymakers with the theme, “Advancing Hardware, Engineering, and Manufacturing Business in Nigeria.”
The event, to be held from August 26 to August 28, 2021, in Aba, will feature panel sessions, talks from industry practitioners, breakout sessions, and a tour of the city’s tech and manufacturing hubs.
Participants will also have an opportunity to network with other players in the hardware industry. The event is organised to draw attention to hardware engineering as a core component of national development.
In a chat with Techpoint Africa, Chukwueke said, “If we don’t develop hardware capabilities in Nigeria, Nigeria will continue to be a poor country because we will continue to import whatever we consume.”
The event also aims to attract investments from the private sector to hardware manufacturers in the country in the same way that software engineering has received investment.
“We’ve had some level of success with attracting investment to the software sector, and we would love to replicate that success,” Chukwueke added.
It is also an opportunity to share knowledge and build capacity for the local production of medical equipment. This objective is one that Chukwueke was emphatic about, stressing that Nigeria could have had it worse if the COVID-19 pandemic had been as severe as in most parts of Europe and America.
The general public can register to attend the conference physically or virtually through this link.
The event boasts an impressive lineup of speakers and panelists with representatives from the government, the private sector, and academia.
While the progress made by software startups in Nigeria is impressive, it cannot make up for the hardware needs of the country. Without adequately developing Nigerians’ ability to build hardware solutions locally, the task of lifting the country out of poverty would be a tough one.
As entrepreneurs like Chukwueke and his team at Clintonel do their part, they need the support of the government and private sector — who both have a huge role to play — to succeed.
Accidental writer, covering Africa’s startup landscape and its heroes.