Nigeria’s tech startups have become a political talking point to sway young voters

Start-ups West Africa

Nigeria’s tech ecosystem has come in for praise over the past decade given the rise of startups solving problems and serving addressable market needs using technology. Investment—running into hundreds of millions of dollars—has flowed in and several startup and tech hubs have launched, ensuring a pipeline of innovative ideas.

But tech startups are increasingly becoming political fodder too.

With Nigeria’s general elections barely a month away, candidates looking to sway young voters—a majority of the electorate—are name-dropping tech companies in a bid to appear friendly to the ecosystem. In a recent debate for governorship candidates in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial nerve center, leading candidates made sure to tout their support to the local ecosystem—Africa’s most valuable. Jide Sanwo-Olu, candidate of the ruling All Progressive Congress, claimedhe’d visited all tech companies in the state and will establish a tech hub in each of Lagos’ 20 local governments.

And it’s not just governorship candidates. Nigeria’s vice president is well-known for visiting tech companies, speaking at conferences as well talking up government support for the sector. It’s part of long-held ambition to diversify the country’s oil exports-reliant economy. But the federal government’s actions has not always matched its rhetoric. Continue reading

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