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Anambra’s Ambition to be the Next Tech Hub in Nigeria

By Oluchukwu Ikemefuna

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Anambra State, Nigeria, with the help of its Governor, Prof. Charles Soludo, takes bold steps to evolve into a digital and innovation hub. A recent high-level meeting with the US Consul-General and top US tech company representatives signifies a significant stride in this direction.

In 2022, Africa’s tech ecosystem witnessed a substantial growth with a noteworthy investment of $4.85 billion. It is undeniable that this surge is contributing significantly to the region’s technological advancement. Significantly, tech startups located in Lagos channel over 87% of tech investments in Nigeria. This prominence of Lagos as a tech hub in Nigeria attributes to two key factors: the widespread presence of tech hubs and the abundance of tech talent within the city.

Governor Soludo’s Tech Implementation in Anambra

Anambra’s State Governor, Prof. Charles Soludo
Anambra’s State Governor, Prof. Charles Soludo

The ICT ecosystem that has shaped Lagos into what it is today is currently undergoing cultivation in Anambra. Under the leadership of Governor Soludo, the administration has embarked on a mission to establish Awka as a prominent tech capital in Nigeria.

In the current scenario in Anambra, the state has made significant progress in laying the groundwork for an extensive expansion of fiber optic networks.

Anambra has notably achieved the milestone of becoming the first state in the southeast region to enforce zero charges on Right-of-Way (RoW) per linear meter for the deployment of broadband infrastructure.

For individuals less familiar with the ICT domain, it’s crucial to note that Nigeria’s communication infrastructure has traditionally depended on microwave communication, the channel through which your cell phone’s signal is transmitted. While microwave systems are relatively cost-effective, they face significant constraints in terms of traffic capacity and anti-jamming capabilities. This limitation has prompted the exponential expansion of fibre optic networks in Europe and America. Fundamentally, people consider fiber optic cables a more reliable, secure, and high-bandwidth option compared to microwave systems, enabling the transmission of substantial amounts of data.

Under the leadership of Chukwuemeka Fred Agbata, a former journalist and serial tech entrepreneur, the state’s ICT agency, in collaboration with GICL, has successfully deployed approximately 200 kilometers of fibre optic cables in the initial phase of development. This targeted expansion is directed towards Ministries, Departments, Agencies (MDAs), and other clusters. Presently, concrete plans are in place for the construction of an additional 2,000 kilometers of 4-way fiber duct infrastructure. This ambitious initiative aims to catalyze the integration of fiber optic systems in Anambra, laying the foundation for robust ICT frameworks in the upcoming cities and industrial parks within the state.

The Establishment of a Tech Hub for Youths

In the realm of fostering tech talents, the Solution Innovation District (SID), a recently established tech hub, serves as a dedicated space for incubating startups and facilitating the growth of high-tech businesses. Through a collaborative effort with Microsoft and the Wootlab Foundation, SID has recently conducted a digital skills training program, benefitting approximately 20,000 youths in Anambra. This initiative aligns with the hub’s mission to empower and equip the local youth with essential skills for the digital era.

To amplify the impact of ICT training initiatives, the state has introduced a newly launched software development program called ‘Code Africa.’ This program aims to train a substantial number of youths, positioning Anambra as a hub for ICT talents. As ‘Code Africa’ begins to produce aspiring programmers and developers, it marks the commencement of a journey to establish a robust and exportable ICT talent pool in Anambra.

The Solution Innovation District (SID) anticipates receiving support from tertiary institutions in proximity to Anambra, mirroring the role played by Stanford University in Silicon Valley, California. A forthcoming roadmap will outline the strategic plans for elevating universities in Anambra to the next level, fostering collaboration and synergy between academia and the burgeoning tech ecosystem in the region.

Initiating a promising trend, tech hubs and local universities have set in motion a collaboration.

In a recent development, the state’s ICT agency partnered with Nnamdi Azikiwe University to establish an internship program. This collaborative effort bore fruit with the successful launch of Electronic Identification Cards (E-ID Cards) for civil servants and other government employees in the state, exemplifying the tangible outcomes of such university-tech hub alliances.

Soludo’s Transformation of Anambra’s State Civil Service

Recognizing the pivotal role of the civil service as the government’s engine, the Soludo-led administration has embarked on the digital transformation of Anambra State’s civil service. The initial phase of this endeavor involves the acquisition and deployment of over 200 brand-new computers. Simultaneously, a comprehensive capacity-building initiative is underway, with civil servants undergoing re-training on digital technology to ensure a smooth transition towards a modernized and tech-enabled civil service in the state.

Under the current administration, the state’s civil service has achieved a more streamlined and organized Internet presence. In contrast to the previous scenario, where information on Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) was dispersed across various domain names and servers, there is now a notable consolidation. Today, the majority of MDAs operate under a standardized domain, anambrastate.gov.ng, providing a unified online platform for accessing information related to these entities.

These initiatives within the civil service mark the commencement of a transformative journey towards digitizing Anambra State’s civil service and transitioning it into a paperless environment. The ongoing efforts signify a notable work in progress as the administration works towards modernizing and enhancing the efficiency of administrative processes within the state.

Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria

To augment its ICT infrastructure, the state’s ICT agency is in collaboration with the Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN) to establish an Internet exchange point. Successful negotiations in this regard would position Anambra as one of the locations for IXPN’s Point-of-Presence in Nigeria, reinforcing the state’s connectivity and presence within the broader internet ecosystem.

Being one of the locations for IXPN’s Point-of-Presence offers substantial benefits. IXPN serves as a platform for direct interconnection of networks within Nigeria, ensuring that local Internet traffic stays within the country’s borders. This localization of traffic brings significant advantages, including cost reduction, low latency, and increased internet bandwidth, ultimately enhancing the efficiency of data transmission.

Governor Soludo Leads Anambra’s Tech Thrust with Collaboration with US Tech Titans

The Anambra state government, under the leadership of Governor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, is also forging a technology collaboration and cooperation alliance with 26 US-based companies, including industry giants like Google, Meta, Amazon Web Services, Dell, VISA, Microsoft, and Coca-Cola. This strategic alliance aims to cultivate a thriving technology ecosystem in the state, accelerating its technological advancements. The collaboration is expected to foster technological exchange and economic growth, benefiting both the tech sector in Anambra State and companies in Nigeria and the United States. This is in a post according to Techpoint Africa, a tech blog and website.

Tech giants: Google, Apple, Meta, Amazon and Microsoft
Tech giants: Google, Apple, Meta, Amazon and Microsoft

The recently hosted meeting by the US Consulate General in Lagos resulted in this strategic partnership, where discussions took place between US Consul-General William Stevens, executives from major tech companies, and the state’s delegation led by Governor Chukwuma Charles Soludo, CFR. The agreement outlines specific contributions, such as Amazon Web Services assisting Anambra State in transforming its digital health and education systems, with Dell and HP providing discounts and technical support for future device purchases within the state.

Google’s Role in Anambra’s Tech Revolution

Google’s role focuses on helping SMEs enhance their digital presence, while Meta (Facebook’s parent company) plans to expand its collaboration in the state through various tech institutions. It’s crucial to note that the partnership considers the preliminary stage, allowing for flexibility in modifying commitments to ensure their meaningful translation into projects.

This development comes a month after Anambra State adopted the Nigeria Startup Act (NSA), showcasing the government’s commitment to technological advancements. Earlier, the state implemented a zero Right of Way fee, aimed at boosting digital adoption and improving broadband access. Governor Soludo’s support for local startups is evident through initiatives like sponsoring Foris Labs Team to the TechCrunch Startup Battlefield and launching ‘Code Anambra,’ a software development training program under the Solution Innovation District. Collaborations with entities like VFD Group further demonstrate efforts to support tech startups in the state through grants and competitions.

In summary, Governor Prof. Charles Soludo of Anambra State is spearheading numerous initiatives, fostering collaborations with global tech giants, and implementing strategic measures to establish Anambra State as a flourishing tech hub in both Nigeria and Africa.

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Christian Maximilian
Christian Maximilian

I am a Software Engineer, technical writer, and overall tech enthusiast. For me, utilizing my skills as a Software Engineer to perform Technical Search Engine Optimization is not just a job, but something I gladly incorporate into my pastimes as well, and I have been doing this for over 3 years.

When I'm not coding or writing technical documentation, I enjoy listening to music and exploring new genres.

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