FG Will Provide Environment For Innovation To Thrive – Says Osinbajo
*Adds – CBN and BOI working on intervention funds and loans for technology start-ups
REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE LAUNCH OF VIBRANIUM VALLEY IN IKEJA, LAGOS, ON FRIDAY, JUNE 22, 2018.
Let me first say, how excited I am to be here today, and to celebrate the opening of this great place. These two gentlemen, Kunmi and Bunmi, I have sort of worked with them over the years, very, very many years. Of course, long before I became Vice President and long before they became wealthy and successful. But I think we have at least, managed to encourage ourselves as we went along. And I am pleased to see the birth of this new place.
We are here today to commission the Vibranium Valley, a place devoted to talent, innovation, data and entrepreneurship. A bold idea birthed in the hearts of two young Nigerians, and audaciously delivered by a team of over 100 young Nigerians. We are told that the Vibranium Valley houses 30 tech companies, with the potential to house up to 50 companies. And that it is the largest technology campus in sub Saharan Africa.
But perhaps what lies in the sub-text of that story, is how crucial this is to the dream of our economic future, as a nation. So here, we have a metaphor for our future, a foreshadow of a glorious new day, where by sheer God given talent, creativity, hard work and knowledge, phenomenal value and prosperity are built for the entrepreneurs, for the millions to whom they provide services, and this nation which gave them the opportunity.
The founders of this amazing technology campus, Kunmi Demuren and Bunmi Akinyemiju, deserve our commendation, not just for this, but also for the past. They founded the Ventures Garden Group, which grew their technology company from a start-up to a $60million Pan-African growth stage technology holding company in 7 years. But more importantly, through their investment company, which is called Green House Capital, they created an ecosystem of world class technology companies. These companies include 6 wholly owned companies and investments in other young companies, including the well-known Flutterwave, Rensource Energy, Edutech, Finatech, Mines Dot I.O, CC Hub’s growth fund, Appzone and 10 others.
These companies are providing technology driven solutions to some of the most difficult development problems confronting us today. And we just heard Bunmi talk about few of them.
On the part of government, we are putting our money where our mouth is. We believe that it is our role, to provide the environment where innovation can thrive. So we are including technology start-ups and businesses in our list of businesses eligible for pioneer status. And that means tax holidays.
Also, both the Central Bank of Nigeria and Bank of Industry are working on intervention funds and loans for technology start-ups, while we have to-date, opened three state-of-the-art technology hubs.
Two weeks ago, I was in Yola to open the North East Humanitarian Technology Hub, which specializes in innovation useful for victims of conflict. There I saw, the 3-D printing of prosthesis of artificial limbs. One artificial arm was printed for a 12-year old boy, Mohammed, and with his new arm, he can now write and open doors with his artificial hand. This was created in that hub.
Only last Friday, I opened the South-south Innovation Hub in Benin, Edo State, this is a collaboration between the Federal Government and the Edo State government. There I listened to 12 outstanding pitches by potential innovators and technology companies.
Next month, I will be opening the Climate Change Technology Club at the Pan African University, a collaboration between the Federal Government and the University.
Later today, as a matter of fact as we leave here, I will be in University of Lagos, to lay the foundation of an Innovation Hub. This hub is supported by the Federal Government, and I will launch the Students’ Innovation Challenge.
Last week, we inaugurated the Technology and Creativity Working Group. This working group is part of our Industrial and Competitiveness Advisory Council. The group consisting of young tech innovators and entertainment entrepreneurs, will help government to develop policies that will shape the future of the technology and entertainment industries. We are committed to playing a pivotal role, in defining the future for technology, for creativity and businesses generally, but also in ensuring that government is a facilitator, not an obstacle to businesses
Ladies and gentlemen, there is also the hand of providence here, and we must recognize it. This place for many years, housed the Concord Press, a once highly successful National newspaper, owned by Chief MKO Abiola, GCFR posthumous, winner of the June 12 1993 Presidential elections. Abiola’s campaign slogan was HOPE, the eradication of poverty. The enemies of our freedoms and democracy thought that they had killed that dream by the annulment of the election and the complete destruction of the Concord newspaper. But they were wrong, in the profound words of the Mexican proverb, and I quote “They tried to bury us, but they didn’t know we were seeds.”
They thought they had buried us, but they did not know that we are seeds. Today we celebrate the trees that have grown from the seeds that were buried here. The hope they thought they had killed, has risen again, through the young men and women, some not even born when the travesty was committed. So Concord was only the foundation for Vibranium. No one can stop the inexorable march of hope! We are grateful to God that we are witnesses today, to the full cycle of history.
And so it is now my special privilege today, to formally open this great place of innovation and creativity, for a new generation of young men and women, who carry with them, the hope and aspirations of a nation, Vibranium, built for the benefit of the Nigerian people and to the glory of God.
“On the part of government, we are putting our money where our mouth is. We believe that it is our role, to provide the environment where innovation can thrive. So we are including technology start-ups and businesses in our list of businesses eligible for pioneer status. And that means tax holidays.”