A new hub is about to launch beside the Hub.

The Hub, with a capital ‘H’, is the Co-Creation Hub that we all know and love. The new “hub” is a tech incubator backed by government and the usual corporate technology interests. They are calling it the iDEA.

Since a few weeks ago when I became aware of this new incubation center, I’ve been puzzled. Its listed address on Sabo Yaba puts it a block away from the CCHub. The only plausible suspects at the time were a newly opened bakery and a disused, decrepit-looking story right next to us. There was nothing there.

Or so it seemed until sometime this week when I spied some aggressive improvements going on, on said disused building. It’s got a new coat of paint and the internal upgrades are fairly obvious from the outside. I watched some workers wrestle an industrial generator into the building, the day before yesterday. You know it’s real when they bring in the generator.


iDEA is in the middle

So I’ve since concluded that this must be the place they were talking about. But whatever they’re doing, they’ll have to wrap it up in time for the launch event tomorrow, when they’ll be opening the doors to everyone.

Of late, Nigerian government and policy people, mostly the Federal Ministry of Communications Technology, have become increasingly “tech hub-happy”. They’ve announced all kinds of million dollar funds for the “ICT sector”, which I’ve personally found hard to keep track of, with all of the double press and things around it. There’s the Tech Launch Pad initiative — somehow, I can’t think about it in terms of anything other than a really elaborate private hackathon for oil companies and banks. Now they have this iDEA, which will be situate in both Lagos and Tinapa, Calabar. Forget bandwagons — this government has plonked itself headfirst onto the innovation roller-coaster. Hard to say if we should be as excited as they are, but we are watching to see where this coaster goes.

At just two storeys high, the iDEA stands literally and metaphorically in the shadow of the Co-Creation Hub. Choosing to be located right beside the poster child of Nigerian tech innovation culture effectively ensures that it’ll come under all sorts of scrutiny, and I suspect its handlers will feel the need to prove themselves against the track record of its neighbouring predecessor. While passion obviously fuels the CCHub, what stuff is iDEA is made of? Besides copious amounts of government money, that is. We’ll find out soon enough.

My opinion? It’s too early to form one, I think. But I’m also aware that big things are about to happen here in Lagos. There is only so much creative energy that the CCHub can absorb and harness all by itself, so another ideas center is absolutely welcome.

Save for the fact that this apparently smart acronym for “Information Technology Developers Entrepreneurship Accelerator” comes off as an elaborately contrived backronym…I think I’m liking the idea.

Bankole Oluwafemi Author

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