Omobola Johnson, Nigeria’s communication and technology minister in the immediate past cabinet, was a panelist on the “Local Investor Panel” during the DEMO Africa 2015 last week. There she spoke in her capacity as a partner at TLcom Capital, a venture capital fund with offices in London and Nairobi that invests in telecom, media and technology companies.

It was at the session she first addressed a public investors’ sitting in her position as a partner at the VC firm, and it got us to wondering what this means for the Nigerian technology ecosystem.

Omobola Johnson has been a pioneer in defining the Nigerian government’s relationship with technology and entrepreneurship. In her time as the ICT minister, she launched an accelerator, Tech Launchpad and an incubation hub, the iDea hub in Lagos. Not much has been heard from Tech Launchpad in recent months, but iDea – which has also taken on an accelerator toga – has been growing and it recently graduated its first accelerator cohort at its Yaba center. Both are her legacy.

She also took a widely reported tour of Silicon Valley back in 2013 to learn about the ecosystem. Some of the learning has gone into building out the iDea hub. She has proved over the years her interest in the new wave of small tech-enabled companies and her role has been well documented, at least on TechCabal.

Omobola Johnson would be TLcom’s first female and African partner, according to data from the fund’s Crunchbase profile and her transition to TLcom may mean more foreign investors’ confidence in the Nigerian technology ecosystem.

Foreign investors have been known to show concern at their inability to fully understand the local startup landscape and the startups within it. With a pointman in the former minister who is passionate and has spent enough time within the ecosystem to understand its potential, TLcom will begin to pay more attention to Nigeria and with more assurance in its portfolios.

TLcom will also be getting a great deal out of this. Omobola Johnson’s influence within the ecosystem comes with another layer of influence in politics. TLcom is reported to be raising a $100 million fund for African startups called the TLcom TIDE fund and her influence in politics may get more players from that sector of the country interested in pitching into the fund from Nigeria.

Gbenga Onalaja Author

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