Versecom, a technology services company and IHS Nigeria this week launched a low-cost energy and environmental hub in Lagos, to help startups overcome cost challenges with accessing office space. The centre also has a co-working space for freelancers and is located in Rafiu Jafojo Park Shasha, Alimosho.
The Hub has a 700-seat capacity coworking space with amenities such as WiFi, air conditioning, uninterrupted power, etc. All of these can be enjoyed by freelancers, workers, and teams at a flat fee of just ₦1,000 per day.
The centre is open to individuals and teams but community events and challenges will be tailored towards energy and environment startups. These are very rare in Nigeria and Africa at large as they’ve lacked the support needed to test their products and scale them, according to Timilehin Odusina, CEO of Versecom.
“Nigeria has a very vibrant software-based innovative space. What we’re looking at now is something around hardware. Some of the problems we’re facing can only be solved from a hardware point of view,” Odusina told TechCabal.
To remove the barriers inhibiting innovation within the sector, the hub has a built-in energy laboratory with equipment such as a transformer winder and oscilloscope. These will be used to test energy and waste management solutions and experiments.
In the near future, Odusina hopes the centre can serve as an incubator for teams solving unique problems around energy and the environment. “At the hub, we can examine questions such as how to solve the power problem in the country or generate sustainable energy from renewable sources. That’s the focus of the initiative,” he said.
Odusina explains that siting the innovation hub in Alimosho was a strategic choice due to two primary factors. It is the biggest local government area in Lagos and comes with the advantage of linkages to different parts of the state.
There is also market opportunity. The sheer size of Alimosho means it is most likely home to working-class millennials, most of whom will have to journey to locations such as Yaba or Ikeja when they need to make use of co-working spaces.
“Imagine living here and you’re spending another 40-50k a month just to transport yourself to any of the other communities where there are co-working spaces. Looking at this from the innovation perspective, that is killing the innovating spirit,” Odusina said.
The Versecom chief executive hopes that this coworking space will declutter the popular tech hubs in Lagos and as a result attract more talent to Alimosho and other planned locations for the low-cost centres. He believes that technology and innovation should be spread out across every part of the state.
Odusina revealed that the hub – which was close to completion in 2019 but got delayed by the coronavirus outbreak – is already planning to host the first major hackathon later this year with a focus on waste management.
“The plan is to look at innovative ideas for waste gathering for canals and waterways,” he said. The company will also have capacity building programmes around energy.
Meanwhile, the Energy & Environmental Hub is the first of six planned low-cost hubs and co-working spaces to be located within different public parks around Lagos.
According to Odusina, subsequent hubs will be designed to tackle unique problems across sectors similar to the one at Alimosho. These include concepts like smart cities and connectivity; agric and healthtech; beauty care; retail, logistics and transportation; as well as fintech and entertainment.
“Innovation and ideas will be crucial to moving the country forward. This is beyond one-off grants or investments. It is about creating a conducive environment for innovators to thrive,” he said.
In addition to Versecom and IHS Nigeria, the initiative also involves government agencies such as the Lagos State Parks and Gardens Agency (LASPARK) and the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF).
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