Akwa Ibom Tech Week 2023 which happened between October 31 and November 3, in Uyo and Ikot Ekpene, has set a bold aim to position the state as Africa’s new tech destination. The state boasts a stable political climate, good road networks, an independent power plant, trimodal ports of entry, and an international airport with a state-owned airline. The vibrant developer ecosystem growing at 29.7% month-on-month, since March 2023 is second only to Lagos in Africa. Developers and designers boast a total population of 3,408 according to Google Developer Groups and Friends of Figma. This number excludes digital marketers, product managers and data analysts plying their trade outside of established communities.
To harness these advantages, the organisers of Akwa Ibom Tech Week, Ibom Innovation Network (IIN), a private organisation limited by guarantees have gone ahead to constitute three special purpose vehicles (SPV) to actualize and consolidate the claim.
The three SPVs are:
- Ibom Angel Network
- Ibom Languages Expansion Project
- African Tech Talents Evaluation Framework
The President of IIN, Mr Hanson Johnson made the pronouncement on the sidelines of the conference. “We dare to dream and claim that Akwa Ibom is Africa’s new tech destination because innovation, entrepreneurial interventions, infrastructure upgrade, and talent development are well aligned. However, this claim will remain a mere conjecture if we do not build functional structures around it. To realise this dream, we are launching three sub-groups of IIN with different mandates.” He adds, “The new subgroups of Ibom Innovation Network are Ibom Angel Network, Ibom Languages Expansion Project group, and the African Tech Talents Evaluation Framework”
The angel network will drive startup funding and venture growth programmes in the state. The Ibom Languages Expansion project will focus on extending the indigenous languages of Akwa Ibom; Annang, Ibibio, and Oro to include modern vocabularies. It is aimed at making it easier to teach technology and the language of innovation to early age learners and foreigners in the local languages of Akwa Ibom.
Lastly, the African Tech Talents Evaluation Framework underscores the importance of having a unified, but standardised method of onboarding, training, and placement of tech talents in ways that allow the trainers and multiple stakeholders to recover their training cost once talent placement occurs.
The week-long event started with a breakfast meeting, a health and wellness talk at Wella Health and a ceremonial Golf tee off at Ibom Golf Resort on Monday, October 30. It was then followed by two days of a well-attended conference which was held at Four Points by Sheraton, Ikot Ekpene, where speakers like Oswald Osaretin Guobadia, Nick Marden, Dr Frank Ekpenyong, Dr Odiong Akpan, Mrs Victoria Fabunmi, Mr. Raphael Edem, and the Director General of Nigeria Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Dr Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, and 30 others spoke optimistically about Akwa Ibom’s desire to be Africa’s new tech destination.
The NITDA Director General highlighted the federal government’s commitment to addressing the digital skills gap. He noted that the programmes of Ibom Innovation Network are in alignment with the interventions of the Agency with regards to skills development.
The audacious claim to position Akwa Ibom as Africa’s new tech destination was reinforced by Aniedi Udo-Obong, the Regional Lead, Google Developer Groups (US & Canada) during a landmark remark where he tasked the state government to provide Uyo with the ‘fastest internet in Africa’, a gesture he believes would help the network in partnership with the state to drive digital skills acquisition and innovation.
The event was an opportunity for speakers and product owners to network, collaborate, and showcase their brand values. It featured panel sessions, fireside chats, product demonstration, and innovation hub tours.
In closing the two-day conference, one of the co-planners of Akwa Ibom Tech Week, Amanda Etuk thanked the guests for honouring the invitation and encouraged participants to explore the rich tourism offering of Akwa Ibom State as packaged by the organisers of Akwa Ibom Tech Week, AITW2023.
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About Akwa Ibom Tech Week
Akwa Ibom Tech Week is an annual event dedicated to fostering innovation, collaboration, and exploration of opportunities within the tech ecosystem. The event aims to position Akwa Ibom State as a leading tech destination in Africa by showcasing its potential, fostering talent development, and encouraging partnerships within the global tech community
Photographs from the event
Conference Day 1. Conference Day 1 Photos
Conference Day 2. Conference Day 2 Photos