Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu
•Lagos lawmaker, wife float tech hub to promote innovation at grassroots
Creative young people within the Lagos East Senatorial District now have the opportunity to enhance their tech skills and knowledge, as lawmaker representing the district in the Senate, Sen. Tokunbo Abiru, unveiled a state-of-the-art innovation and technology workroom in Ikorodu.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Friday, formally inaugurated the SAIL Innovation Lab built at Ebute Ipakodo axis of Ikorodu to inspire grassroots innovation and build network of tech savvy young entrepreneurs that would use their expertise to solve real socio-economic problems and transform the State.
The SAIL project, which is a private endowment initiated in 2021 by the lawmaker and his wife, Mrs. Feyisola Abiru, is being operated on partnership with Co-creation Hub (CcHUB), a leading innovation centre accelerating technology for economic prosperity.
The lab offers a unique community innovation workspace for tech start-ups to inspire grassroots innovation and build partnerships to prosperity. Its ambience provides a comfortable and safe environment for exploring innovative ideas and training cohorts in basic foundations of ICT and cross-functional programmes.
Unveiling the project, Sanwo-Olu described the SAIL lab as a “game changer” that would amplify the narrative of technological evolution in Lagos. He said the lab would not only provide modern tech skills to cohorts being trained in the facility, he added that the innovative ideas that would be patented in the lab would enhance the profile of the State as a hub of technology in sub-Saharan Africa.
The Governor said such grassroots innovation workspace needed to be replicated across divisions in the State to create more access for ingenious youths willing to pursue careers in ICT and STEM.
He said: “Africa missed the first Industrial Revolution, we also missed the second. We started with the Third Industrial Revolution at the tail end. We don’t have any excuse not to be key stakeholders in the coming Fourth and Fifth Industrial Revolution, because it is the technology that will give up the leapfrog and make a young person sitting in Ikorodu to compete with his peers across innovation capitals of the world.
“Technology is the only tool that will give us the opportunity to create our own unique solutions to problems we face and position our country as key players in the global technology market. I am excited that the SAIL Innovation Lab will be providing more opportunities for our young people to learn, relearn and grow their skills in the tech space and build a prosperous future for not only themselves but also our dear country. I congratulate Sen. Abiru and his wife for this wonderful intervention.”
Sanwo-Olu said his administration had been providing required infrastructure for technology development in the State. He stressed that the intervention had been been yielding benefits, noting that Lagos received 65 per cent of technology-driven foreign investments attracted by the country in 2022.
The Governor said Lagos now became the city of choice for six international tech giants, such as Flutterwave, CcHUB, Microsoft, Google and Facebook, and Kasi Cloud.
The State, Sanwo-Olu said, has laid over 2,000 kilometers metropolitan fibre ducts across city to boost access to fast Internet connections and transform the culture of interaction in business, education and social services.
He said: “We are currently building knowledge-based innovation hub in Yaba, which is called KITE Project. The entire project area will be a tech campus for the youths. We have realised that science and technology are the future. This is where we see the synergy between our vision and the vision of SAIL Innovation Lab. We are also developing a new approach to converting our skill acquisition centres into tech hubs.”
Sen. Abiru the project was conceived out of the need to create access to technology tools and skill development for resourceful youths in his constituency.
The lawmaker said the innovation lab had recorded significant milestones since inception, training over 490 participants in cross-functional programmes, while over 2,000 took its online programmes.
SAIL offers short-period courses in Tech Talent Development Programme in which 20 trainees of its inaugural class are now gainfully employed in the corporate sector.
“SAIL Innovation Lab took off in 2021 in partnership with CcHub to deepen acceptance of tech innovation in the Lagos East Senatorial District, using a human-centred design approach. The lab facility is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and is managed fully by the CcHub’s highly-trained facilitators who take the wide range of programmes being offered free-of-charge to participants who come from different parts of the district.
“The lab will also be providing access to cutting-edge technology and resources, to support our participants as they develop their skills. We will work closely with indigenous employers and other stakeholders to ensure that our programmes meet the needs of the market and provide our graduates with real career opportunities.”
CcHUB co-founder, Dr. Olatunbosun Tijanni, said the constant change and evolution of skills necessitated the establishment of the innovation lab, noting that technology offered best opportunity for Nigeria to stay competitive in the global economy.
After commissioning the lab, Sanwo-Olu was led on a tour of the facility during which the Governor interacted with participants in different cohorts.