Lagos, Nigeria – Elevator Pitch

Lagos is an emerging tech ecosystem just 5 years old and already producing high growth startups in travel, e-commerce and FinTech sectors. Lagos, Nairobi, and Johannesburg all have ambitions to be the tech hub of the African continent, and Nigeria’s cultural influence in music and film bodes well for the ecosystem. The defining factors are a huge Nigerian and pan-African market coming online through Android smartphones and relative greenfield of opportunity to create sector leading companies.

Lagos is a city undergoing tremendous growth and bursting at the seams with people, cars, and opportunity. A rapidly growing middle class is coming online and embracing the internet. A city of 20MM people that is projected to double in size in the next 15-20 years, there are cranes in the sky all over the islands and the government is literally creating new land through a reclamation process to build the “Manhattan of Africa” on Victoria Island.

To believe in the Nigerian startup ecosystem is to wrap your head around the opportunity that the massive market represents as well as the possibility of building the leading ecosystem in pan-Africa, a three horse race at the moment between Lagos, Nairobi and Johannesburg.

Challenges persist, and must be viewed through the entrepreneur’s lens as opportunities. The power grid is wholly unreliable, fiber internet access limited, no where near enough developers, logistics and payments challenging. But it’s also a market that is not crowded yet. When I compare Lagos to San Francisco, it’s hard not to think of all of the talent that is being applied to incremental quality of life innovations in a crowded market while Nigeria is the land of opportunity for entrepreneurs.

Sectors

  • E-commerce
  • FinTech
    • payments
    • microloans
    • subscription payments
  • EdTech
  • Travel
  • Health
  • Media / Entertainment
  • AgTech
  • SME software
Market
  • 180mm people
  • 50% under 30yrs old
  • 70% mobile penetration
  • 40% education penetration
  • 80% of country has no bank account
Drivers
  • Increasing mobile penetration (leapfrogging)
  • Android phones at $20 USD, currently at $60 USD
  • Need sub $100 tablets
  • Mobile web 1st, Android 2nd, Apple 3rd or not
  • the bottom billion
  • Diaspora returns
  • Oil crash, drop in Naira
  • Fast word of mouth penetration through Twitter / social media
  • Utilities, generators
  • Singular culture – Nigerian media (tv music) across continent (Naija)
Notable Companies
  • Tolet.com.ng – Connecting people to rental housing and office market
  • Hotels.ng – Hotel reservations with 8000 local hotels on platform
  • Simbapay – 1.2% commission, mobile wallet and wire transfer to Africa
  • Andela – Developing talent with software development skills through a consultancy
  • Jumia – Ecommerce site with own delivery logistics
  • Konga – Ecommerce site with own delivery logistics
  • Wakanow – Africa’s travel site with brick and mortar travel centers for new travelers
  • Gigalayer – hosting, domains and SSL certificates
  • Nerve – content distribution optimized for African markets
  • Traclist – fashion ecommerce store
  • Play Spread – media monitoring for music and film to help creators get paid
  • Interswitch – digital payments company
  • LifeBank – virtual blood bank and blood delivery network
  • Truppr – fitness events
  • Jara – earn rewards when recharging mobile minutes
  • Beat Traffik – crowdsourced traffic data for Lagos
  • Paga – online and mobile payments and transfers
  • Paystack – recurring credit card billing
  • Simple Pay – credit card billing for web
  • Jobberman – employment site for jobseekers
  •  – automates processes for schools and educators
  • Pass.ng – exam preparation for Nigerian education exams

Investor Activity

  • 500 Startups – several Nigerian startups have been accepted into the accelerator program
  • Seedstars – global seed investors and accelerator programs in emerging markets
  • Lagos Angel Network – angel network meeting monthly in Lagos
  • Echo VC – VC fund bridging Palo Alto & Lagos
  • African Business Angels Network – a non-profit promoting a culture of Angel investing across Africa
  • 440.NG – a joint venture between 88MPH and L5Labs investing at an early stage
  • TLcom TIDE fund – focused on technology enabled services and innovation for Sub Saharan Africa

Events

  • Demo Africa – annual startup event with investor pitches that moves between African tech hub cities

Accelerators / Code Academies / Workspaces / Coworking

  • iDEA Nigeria – accelerator program and workspace in Yaba
  • CcHub –  Co-creation Hub is a social impact accelerator and workspace in Yaba

Resources

  • VC4Africa – information and investment opportunities portal for Africa
  • TechPoint – Publication focused on Nigerian tech scene
  • Tech Cabal & TechCabal Radar – Media company and community (Radar) dedicated to covering tech across Africa
  • Ingressive – annual tech tours to Africa covering tech hubs
  • Disrupt Africa – startup news, information and commentary across the African continent for

Twitter Accounts

Thank you to the Dr. Wiebe Boer and Obinna Ekezie who helped me set up the trip to Lagos and to the following people who took time to meet with me.


This post on the Nigerian tech ecosystem is largely gathered from my experience visiting Lagos in July 2016. I’ve worked to gather as many resources and information as possible, but am confident I’ve missed plenty. Please contact me with edits and additions to this post at chris@lp.co and I’ll keep it updated.  Thank you.

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