Ebonyi State can sometimes be described as a small silent state with a little population that barely makes the headlines. It’s exhibiting this same character in the South-East tech industry.
Previously, I questioned if there was an active tech community in Ebonyi State and why we haven’t heard much from them, I couldn’t find sufficient reasons backed with relevant facts that deciphered why, until Andela raised a $100 million series D in funding and StartupSouth decided to spark up a conversation for South-South and South-East out of the big news.
“With Andela’s new raise, they may be interested in expanding into more Nigerian cities. If you were to advise them – Which South-South/South-East city would you tell them to set up a campus in?” asked StartupSouth in a poll.
For the first poll Uyo had 51% of the 341 votes, Enugu 20%, Port Harcourt 16% and Owerri 13%; but comments under this poll totally went the opposite direction. Aba had the highest number of mentions forcing StartupSouth to create a second poll and Aba won 59% of the 194 votes, Awka had 18%, Benin 12% and Asaba 11%.
Looking at the results, it was obvious that Aba won the second poll mainly because of sentiments and the misconception that since it has the most enterprising population in Nigeria, it could also be startups friendly. But the reality is; Aba comes nowhere close to Port Harcourt, Uyo or Enugu in terms of infrastructure, startups support and developers talents. Although, Aba could be a good market if you’re offering tech-enabled services that’ll help manage finances and speed up the manufacturing process for traders in its globally recognised leather and textile market.
Ebonyi State was missing on StartupSouth’s poll and I think it’s odd, putting in consideration that it’s geographically located in between two giants; Enugu and Aba. Again, I’m hit by the thought “is there a tech community in Ebonyi State?”
I set out to find answers.
A look at how other States in the region and their tech ecosystem, it is clear that the existence of innovation hubs were crucial to foster learning and safe spaces for startups to experiment. Unfortunately, Ebonyi State is yet to witness an opening of a workspace, hub or an incubator at large.
How do you learn or work? I asked
“I and other developers work from school, our classroom. We nicked named it “Hyperpoint Hub” because it’s where we usually meet for our meetups and other engagements” Precious Ngwube, an Android developer told 4kreport.
Working from school isn’t in isolation of having its own problems.
“Power is a problem around here. The school runs on a generator and we work mostly on weekends, since it’s not during school hours, power goes off by 10 am. When it goes off, someone volunteers their generator then we contribute to fuel it or for some weekends when the light goes off, we go home,” he said.
Few parts of Ebonyi State have an OK power supply and that includes Abakaliki town. However, most developers here work from home, barbing saloons or any computer centre provided there’s power.
Groups, Communities and Meetups
There are software developers in Ebonyi State and when two or more are gathered, there’s an ecosystem of developers. So what exactly brings them together? In Ebonyi, not so much. In fact, they’ve only been two tech community meetings in Ebonyi State.
There’s the Andela Learning Community(ALC) programme with only two versions held in three locations- Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike, Federal Polytechnic Uwana and a Computer Centre in Abakaliki – with students making up 99% of the categories of individuals in attendance.
If you paid close attention to South-South and South-East’s Twitter tech community, The Abakaliki Tech meetup was held on the second day of the month of February 2019. It was the first of it’s kind.
“The idea was to review some of the things we learnt from Genesys ignite, GDG Enugu and StartupAnambra and how we can implement some of them to bring technology in its full force down to Ebonyi State,” Precious told 4kreport
Aside ALC and the Abakaliki tech meet up, no other tech meetups have been held and there are no identifiable communities for other sides of tech that’s not software development. Efforts have been made to have a Google Developers Group chapter in Abakaliki or Developers Student Club in schools.
Ebonyi is the least state in the South-East to get hooked with the tech trend but it’s not late.
This month marks the moment Ebonyi began growing its tech community and having a voice of its own. What it needs now is a path to more learning resources, more tech communities and active presence on the internet.
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