As the world changes, we are confronted with new problems and challenges in our communities. Technology has been a useful tool employed to solve many of these problems in our society. However, Africa has yet to fully utilize the opportunities through technology to solve not only new challenges but also the old ones that have been eradicated in developed nations. Through the proper investment in tech institutions that provide the much-needed space for startups to thrive, a lot of social and economic impediments in many cities and communities at the grassroots could be overcome. This is where JD Lab comes in as an instrument of change functioning as a tech innovation hub to provide the space for solution-driven ideas for startups and entrepreneurs to flourish – especially in Northern Nigeria through the launch of its innovation hub called Labspace.
JD Lab is a Technology and Innovation Hub with years of experience in building inspiring solutions and developing products for improving the educational sector. It focuses on community innovation and collaboration across Africa by providing support to emerging Tech talents to solve problems with a focus on Northern Nigeria.
Labspace is a platform under JD Lab that helps narrow its African impact objectives down to Northern Nigeria – the most populous region of Nigeria with a gross deficit in the presence of tech hubs to solve its problems.
Labspace will cater for a community of innovators, entrepreneurs and startups by providing access to capacity-building programs and training, coworking space, mentorship, business development, funding opportunities and access to a network of like-minds and industry experts using the educational sector to create awareness, discover talents for training as future innovators and founders of startups to accelerate growth and development of communities in their region.
Changing Narratives in Minna, Niger State
JD Lab is located in Minna, the capital of Niger State. Its Labspace will focus on changing the mindset towards creative ideas and their development starting from the educational sector. The long-run effect will see young talents incubated under the training provided by Labspace and go on to be pacesetters in terms of building startups, tech businesses and other innovations to add to what contributes to making Minna shift from just a salary-driven local economy to a commercial self-sufficient and independent one irrespective of the federal allocation it receives.
Through partnerships with universities in Minna and its environs, as well as other higher educational institutions in the State, Labspace will serve as a hub to groom the students with tech creative ideas and innovation plans to back them up.
It also plans to partner with public institutions, Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) for the implementation of more Tech hubs as it sets out to transform the tech ecosystem in Niger State and in Northern Nigeria.
Through interest-free financial institutions, Labspace as a hub aims to provide easy access to seed funds for early-stage startups to take off their projects.
Phases of Implementation
Through three phases, Labspace will roll out its plans to create that safe tech haven in Minna and its environs.
Phase One: This phase entails creating a coworking space where individuals with creative ideas, like-minds and innovators will interact and share ideas, networking as a unit in an environment with necessary work amenities to make them feel comfortable and increase their efficiency in the learning process to create more value outputs.
Phase Two: The next phase is the implementation of the innovation hub after providing the space. It also includes partnerships for innovation, entrepreneurship and capacity development to create a substantial impact on the next generation.
Phase Three: The last phase is the take-off stage – projection of the innovative ideas in concrete forms like Startup Schools, Tech cities and communities through problem-solving in their impact functions.
Changing Narratives in Northern Nigeria
Northern Nigeria is famous for not only being the most populous region in Nigeria but also having the highest poverty ratio among other regions.
According to recent statistics of StatiSense (from the National Bureau of Statistics), about 133 million of Nigeria’s 206 million population are poor. Northern Nigeria accounts for 86.1 million of them while the Southern part of Nigeria is 48.1 million.
If the poverty population of the Northern zone is further broken down, the North-West figure stands at 45.5 million, the North-East taking 20.5 million and the North-Central accounting for 20.2 million.
Recently, Lagos State Government through the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with eTransact, a fintech company, It is not a coincidence that Lagos State houses up to 50% of Tech hubs in Nigeria and still had the Internally Generated Revenue (418.988 billion Naira) which was more than the 19 States in Northern Nigeria put together (385.182 billion Naira) in 2021.
This shows how the presence of tech hubs can accelerate development and boost the economic base of cities they thrive in. More reason why more of them need to be invested in Northern Nigeria to solve the problem of not only poverty but others like quality education, stable power supply, improved healthcare services and agriculture as well.
JD Lab through Labspace plans to broaden its scope to extend its tech innovation revolution in Northern Nigeria to other States aside from Minna and Abuja.
Some of the major impacts Labspace focuses on are key areas with respect to solving the regional developmental challenges slowing down the growth of Northern Nigeria when tech solutions are employed.
Economic Impact on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) through Startups and Job Creation: Startups and entrepreneurial businesses not only provide jobs for people, but they also add to the total GDP, which further improves economic growth in the long run.
Gender Inclusivity/Closing the gap: Labspace is a women-led innovation hub, the hub looks to provide equal opportunities for the female gender taking note of the gender gap for women in tech and the disparity when compared to other regions. This deliberate inclusion will help empower and encourage more young women with the attitude to take part in the growth and development of their communities.
Decentralisation/Diversity: With 50% of tech hubs centralised in Lagos, Labspace will help spread the growth to other regions of the country especially Northern Nigeria which is in dire need of it to accelerate and facilitate its growth process.
Skills: Labspace will use its coworking space as a platform for breeding, grooming, incubating and development of individuals, creative minds, and tech initiatives to grow into startups, innovators and entrepreneurs well-equipped with trained skills to make their impacts in cities and places they are set up to making a difference.
Labspace will transcend the aforementioned targets through the core guiding frameworks of Sustainability, Ideation, Learning, Inclusion and Networking by providing a platform for easy access to mentorship and industry experts.
Labspace at the global level, has a vision to be the leading innovation network, improving change in the African Entrepreneurship and Startup development ecosystem.
With a lot of its focus in Niger State – its birthplace and Northern Nigeria, Labspace sees a lot of prospects in the region and many human potentials waiting to be given the much-needed space to flourish. It looks to encourage the participation of teeming youth in the private sector and the entrepreneurship sector. Finally, It looks to change the narratives and plight of the poverty-plagued region with investment in tech hubs and startups as catalysts towards regional economic growth, development and improvement in the standard of living.