It's a new year and no one expects the 'bubbling' Nigerian tech scene to slow down, but no one knows what will happen for sure.
2016 was a big year for tech in Nigeria.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg visited (and had lots of nice things to say), Michael Siebel and Qasar Younis of Y Combinator (the world's most successful startup accelerator) also dropped by our dear country, and startups like Paystack and Flutterwave made international headlines. What a year, right?
Now, it's a new year and no one expects the 'bubbling' Nigerian tech scene to slow down, but no one knows what will happen for sure.
Still, we have to expect the industry to continue to grow, definitively, and to that end, here are my predictions for Nigerian tech in 2017:
1. There will be more data (available and shared): The unavailability of data has not just been a tech problem - it's been a Nigerian problem. I see that changing, to some extent, this year. Nigerian founders and tech stakeholders are realising the importance of data and how it can propel the growth of the ecosystem even further.
We are just nine days into 2017, and people like iROKO's Jason Njoku and Paga's Tayo Oviosu have already given us some interesting numbers to chew on (although you can say these two have sort of always shared their data anyway, but you get the point).
2. The government will make more bullsh*t promises and f*ck us over with more daft policies: That sounds like Pastor Adeboye saying there will be more marriages this year but you get the point.
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3. We'll see more foreign investment: Yes, Nigeria's business climate does not exactly support this theory but Paystack still raised $1.3 million. Tech investment is a game of risks where nothing is guaranteed (look at all the promising startups that got big-money backers but are dead in the water today) and investors know this so yes, watch for more foreign (and local) investment in Nigerian tech this year.
4. Interest in AI, AR and VR will increase substantially: First, I have to give props to the people at Imisi 3D(they have been relentless in their VR gospel). That aside, I think interest in the areas I mentioned will grow considerably. People have been building Slack/Facebook bots for some time now and Eat Drink Lagos, the food blog, announced a cool new bot as 2017 began.
AR and VR may not have any proven/viable use cases in Nigeria (yet), but the amount of VR buzz generated last year says a lot. The world is also only just coming to terms with this technology and its workings so that will also play a part.
As the VR and AI space gets more and more consumer-facing (people like Iyin Aboyeji and Papa Olabode already use the Amazon Echo), interest is bound to spike in Nigeria. Plus, the sheer intrigue of the technology should not be overestimated (I've seen wild reactions to even a low-end setup like the Google Cardboard).
5. The rest of Nigeria (outside Lagos, Abuja and Kaduna) will get more involved in the ecosystem: There are already stories of great technology system and interesting ecosystems emerging from those areas and I see a consolidation this year. Also, communities are growing in places like Jos, Calabar, Port Harcourt, and some pockets of Eastern Nigeria. This trend is something I will be especially curious to watch.
What are your own predictions for tech in Nigeria in 2017? Drop them in the comments section or tweet at me @TheFolarin! May the force be with us all!