No forecast saw just how different 2020 will be in the Nigerian and global tech space. The ongoing pandemic has revealed the importance of tech on a whole new level, especially with the revolution on how people live and work.
There is barely any aspect of life without a small dose of technology
Despite the plethora of challenges the year offered, the Nigerian tech space still saw major growth. Although the whole sector worked together to achieve this, there are several people in the space who put in a lot of work and energy and made an outstanding impact worthy of recognition.
From revolutionizing banking and healthcare to leveraging the power of social media for change and helping startups grow, each of these people has focused on and accomplished very different and impactful things in the tech space.
Temie Giwa-Tubosun, founder and CEO of Lifebank has been one of the influential tech leaders this year because of her contributions to the fight against COVID-19.
Her healthtech company, LifeBank, launched drive-in testing centres in Lagos and Oyo States. It also partnered with the Oyo State government and Dan Holdings to make oxygen available freely to COVID-19 patients in the state.
Temie won the award for the global business leader at the 2020 Global Citizen Prize. She was also recently named as one of the 15 tech founders in the 2020 list of 100 Most Influential Young Africans by Avance Media and Africa Youth Awards.
Dr Isa Pantami
Since his appointment as the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy last year, Dr Isa Pantami has issued several new directives and regulation that has significantly impacted the telecoms space in the country.
Some of the changes Pantami has made this year include the reduction of the cost of a USSD session of 20 seconds from N4.86 to N1.63. He also negotiated the reduction of right of way charge from N4,500 to N145 in several states including Imo and Ekiti.
Most recently, the minister charged the NCC to carry out a comprehensive audit of the Subscriber Registration Database. This led to the suspension of SIM sales and registration and consequent NIN/SIM integration exercise.
In general, Pantami with directives and policies has shown willingness to listen to the voice of the masses. The latest scrapping ₦20 NIN retrieval charge and extension of NIN/SIM integration deadline are good examples.
Odunayo Eweniyi, co-founder and COO of PiggyVest stood out this year for the work and effort she and the Feminist Coalition put into the support of the EndSARS protest.
Odunayo and other members of the coalition were at the forefront of the protest which impacted all sectors including the tech space. The successful scrapping of the rogue antirobbery squad not only curbed police brutality but also showed how social media can be used to power change.
She repeatedly tweeted in support of the #EndSARS movement and also coordinated the Flutterwave fund raised towards the protest.
Similarly, her company PiggyVest expressed support for the #EndSARS protests.
The pandemic significantly affected the funding landscape this year. However, Yele Gbadamosi’s Microtraction rose above the challenges of the pandemic to invest in several Nigerian tech companies.
Startups that benefited for the Microtraction this year include Evolve Credit, Plentywaka, Chaka and Gradely. They each received Microtraction reviewed $25,000 for 7% equity deal.
As a Director at Binance, the world’s virtual currency exchange platform, Yele introduced a host of features, like the latest Ripple trading pair for the Naira, that have helped trading in cryptocurrency easier for Nigerians.
He joined the EndSARS protest both on the street and online. He also donated N500,000 to the feminist coalition fund.
Shola Akinlade and Ezra Olubi
Paystack co-founders, Shola Akinlade (CEO) and Ezra Olubi (CTO) are some of the biggest winners in the tech space this year.
The acquisition of Paystack by Stripe in a deal reportedly worth over $200 million (₦76.6 billion), is the biggest Nigerian startup acquisition to date.
This year the startup also added several new features and products including Shopify integration for Ghana businesses; Paystack Commerce, integrated with Craft and Wix, and a Merchant App.
It also supported the EndSARS campaign with a donation of N1 million to the Flutterwave Feminist’s Coalition fund.
A lot happened in the bike-hailing space this year and Country Head for SafeBoda in Nigeria, Babajide Duroshola, played a significant role, not just in the success of his organisation, but also in the survival of bike-hailing in Nigeria.
His early insight of starting the startups’ expansion into Nigeria from Ibadan and not Lagos helped the company evade the unfortunate ban that affected many startups in the space.
As it stands, SafeBoda appears to be the strongest bike-hailing startup in the country.
Babajide has also championed the new wave of popularity and adoption of ride-hailing in the Oyo state capital. Also, He as well as SafeBoda showed considerable support for the EndSARS protest.
Talking about the bike-hailing sector, a not so honourable mention is the impact of Sanwo-Olu’s Lagos state government on the startups in the space. The governor’s okada ban imposed on the state forced most of the startups to port into new verticals like logistics and food delivery.
Before then, the bike-hailing market was a vibrant sector that was driving in investment from both foreign and local investors.
In summary, the 6 people on this list are some of the guys we believe had some of the more significant impact on the Nigerian Tech space this year, as extensively debated by Technext editorial team. Who did we miss?
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