As northerners, we are most familiar with those looks of disdain thrown in our direction, because unfortunately for us we somehow ended up as the representatives of ignorance and poverty, the so called mallam or aboki is just a walking billboard that says 'NO ENGLISH', a derogatory phrase in Nigeria and other parts of the world. So it came as a wild surprise when young people sprung from all over Northern Nigeria to support it’s culture, history, economy, and development towards the future.
Tech hubs, incubation labs, thousands of small startups suddenly took home in the Northern part of the country, it almost felt like the renaissance of the North. These young people, mostly of the millennial age group have become the movers and shakers, the leaders of a prominently growing movement, and their greatest ally, seems to be technology.
The Case of Tech
The rise of tech enthusiasts isn’t an isolated incident, it is happening all over the world. Where people are adopting the connectivity of the internet and transforming it into something useful to benefit their society, we have seen it happening in the Philippines, South Africa, Brazil, Singapore, and even Europe.
Small startups and individuals are incorporating technology, mostly in the form of web-based mobile apps to solve their everyday problems. One such example is in Kenya, where an app called PlantVillage was developed to tell farmers how their crops are developing using satellite data.
The saying global problems need local solutions, is not too far from the truth, because right here in Arewa, we are witnessing the rise of locally created apps and locally grown businesses, as young entrepreneurs are challenging the status qou, and generating new ideas to solve our everyday problems.
The Champions of Arewa
Although the story of each game changer usually started as an individual simply running his/her business, or even started out as a fun activity like it is with most coders and developers, now Arewa Northerners have learnt to assemble as members of a team to achieve their goals faster, and to help spread to like-minded people their budding ideals namely, saving this part of the world.
Enovate Lab located at Kano, is one such popular strong point where the youths come together to discuss and shape the future, some of their programs include hosting entrepreneurial events and teaching kids how to code. It is a salient move by the founders of this establishment to help educate and improve Arewa.
Many such examples exist now, such as Bauchi's UpliftHub, Yola's Yola Entrepreneur’s Hub and Kirkira Hub, where extraordinary progress is being made in creating disruptive economies, mostly by providing funding, mentorship and acceleration programs for new startups and businesses.
All of these and more herald by the respective denizens of our homeland whom comprise authors such as Farida Yahya, activists such as AlhaniIslam, entrepreneurs such as Khalil Yahya, and illustrious giants like the able Muhammad Jega, founder StartupArewa, whose organization I am partial to, for pretty obvious reasons.
Their Instagram bio read,
“Building a sustainable Northern tech ecosystem, and unlocking the potentials of the region. Creating a techpreneurial hub capable for economic impact.”
These tech aficionados are striving all of them, towards a sustainable economy where technology, science, nature, the environment and ‘culture’ coexist mutually.
I have been to the old headquarters of UpliftHub, a creative/tech hub in Bauchi state, and I must say the atmosphere was electric with creative energy. Young chaps flew from one end of the hall to the other, exchanging and corroborating ideas, learning and growing, some where hunched over their laptops, viciously typing down on their keyboards, and some others where in groups, learning to design and such.
This right here, in the story of our destitute lives, is the plot representing the new economy, the new ruling power, and those in the thick of it are going to become without doubt, the next relevant citizens of Nigeria.
If having a bunch of super motivated young people (err. . . nerds) come together in unity was once a dream, well this dream is becoming true. Efforts are being made to increase technological impact throughout our social lives, thanks to these tech champions, ably restoring faith and hope once had in this great nation.
Personally, I am an avid follower of tech and creative endeavors, also an advocate of Arewa living, and what I am witnessing right now, cannot unfold more beautifully.