Nigeria’s Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo on Friday said the Federal Government is including technology start-ups and businesses in the list of businesses eligible for tax holidays, The Nation reported.
Osinbajo made the statement in Lagos while commissioning Vibranium Valley, a hub for technology and innovation start-ups described as the largest in sub-Saharan Africa.
The Vice President said Vibranium Valley, established by Venture Garden Group, could become Nigeria’s next innovation cluster housing tech firms devoted to talent, data and entrepreneurship.
Vibranium Valley, located within the expansive grounds of the former Concord Newspaper Headquarters in Ikeja, consists of “world-class office spaces” fully furnished to meet the needs of up to 50 tech start-ups.
It is the brainchild of Vibranium Valley’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Bunmi Akinyemiju and Executive Director Kunmi Demuren and already houses “over 20 tech-driven companies.”
The Vice President, who delivered a keynote address on The role of technology and entrepreneurship in nation building, praisedtech innovators for providing “technology-driven solutions to some of the most difficult development problems confronting us today.”
Osinbajo said: “Today’s event is devoted to talent, data and entrepreneurship. These three things represent the Vibranium of Africa.
“Vibranium Valley, similar to Yaba, could be the next Innovation Cluster where mature tech companies can be housed, to drive the industrial revolution, and exports of ‘innovation’ for the country.
“On the part of government, we are putting our money where our mouth is. We believe it is our role to provide the environment where innovation can thrive, so, we are including technology start-ups and businesses in our list of businesses eligible for pioneer status and that means tax holidays.
“Also both the Central Bank and the Bank of Industry are working on intervention funds and loans for technology start-ups, while we have till date opened about three state-of-the art technology hubs. These are government-supported technology hubs.”
The hubs include the Northeast humanitarian technology hub in Yola, Adamawa State, which specialises in innovation for victims of conflict. The South-south innovation hub in Benin, Edo State and the climate change technology hub to be launched at the Pan African University, Lagos.
Osinbajo noted “the hand of providence” in Vibranium Valley’s location.
He said: “This place where we are today for many years the housed Concord Press, a once highly successful national newspaper owned by Chief MKO Abiola GCFR posthumous, winner of the June 12 1993 presidential election.
“Abiola’s campaign slogan was hope and the eradication of poverty, but the enemies of our freedoms and democracy thought that they had killed that dream by the annulment of the election and complete destruction of the Concord Newspapers. But they were wrong.
“…Today we celebrate the trees that have grown from the seeds that were buried here. The hope that they thought they killed has risen again, through the young men and women, some of whom were not even born when that travesty was committed. So, Concord was only the foundation for Vibranium.”
Abiola’s son, Abdul, prostrated before Osinbajo and thanked him for his support to the family in his days as Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice.
Akinyemiju, who described Vibranium Valley as the “Campus”, said it would serve as a hub for tech startups which “will build an entrepreneur ecosystem, where people can be inspired to create companies and ultimately be able to create employment.
“Nigeria needs to take disruptive approaches to development challenges in infrastructure, financial inclusion and education to become the Africa’s first ‘start-up nation.’
Guests at the event included Special Advisor to the President on National Social Investment Programmes (NSIP), Mrs Maryam Uwais, former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador Robin Sanders, CEO and executive secretary of the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), Akin Oyebode, Former Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr Harold Demuren, among others.