When five thousand young Africans arrived in Lagos last month they became the latest wave of a Nigerian entrepreneur’s dream to create one million new jobs. Tony Elumelu’s ten-year programme wants to develop a new generation of young Africans who will set up their own businesses and in turn create new employment opportunities. It’s another element in a wave of initiatives which is making Nigeria the entrepreneurial heart of Africa.
After Elumelu’s project was launched it gained a lot of traction among investors. A highly publicised visit to Nigeria by Mark Zuckerberg followed whose Chan Zuckerberg Initiative invested $24 million in Andela, a Nigerian engineering firm that is building the next generation of African technical experts. Facebook has also launched FreeBasics in Nigeria and early next year will bring together five thousand start-up founders and investors at the influential Techpoint Build West Africa gathering.
Nigeria still faces many challenges, including a consistent power supply to support the booming technology sector. The ongoing insurgency from Boko Haram in the north and corruption continue to scar Nigeria’s global reputation. But a look beyond the headlines and the stereotypes reveals a more positive and energetic Nigeria that by 2045 will have a greater population than the USA, and will be the largest economy on a continent which will have a larger workforce than China or India.