2016 has been a game-changing year for Nigerian technology. After years of hard work silently building systems and structures, the spotlight finally fell on the ecosystem this year and it was for all the right reasons.
From billion-dollar surprise visits to startup success stories, we present the five biggest moments that defined Nigerian tech in 2016.
1. Mark Zuckerberg’s visit to Lagos
Apart from settling the Jollof wars for the rest of eternity, Zuckerberg’s visit was the first time a major Silicon Valley founder would go beyond interviews and infographics to see the reality of Nigeria’s tech space firsthand.
In addition to visiting the premier incubator, Co-Creation Hub in Yaba, Zuckerberg visited Andela, as well as policy makers in the Nigerian government.
2. Andela gets 24 million dollars from the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative
In June, tech accelerator Andela raised 24 million dollars in Series B funding from the initiative led by Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan.
For a company built as recently as September 2014, to equip and connect Nigerian coders, it was always going to be a big deal. More importantly, this was the biggest co-sign for the future of Nigerian tech in 2016 - and it came from none other than the Facebook guy.
3. Iyinoluwa Aboyeji leaves Andela to start Flutterwave
Andela was one of the biggest success stories of this year, and Iyin Aboyeji was the face of that story.
So it was a surprise when he announced he was leaving the company he had helped found. He did well to explain the reasons for his departure in a post on Medium and the beginning of a new chapter; the launch of Flutterwave.
4. Paystack gets enlisted in Ycombinator
Paystack is the brainchild of Ezra Olubi and Shola Akinlade. Ezra describes himself as a veteran, and it's true of his partner too.
In April this year, the startup got enlisted into Ycombinator, a major Silicon Valley incubator and secured 120,000 dollars in seed funding - off a strong belief that they can win the race to provide solutions for Africa’s payment problems.
In many ways, Paystack's story is that of every startup that fought the battle to get funding in 2016.
5. Ventures Platform opens in Abuja
For context, consider this: VP, the North’s first platform was opened just this year, four whole years after CChub opened in Lagos.
What surprised many was that Ventures was not an attempt at inclusion but a necessity; it made us aware of a wealth of developers in the north.
This August, they hosted Ycombinator CEO, Michael Siebel and are creating avenues for startups to grow outside the main hotspots in Lagos.
Our prediction for next year? Nigeria's technology is riding a big wave; there are problems and the talent to build the companies that will solve them. 2017 promises even bigger moments, there's not much we can do but wait.