If I could describe the Nigerian technology ecosystem in 2016, I would choose one term; a vibrant awakening.
Sure, the tech space has bubbled for a while, particularly in the main hot-spots. This year, however, was the one where the stories moved from blogs to pitch floors, board rooms and capital investments.
That growth has been fueled by a host of individuals who strive to make the dreams of the Nigerian techie a reality.
Without much ado, here are, in no particular order, our 10 most influential people in Nigerian tech for the past year.
1. Omobola Johnson
A staple of tech panels across the country, her years of experience and undeniable expertise influence decisions and trends across the board.
2. Iyinoluwa Aboyeji
Since then, he has left his executive role at Andela to start Flutterwave, a payments processing platform that has already handled over 70 million dollars in transactions.
3. Maya Horgan-Famodu
Between getting Silicon valley pioneers to provide mentorship and bringing funding from Ycombinator and other major funds, Maya is bridging the gap between Nigerian tech startups and the world’s deep pockets.
4. Jason Njoku
This year, IROKO secured 19 million dollars in funding from the French company, Canal+. One of its newer arms, ROK studios has also made its debut on digital television. He is also the head of Spark, the accelerator that produced hotels.ng and ogavenue.
5. Bankole Oluwafemi
Anyone who knows Bankole will tell you he is the ecosystem’s biggest evangelist, and he has shared the message this year like no-one else has.
6. Bosun Tijani
In June this year, Mark Zuckerberg made a surprise visit to the hub in what was a co-sign for his continuing role in the growth of Nigerian tech. Bosun is also a founder of Truppr, a social event and fitness platform.
7. Harry ‘Tomi Davies
As a leader in the Lagos Angel Network and President of the African Business Angels Network, Tomi has led mentorship, cross-pollination and over two million dollars in investment in startups.
If you’re a Nigerian founder looking to raise money from Africa, Tomi Davies is the guy to meet.
8. Kola Aina
Kola also has his hands in other waters; he is the CEO of Emerging platforms, a firm that provides tech-based solutions across various sectors.
9. Mark Essien
This takes nothing from the business side, though; just this year, his company raised 10 million dollars from the Dangote Investment Group and 1.2 million dollars from Echo VC and the Omidyar Network.
10. Sim Shagaya
Apart from keeping the e-commerce flag flying, he is also the biggest employer of talent, specifically coders and developers, in the tech space.
In the coming year, we expect that startups and the ecosystem will move their focus from capital to building viable businesses. If that’s anything to go by, then 2017 might just be the year of the CEO.