Governor Sanwo-Olu spoke at the official opening of the Space in Ikeja, Lagos, explaining that American Spaces have been used more strategically in the global interest to inform, empower and inspire positive action for generations of young people and professionals around the world.
Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by his Special Adviser on Sustainable Development Goals and Investment, Mrs. Solape Hammond, disclosed that the facility is open to citizens who intend to explore the American society’s culture, policies, politics, history, literature as well as business and will complement the government’s efforts towards enhancing the development of innovative ideas.
While noting that the location will serve as a creative hub for journalists, academics, businesses, civic organisations, teachers, students, government officials and other institutions, Sanwo-Olu said, “We see the value of this relationship in the development of the Lagos tech ecosystem, which has become a modern-day phenomenon as the State is now ranked best Startup Ecosystem in Africa ahead of Cape Town, Nairobi and Cairo; and 99th in the world by StartupBlink’s 2019 Global Startup Ecosystem Rankings”.
Emphasising the potential of the State as one of the richest places on earth, the Governor averred that Lagos State, which has one of the youngest, most talented and creative populations in the world, is investing in human capital development to secure the future.
Speaking on the contributions of the State Government to the development of the tech ecosystem, Sanwo-Olu explained that presentation of a Startup Bill, enhancement of technology infrastructure, provision of grants to startups and low-interest loans to hubs are some of the contributions already made by the present administration.
His words: “In our quest to continue adopting local solutions to emerging tech challenges and expand access to the innovation market, the State is in collaboration to develop Africa’s largest tech zone with some of the largest tech companies in the world under the Yaba Knowledge Innovation Technology Entrepreneurship (KITE) Technology Hub project”.
“While we have committed 0.5-1% of the State’s Budget to tech development and provided grants and investments in excess of N200 million to 41 researchers and startups, the State has also established a University of Science and Technology as well as integrated technology into all levels of education, including Primary, Secondary, Vocational and Tertiary institutions”, he added.
The Governor maintained that the strong interface of education and technology propelled by the Centre is the critical cornerstone of development which is conceptualised in his administration’s T.H.E.M.E.S development agenda.
Commending the U.S Embassy and Consulate in Nigeria, Governor Sanwo-Olu revealed that the government will continue to strengthen partnership with the institution through her developmental programmes.
Earlier in her opening address, the U.S Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, applauded the State Government for its drive towards establishing and supporting structures for creativity and innovation to thrive across the State.
She stated that the purpose of the centre is beyond pushing the ideals of the U.S government but also supporting the host government and her citizens to create a better society.
The event was attended by dignitaries including the State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso; Commissioner for Science and Technology, Mr. Hakeem Fahm; Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Sustainable Development Goals and Investment, Mr. Lekan Fatodu; CEO, VentureGardens Group, Mr. Bunmi Akinyemiju; Managing Partner, VentureGardens Group, Mr. Kunmi Demuren and members of the U.S diplomatic community as well as other stakeholders.