A huge spanner in the works

A Not-So-Brief History Of Govt Malevolence In Africa’s Brightest Tech Scene

By  |  August 19, 2021

As the day’s papers hit the stands on that Sunday morning of March 28, there was something about the headline and the fifteen faces on the front page of THIS DAY, one of Nigeria’s prominent newspapers, that was particularly salient.

It seemed like a break from the usual, vapid, daily doses of interminable political hysteria and unending reports of security lapses that almost perpetually dominate the front page of most Nigerian dailies.

This time, it was a story highlighting progress, or at least that was the intention. It felt a little strange because this was about a specific kind of progress that local newspapers have never seemed that much interested in.

“Tech, Nigeria’s New Oil” was the title of the lead story and to drive it home, a photo collage of some of the most recognised founders in the Nigerian tech startup scene - Mitchell Elegbe, Odunayo Eweniyi, Iyin Aboyeji, Bilkiss Adebiyi-Abiola, Olugbenga Agboola, Shola Akinlade, etc - was plastered on the front page.

At face value, that piece should only come across as a welcome mainstream representation of Nigeria’s booming tech scene; awash with visionary founders, innovative startups, swelling capital, bullish local and foreign investors, and big-deal milestones.

However, to a significant extent, that seemingly innocuous headline rubbed off on certain parties in the Nigerian tech industry as something rather ominous.

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