While many industries around the world were hampered by the global pandemic, the technology space in Nigeria and Africa as a whole has had an investment boom over the past two years, says telecommunications, media, and technology (TMT) expert Adeleke Alex-Adedipe.
Alex-Adedipe is Managing Partner of Duale, Ovia & Alex-Adedipe (DOA), an award-winning firm in Lagos and Abuja, with strong TMT expertise. Like Africa’s tech ecosystem, DOA has grown rapidly over the last few years and continued to thrive during the pandemic.
“The social restriction actually changed a lot of things,” said Alex-Adedipe. “There seem to be a lot of products out there that are just waiting to be financed. In Nigeria, the fintech sector, particularly mobile payment solution providers, saw a vast increase in usage. Many unbanked users sought alternative payment solutions in the wake of the pandemic and lockdown. And I’ll tell you for free that I don’t think we’ve fully cracked the surface of that business yet.”
Alex-Adedipe, along with colleagues like senior associate Chika Oke, has worked on numerous technology startup launches and investment funding rounds during the pandemic.
“In this evolution where tech startups come up with fantastic ideas, we have to ensure that they are operating and we’re also advising them on the day-to-day of their operation,” explained Alex-Adedipe. “We ensure they’re within the ambits of regulatory cover, there are no breaches, and we provide them with services while they stay busy building their products.”
There has been a lot of activity and tremendous growth in funding in the tech space in Nigeria and across Africa during the pandemic. Alex-Adedipe and Oke referred to a Disrupt Africa annual report that showed 2021 “was a record-breaking one for African tech startups, with 564 companies securing over US$2 billion worth of investment”.
The tech boom has spread across industries and sectors, including the legal sector.
“From the onset, most technology products were fintech, but now we have more agri-tech, more health tech, more products hitting the market,” shared Alex-Adedipe. “Most importantly, these innovations have bolstered the confidence for the investment we now see. And I think the space is still very big. I think that this technology we talk about is still very young in Nigeria and Africa. So, basically, there are still a lot of changes we will expect.”
When it comes to legal tech that can affect how law firms work and the types of products that can be created to make life easier for lawyers, DOA is not only an early adopter, but is also involved with innovative products that are still in the pipeline, ensuring they come to life.
“We are constantly sitting, meeting and in conversations with people who are building products,” said Oke. “We see those people all the time. Some of them we work with. It’s great to know that there is a lot that is being built that will change the dynamics and change our lives. And also, to put it this way, will make life easier for us.”
The pair believe Africa’s youthful, dynamic population could put the continent at the leading edge in coming years. “It’s a population of young people, so you can expect a lot of innovation, you can expect a lot of adoption of innovation,” added Oke. “So, I expect that if we continue this same trajectory, the sky is the limit for Africa.”
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