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Computer Village dealers back N40bn Katangowa project

.ICT hub ’ll boot sector’s contributions to GDP, says Developer

The new Katangowa ICT Park being built by Bridgeways

Market dealers at Nigeria’s largest ICT hub popular known as Computer Village have thrown their weight behind the planned relocation of the market to a new ultra-modern hub being built at the Katangowa area of Lagos State. According to the dealers, the new project valued at N40 billion, which has been assessed by the traders would leapfrog the market beyond the current N1.5 billion daily revenue.

Speaking with our correspondent, the Chairman, Coalition of Computer Village Associations, Timi David, said all the various sub groups including Computer dealers, phone dealers, Engineers, among others have all unanimously endorsed the project and are ready to move once it is completed. He noted that the new hub, apart from offering every trader the opportunity to own a shop, would rescue the market from the current imposed market leader.

“The new ICT hub does not give room for the so called Iyaloja, which was recently imposed on the Computer Village. It is an ICT hub that is compared to the United State’s Sillicon Valley, where beyond trading in ICT products, people come up with innovations that will help the country develop economically,” he said.

He said the associations have recognized that funding may pose a challenge for the members to relocate, hence, they have struck a deal with Sterling Bank to fund their shop acquisition through a non-interest loan, which they can repay over seven years.

Present day Computer-Village Ikeja

Speaking on the benefits of the project to the economy, the Chief Executive Officer of Bridgeways, the developer of the hub, Architect Jimmy Onyemenam said the ICT Park, which construction was flagged off recently would increase the contributions of the Computer Village to the economy and boosts the ICT sector’s contributions to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). He added that the hub would boost the growing technology agglomeration, which is evident in the growth of incubation centres, start-ups, technologydriven solutions and increasing investment in the industry.

“The ICT Park housing facilities such as the 8-unit industrial park (manufacturing blocks/warehouses), IT Incubators and ICT training centre, stalls for rentage, exhibition halls, housing estates, etc. will contribute significantly to National economic growth and development, based on the local economy of Lagos State with GSP of $136 billion, growth of Nigerian start-ups (total funding of $9.2 million raised in Q1 2018), and other opportunities for growth.

“The current Computer Village accommodates over 5,000 businesses employing about 50,000 youth however these figures will increase given the ICT facilities that exist in the proposed Katangowa ICT Park including the industrial park for manufacturing and assembly of technology and allied products, incubation and knowledge centres, stalls, etc. The ICT Park will contribute to reduction of the high unemployment rate in Nigeria.

Onyemenam said that the growing technology penetration in Nigeria could result in more gains as the country has been projected to become Sub-Saharan Africa’s outsourcing location for basic services, adding that these gains could be leveraged on by the establishment of the ICT Park for more ICT development given the facilities present in the hub.

“The presence of the industrial park, incubation, and knowledge centres will significantly affect skills transfer, causing resultant effects on human capacity development for contribution to economic growth and development. Human resources development will be harnessed by the ICT Park through the manufacturing and assemblage hub, leading to increase in industrial capacity utilisation and increase in human capital development,” he added.

According to him, the Park would also generate exports for the country and serve as a source of forex earnings for the economy.

Explaining why the project has dragged for almost 12 years, Onyemenam said the idea of a new site for the Computer Village was muted in the last year of the Bola Tinubu administration and carried on to the Babatunde Fashola’s regime when 32 companies were invited to bid for its execution. While noting that the process of appointing a developer took almost three years, he said the government bureaucracies continued until last year when the current administration in the state demolished the site and officially handed it over to the developers.

“Even in the heat of COVID-19 and the EndSARS crisis last year, we were working. But right now, things will move a little faster, because we don't have much dependence on government bureaucracies or third parties, it's now squarely on our shoulder, so you will see things move at lightning speed. We are businessmen, and we can't afford to borrow and sit on the money,” he said.

Onyemenam disclosed that the project which officially commenced in June with the official flag-off ceremony, would be completed in 24 months, that is, by 2023. All traders at the popular Computer Village in Ikeja are expected to move to the new site once the project is completed.

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