20 Most Innovative People In The Nigerian Tech Space (Top Rated)

In Africa Today, Nigeria’s Tech eco system is the most admired and talked about. This is so unexpected and surprising –because regardless of the fact that Nigeria is both Africa’s largest economy and most populous nation, Its tech eco system is also considered the driving force to the liberation of education among africans, the value of human lives, stability of economic growth, transparency and accountability of works in Africa.

In every system or Hub, There are pillars and solid individuals that hold all the cards in place. For Nigerian Tech, these are the amazing individuals on this list that makes up the 20 people who ensure and play significant roles in building and shaping the Eco-system and enabling it run effectively.

The impact of these awesome individuals are next to none as i’ve read about some of them and others just wowed me over and over again, to be honest i really do wish i’ve got the opportunity to have a sit on with any of them even if its just for a minute that because i do believe that a little word of advice or an intern with them could move a huge impact to me and a couple of other people too. With that being said their influence within the nation, and how passionate they are about the evolution of the eco-system. All these were among the factors considered together to be able to make this list a reality.

20 most important people in Nigerian tech nigeriantech.com.ng

They all spread across these categories: Founders/entrepreneurs, policy, community forces & investment. You need to be aware that some of the names you’ll get to see on this list are CEO’s that control groups and companies whose infrastructure are the bedrock of our ecosystem and yo!! we should be thankful to have them incredible minds amongst us. These are the people who stand up for integrity and are aiding in putting Africa on the map.

ENTREPRENEURS

1 . MITCHELL ELEGBE- CEO & FOUNDER, INTERSWITCH GROUP

Mitchell Elegbe is the number one person on our list and a very jovial and down to earth individual most times, when you see him you can’t miss recognizing him because of his glasses and cheerful facial expression. He heads and Nigeria’s largest and most important payment company, Interswitch, which was founded in 2002 long before the Tech startup and trends surrounding them in these modern times. You know when the Interswitch company was launched, it came out in a time where there was no support and buzz for electronic payment in Nigeria.

Through thick and thin under the intense supervision and control of mr Mitchell in 16years, the interswitch company has embedded itself into Nigeria’s financial service Industry, handling payment and processing transactions for banks and all big companies in Nigeria including the everyday Nigerian. Now that’s something exceptional. The job of these company has enabled Nigerians pay bills, transfer funds, and purchase airtime online in the comfort of their homes anywhere, anytime, any day when there was no one doing this in Africa.

2 . JEREMY JOHNSON – CEO & CO-FOUNDER, ANDELA

While a lot of people might not have heard about ANDELA well,  just so you know because of it’s work in the Nigerian ecosystem and across Africa, the company received an international recognition worth $24 million investment from Mark Zuckerberg.

Jeremy Johnson is the co-founder and CEO of ANDELA the company is involved in the development of tech talent in Nigeria : They improve the value system change to our economy by taking young Nigerians who do not necessarily have software programming skills but have an interest in learning, Andela trains these young Nigerians, builds them up into world class developers. that is  pretty dope if you ask me! i mean an interview with this guy and you’ll be rich in knowledge if you listen to what he has to say.

ANDELA has impacted value to Nigeria as a whole by producing outstanding developers in Nigeria (we are talking hundreds of Nigerians) i’m sure you don’t know the half of it.

Before we go further i’ll like to reference mr david adeleke for giving me an inspiration to put out this piece, this is because when i saw this i was fascinated i never thought we had this amazing intellectuals in our midst and i’m pretty sure a lot of other people too have got no clue who these people are, so on that note i say thank you.

COMMUNITY FORCES:

3 . FOR LOOP AFRICA – DEVELOPER COMMUNITY

In 2016, this community was created and founded in Nigeria by a group of software developers and tech professionals, which is led by Mr Ridwan Olalere, Prosper otemuyiwa, Ire Aderinokun, and Christopher Nwaba. And at the moment it has spread across Africa, As a platform for people to share knowledge, connect with each other and grow to create opportunities in order to advance their career’s together in oneness.

For Loop Africa is the largest developer community across Africa alongside Andela, Hotels.ng’s internship programmes, For Loop Africa are among the largest contributors of Tech talents in Nigeria and Africa at large.

4 . MARK ESSIEN, CEO, HOTELS.NG

Mark Essien is a Nigerian entrepreneur, software developer and startup investor. He is the founder and CEO of Hotels.ng, which is one of the first online hotel booking websites in Nigeria. Mark’s success story with hotels.ng is inspiring and motivating, it is a story that should encourage every nigerian youth.

Through Mark’s Internship programmes, Mark has ensured the grooming and polished ability of some amazing software developers over the years. I have read some of mark’s lucid and something stuck with me the first time i saw this “Don’t ask why you were rejected” and it gave me a motivation of some sort because in my life time i’ve been rejected and told “No” a couple of times, i mean i said to my self its’s their loss in “Mark’s voice” obviously and i came to realize that rejections without explanations can be supremely helpful. So i leave you with this: for everyone reading this right now know that “if you spend a lot of time doing something, hack yourself so you get positive feedback as you work on it”.

This has been my go to motivation of all time by Mark essien, He’s definitely one to have a sit on with.

5 . BOSUN TIJANI & FEMI LONGE – CO-FOUNDERS, (CcHUB) CO-creation Hub

CcHub is the Icon of Tech investment, startup culture, and policy development. Located at no 294 Herbert Macaulay way, yaba Lagos Nigeria. Co-Creation Hub was founded in October 2010 by Bosun Tijani and Femi Longe. It officially opened in September 2011 as a social innovation centre, serving as an open living lab dedicated to accelerating the application of social capital and technology for economic prosperity.

Its methodology is said to be hinged on engaging a community of progressive stakeholders (end-users, subject matter experts, government agencies, businesses, academics, civil societies etc.) who bring their creativity and knowledge to play in co-creating solutions to social challenges faced by the average Nigerian.

At the CcHub, innovations by entrepreneurs are supported through advice, mentorship and funding through the pre-incubation and research unit. The CcHub happens to be one of the few financially sustainable innovation hubs in Africa and is the home to over 50 Nigerian startups, Now that is just incredible!! who ever thought these things are going down right under our bloody noses. This are people we should embrace, support, and propel them to move Nigeria forward.

CcHUB is notable for receiving high profile tech executive and government officials just like the time Mark zuckerberg visited Nigeria in 2016, to check out our eco system guess where is his first stop was at hell yeah!! “The CcHub baby”.

6 . JULIET EHIMUAN – COUNTRY MANAGER, GOOGLE NIGERIA

Through it’s google launchpad programme, it supports startups and nonprofits organizations in the eco-system. Juliet leads the Nigerian office of one of the world’s prominent companies and that puts her on the list of the top 20 most innovative individuals we’ve got in Nigeria today. She is a super woman, priceless and super amazing.

7 . ANIEDI UDO-OBONG, PROGRAM MANAGER, GOOGLE NIGERIA

As google’s program manager, playing core roles in the execution of google DevFest events in Nigeria and across the sub-saharan Africa, pushing and enabling for more google experts in Nigeria, and getting more Nigerians to attend google’s big i/o events. How innovative can some one get, Aniedi  has open doors of opportunities for Nigerian developers and tech talents to the whole wide world, i do believe that this individual should be given a merited award for his contribution immensely to the Nigerian eco- system.

8 . MAYA HORGAN FAMODU – FOUNDER, INGRESSIVE CAPITAL

Maya Horgan Famodu is a Nigerian-American entrepreneur, founder and partner at ingressive capital, a firm that provides market entry, technology research and market operations services for firms and businesses expanding into Africa. she’s a venture capital investor, she is very beautiful, she’s got a cute smile and she founded the ingressive capital firm to bridge the gap between silicon valley investors and the Nigerian tech eco-system.

Maya has been featured on Forbes 30 under 30 list for entrepreneurs, her company the ingressive capital firm creates community building events, hosting and bringing together tech talents while providing a system for them to grow and learn.

INVESTMENTS:

9 . BUNMI AKINYEMIJU AND KUNMI DEMUREN- FOUNDING PARTNERS, GREENHOUSE CAPITAL

Bunmi and Kunmi are the head of greenhouse capital, a venture capital fund focusing on building start-up companies in Nigeria. this dynamic duo are also the executive directors of venture garden group, a company that in part, provides the technology of the aviation sector which tracks flights to and fro the airports in Nigeria and ensures crucial data storage in the process.

What bunmi and kunmi are doing is quite rare and it takes a lot of balls to carry out these works, because not many Nigerian venture capital funds have the balls to invest as much funds into local start-ups as greenhouse capital has done. Having raised an upwards of $40 million (USD) for 15 different start-ups including Flutter wave, Max.ng, Mines.io, and CcHubs’s growth capital fund. I love them already and i’m sure you do too.

10 . KOLA AINA – FOUNDING PARTNER, VENTURES PLATFORM

The founding partner of one of Nigeria’s leading startup investors and eco system builder, Mr Kola Aina is the one who leads venture platform, located at the federal capital territory Abuja. A company as an early stage growth fund that has backed up companies like: piggybank, wifi.com.ng, pay stack among others.

POLICY:

11 . GBENGA SESAN- FOUNDER, PARADIGM INITIATIVE NIGERIA

I love our former president olusegun obasanjo, and between year 2006 to 2008 Gbenga sesan served under his 26-man task force created to restructure government institutions and organizations in the telecommunication and Information Technology sector. Then from 2012 to 2013, he was a member of the Presidential Committee on Roadmap for the Achievement of Accelerated Universal Broadband Infrastructure and Services Provision. A real fighter if you ask me, Mr gbenga Sesan is the founder of Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, a social enterprise created to that build ICT-enabled support systems and advocate for digital rights to improve the lives of underserved youth. He’s also Nigeria’s most prominent digital rights activist. A man after the people’s heart, i will vote for him if he runs for president.

12 . SEUN ONIGBINDE- CEO & CO-FOUNDER, BUDgIT

i do not think there’s anything to alter as it speaks for itself. Seun onigbinde is a Nigerian and a proud one at that. Think about this, How do you hold to account a government that is largely disregarding of the wishes of its people outside election seasons? How do you check a government prone to propaganda and, sometimes, misinformation? How do you get a citizenry more interested in data and objective criticism of their elected officials?

These are the questions Seun Onigbinde’s civic startup, BudgIT, is doing. BudgIT tracks government budgets and data and presents them to the public in visually engaging formats. So far, using research, data analytics and visualization tools, Seun has proved to be a thorn in the government’s side, reminding the people in power that the citizens are watching and that they will not be silent if they keep misbehaving.

on the lips of every Nigerian citizen, “So i really do think we have come to that point in my country where by the people (who are the citizens) of course will become knowledgeable and understand that we have got to work together, and if we can’t do that then a strategy has to be laid out in order to enable each and every one to live under a rule of law as humans not as people surviving .. i mean its crazy to say that the citizens of Nigeria do not have the right to execute their rights to say no to something that is not working and we stand together and get it done, like we become accountable.

As humans who value human life which is the most important thing. Humans who have compassion and not people trying to runaway. If this is truly my motherland as i have been made to know then i have the right to say no i don’t want this, take a look at the developed countries i mean they speak english right !! What are we speaking in Nigeria our fellow nigerians out there don’t even have a clue of what is going on. What do you see when you go outside ? i can tell you what i see when i go outside, a lot of people are not happy and it is not fair in any way, as a human being, as a black man which is something extraordinary, we all have the right to be happy regardless of if you are a yoruba, igbo or an hausa person.

On that note, Dear government i’m writing this because this is the only place i can send it out for you all to read, i hope it gets to you all i’ve got to get back to the topic of this article so ill make this short: make things easy for Nigerians, make things accessible, provide stuffs, maintain them learn to trust the people and give the power back or they will seize it eventually. Give the nation something to be proud and patriotic about that alone brings more value than you all will imagine. if you do not start now its ok.. you can keep doing what you are doing i already have money. i just want to make my country better”.

13 . IYIN ABOYEJI -ENTREPRENEUR & CO-FOUNDER, FLUTTER WAVE & ANDELA
Iyinoluwa Aboyeji was the CEO of Flutter wave, one of the most integral payment companies in Nigeria. He resigned his role to focus on his family and play a role in influencing the policies that shape Nigeria’s tech ecosystem.
Before he co-founded Flutter wave, Iyin helped build Andela into one of the biggest talent companies for software developers in Africa. In less than 10 years, in Flutter wave and Andela, Iyin has helped build two of the most important companies in the Nigerian ecosystem.

14 . OMOBOLA JOHNSON – SENIOR PARTNER, TL COM & (FMR)MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATION

she’s bold, black and beautiful. Dr Johnson has been instrumental to the federal government’s acceptance of the role young tech entrepreneurs and the ecosystem will play in the future of the country. As the minister of communication, she famously had a hand in Andela’s foundation in Nigeria. She remains relevant in tech circles, appearing at events and in boardrooms, making deals and moves to solidify the rise of Nigeria’s startup ecosystem. Dr Omobola Johnson served as Nigeria’s minister of communication from 2011 to 2015. At the moment she is part of the board members at the world web foundation and TL com capital’s lagos-based $40 million(USD) fund in Nigeria.

MEDIA

15 . ADEWALE YUSUF -CEO, TECH PREMIER MEDIA & TECH POINT AFRICA
In the last 3 to 4 years, no local media platform has done a more thorough job of reporting the goings-on in the ecosystem than Adewale Yusuf’s Tech point. What makes Tech premier Media’s CEO Adewale and the publication, Tech point’s roles so important, apart from the work done reporting the Lagos ecosystem, is the conscious effort to cover tech development across the rest of Nigeria.

Tech point has toured the north and south of the country, covering the underreported regions and talking to those who would ordinarily have been forgotten and overshadowed by the Lagos eco system buzz. Adewale and Tech point are working hard to remind the country, the continent, that there’s more to Nigerian tech.

16 . BANKOLE OLUWAFEMI – TECH CABAL’S EDITOR – IN – CHIEF
Bankole Oluwafemi started blogging on Techcabal.com in 2013, long before Nigeria’s startup ecosystem became what it is today. Over the years, Tech cabal grew from just a blog into a full-fledged digital publication and Bankole earned a reputation as one of the most influential and most connected people in the system. It’s almost impossible for any important story to break or develop in the Lagos startup scene (the crown hub of Nigeria’s tech ecosystem) without him knowing first. He’s up to date just like that.

BACK TO ENTREPRENEURS / INVESTORS

17 . SIM SHAGAYA – INVESTOR & SERIAL ENTREPRENEUR

Sim Shagaya was named one of Forbes’s most powerful men in Africa in 2014. He has established himself as a father figure to many Nigerian tech entrepreneurs, having successfully founded prominent e-commerce companies like DealDey and Konga.com, where he is currently chairman, and digital advertising company, E-motion. Sim is one of those people that is ever ready to help, he’s down to earth and he has got a character trait that has been chronicled by several entrepreneurs like Printivo’s Yomi Ojo and IrokoTV’s Jason Njoku.

18 . GBENGA AGBOOLA – CEO – CO-FOUNDER, FLUTTER WAVE

Flutter wave In 2016 has established itself as the payment company upon which payment companies are built.

Platforms like Uber, Booking.com, and Transfer wise all use Flutter wave to process their payments. What makes it so integral is that it is not your regular payment company. It is the processor that powers your regular payment gateway, and Gbenga Agboola, is one of the brains behind PayWithCapture. An amazing individual.

19 . SHOLA AKIN LADE, CO-FOUNDER / CEO, PAY STACK

I myself have been following pay stack for a while now, and i must tell you what they do is super dope. After the era of e-commerce, payments became the in thing, and Pay stack, founded by Shola Akin lade and Ezra Olubi, has been one of the superstar companies, growing year-on-year in revenue and user base and processing over $20 million monthly.

20 . TAYO OVIOSU – FOUNDER / CEO, PAGA

The story of Tayo and Paga story is one of the biggest positives in Nigerian tech. Currently servicing over 11 million users and generating millions of dollars in recurring revenue, Tayo’s company has defied the odds and succeeded where many others have struggled and failed. He is a ground breaking king and i’d love to have an sit on interview with him.

These are the 20 most innovative minds in Nigeria shaping and building our eco system and the society at large. thank you for reading through.

Chinedu Okeke

Chinedu is the founder of Nigerian Tech. He is a tech enthusiast who has the passion for emerging trends in the tech industry. He is also a professional web content developer.

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