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Silicon Valley identifies Africa as new tech frontier

A new technology hub that has been created in the heart of Lagos represents the burgeoning technology and innovation scene - that is attracting significant investment and interest from global giants - that recognize the opportunities presented by this emerging market of young, connected Africans.

US search engine behemoth Google and social networking colossus Facebook both recently launched initiatives close to the tech metropolis in Lagos. Nigeria's Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo is currently on a whistle-stop tour of California as part of his continuing efforts to court US tech investors for what he has described could herald a ‘fourth industrial revolution' in the country.

However, it's not just Nigeria that is attracting interest from global tech giants. Last month, Google announced that it would open Africa's first AI lab in the Ghanaian capital of Accra. ICT analysts have claimed that demographics are a key factor behind the drive: Africa's population is estimated to be 1.2 billion, 60 percent of them under 24. By 2050, the UN estimates the population will double to 2.4 billion.

Technology researcher at GBH Insights in New York, Daniel Ives said the African region represents a clear opportunity for tech companies to tap into the emerging market of young tech savvy connected Africans.

He said, "There's a clear opportunity for companies like Facebook and Google to really go in and put a pole in the sand. If you look at Netflix, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, where is a lot of that growth coming from? It's international. "

Facebook is running its operations from the NG-Hub, as it hasn't yet established a permanent office in Nigeria.  The company's Africa head of public policy, Ebele Okobi, said at the opening of the premises that the goal was to cultivate the nascent technology community.

The social network has pledged to train 50,000 people across the country in an effort to give them the digital skills they need to succeed. In exchange, Facebook, which currently has some 26 million users in Nigeria, gets more users and access to a massive market to test new products and strategies.

"We are invested in the ecosystem - just the fact that they are engaging that in it-self is a goal," she added.