Collaboration, the Shortest Way to Build an Ecosystem

DG of NITDA, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami with the Commissioner for Science and Technology Akwa Ibom State, Prof. Nse Essien during the StartUP Friday event where the DG announced the opening of a Job Creation Centre in Esit Eket, Akwa Ibom State by NITDA.

There is this popular story of a dying man who gave his sons a stick of broom to break. He watched with reserved amusement as his four sons broke the sticks with no efforts and the sound gave them a temporal cause for celebration.  It was easy for all to break.  The wise man then ordered for a bunch. Handling same to the eldest, he watched as the young man struggled to break the bunch. Giving up, he handed the bunch to his father despondently.

The old man took the broom from the boy with a sardonic victorious look. Looking away, he handed the broom to the second son, who gave a little thought before attempting. Failing, the man instructed the broom should go round. Finally the last son handed over the broom to the father with his chin in-between his breast. Once again the old man smiled comfortingly as he began his lectures.

A firechat session during the event on “Your journey as a techpreneur”

“I want you to experience the power of collaboration,” the man began tiredly. “When I gave you the single broom, you all broke away without any effort,” he paused. “That is how easy it is for you to be destroyed if you are striving alone”. “But you can recall your experience with the bunch,” he paused. “You become stronger and invincible when you are in a team, that is how I want you to stay on earth as I journey to meet my fathers,” he said sadly as he turned to face the eldest son.

This may or may not be a true life story, but life situations have taught us this story is what is applicable in most success stories. Collaboration plays a vital role in most business excellence. That is why sometimes I feel the message I should carry in techforest should be aimed at preaching collaboration among young people. Apart from the fact that most business men turn their ideas into a company where they seek team players, maybe in the form of employer or partners, the power of collaboration played again recently to my greatest delight.

When the present commissioner for Science and Technology came into office, I had given up on government after my previous wars with the former commissioners to see that we key in as a government and as a people to what is happening in the tech industry globally.  In fact, the immediate past commissioner for Science and Technology has seen me as an adversary aiming at pushing her out of the ministry than having any beautiful thought in the future for our young people in tech.  This was disheartening to me but then we held onto what we thought was good for the industry in the state. Of course, I knew what we demanded from the government was affordable and so I had no regrets when she could not return to the ministry after the dissolution of that exco.

Dr. Amina Sambo-Magaji, the coordinator of OIIE thought it expedient to bring the event to Akwa Ibom State, a Niger Delta State.

When Prof. Essien came, then Dr., we presented the same request again.  This time Mark Essien of led the team and the internship was to be in partnership with the State government, the present commissioner granted the request.  A wider space was granted at the Ibom e-library and more people registered under the safe wings of Hanson Johnson of Start Innovation Hub. For once we recorded the most successful internship in the State ever. Of course most, if not all members of the Budgetier team who won the 1st prize during the StartUP Friday, are said to be members of the internship program. Another result of collaboration.

Presently we are still waxing in the euphoria of the success of the first ever StartUP Friday in the Niger Delta zone. The success of this program is facilitated by the fact that the National Information Technology Agency – NITDA, is ready to collaborate with youths in the Niger Delta zone and the Akwa Ibom State government through the Ministry of Science and Technology. Result? A job creation centre at Esit Eket which was announced during the StartUP Friday in Uyo by the Director General of NITDA – Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami.

What I’m I saying then? Collaboration plays a pivotal rule in the establishment and sustenance of an ecosystem. Whether we want to see it in the tech ecosystem, politically and in all ramifications, collaboration is needed to fast track progress.  I am a regular visitor to Start Innovation and I must say that the number of successes recorded at the hub is as a result of the collaborating spirit within the hub.

Hanson Johnson of Start Innovation Hub is known among techies as the Champion of collaboration in Akwa Ibom ecosystem.

As we strive to build a strong reliable ecosystem in the Niger Delta zone and Nigeria South East, all hands must be on deck.  The academia, technicians, developers, lawyers, businessmen, government agencies and parasatals, investors, etc. must be willing to come together to strengthen the knowledge and skills base in the ecosystem. In doing this, we will soon create machines that will help provide solutions to our community problems and we can then export our technology to other developing countries.

Young people should come into the tech industry, and acquire necessary skills.  This is because when one list expects, there may be a need for your skill and you start making money from your skills even while you are in School or serving the Nation after graduation. Coming into the tech community will offer you the opportunity to understand the essence of team spirit and this will help you when you are getting into any organization either to acquire more skills or working as an employee. The field is ripe but the labourers are few, get engaged with any tech community and advance your career through the power of collaboration.


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