Paul Graham is my role model. His simplicity comes through without any trumpeting or marketing whizz-puff so I take what he writes seriously. His talk How to Make Pittsburgh a Startup Hub is consistently oil-free. The answer: Bring the young people in. Lots of them. These are the guys with energy willing to try stuff, hungry to make their mark in the world. Can we apply his suggestions to other cities in Nigeria aside the favourite locations in Lagos? Here’s his five-point agenda:
Encourage local restaurants: Help restaurants and other business-social hubs thrive through lower rent and taxes. Can libraries be the natural innovation hubs for our town? I say yes. The talk was inspired by a report on the city’s youth-driven food boom.
Save old buildings: Preserve the identity, the personality of the city. Are there such buildings we can save?
Take advantage of density: Can work, church, market, school be around where I live?
Make [our local universities & polytechnics] the best: Our local universities — LASU, Unilag, Yabatech or Esa-Oke or EKSU or Mapoly. This one is one big basia of work. We need help with our schools. We need help with our schools. We need help with our schools. Build new academic systems, energize universities of research. No hype, just quiet, efficient engines constantly supplying resources to help us live better lives. The best talents can be attracted to come study, and then stay to live and work.
Promote tolerance: Can every one be free to be Igbo, Hausa, Ijebu, Catholic, Muslim in the neighborhood?
We should aspire to build and prepare cities or towns to attract young people whether in Ado-Ekiti or Oshogbo or Nassarawa. A city can, for instance, focus on electricity. The city promising and delivering 18 hours power every day will be massively attractive to someone like me. There are other sides to the startup hub dream but we can begin by taking any part of this idea and working it out.
Conclusion: Remodel and re-energize our cities, attract many young people. I think there are angles I’m yet to tie together yet, but I know they will come together in the days ahead. I have begun the process, at least.