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Semicolon officially launches in Lagos, focuses on developing tech talents for African market



Semicolon Africa

  • Highlights from the event as Semicolon and Henley Business School announces partnership

The professional technology training institute and innovation hub, Semicolon, has officially launched its programmes in Nigeria.

It has also made an official notification to the public about its partnership with the global business school, Henley Business School, Nigeria, during a roundtable event tagged, ‘Linking the T.I.E.’

T.I.E stands for Technology, Innovation and Education.

Semicolon Africa


The numbers

It is said that numbers don’t lie and the following numbers show the state of Nigeria and her youths;

  • Nigeria has a population of about 200 million people
  • 87% of the adults in Nigeria are between the ages of 18 – 35 and 60% of them are either unemployed or underemployed
  • Yearly, about 500,000 graduates are produced in Nigeria
Semicolon Africa

Amb, W. Stuart Symington

The above statistics, which were mentioned by different speakers during the event, showed the premise which birthed the need for, first, Semicolon, and next, its partnership with Henley Business School.


Having a population of 200 million, Nigeria can be a pool of diverse resources, however, the CEO Semicolon, Sam Immanuel, bemoaned that the country has a shortage of people with ideas for solutions. This, he explained, was the reason for continually-overwhelming problems without solutions in the country.

The dreary reality yet equally exciting opportunity revealed in the above statistics led to the rise of Semicolon which is currently in its sixth month running. Having a mission to develop a generation of technopreneurs and solve problems within and outside Nigeria, the hub hopes to enable economic development and sustainable growth.

Semicolon Africa


Sam revealed that Semicolon has a three-tier manner of operation. First, they teach students. The hub focuses on technopreneurship and training programmes as it has a strong focus on education. They teach the students to transform their tech solutions into businesses.

The next tier is the incubation. The hub nurtures the ideas of the students, making them investor-ready and ready to scale.

The third tier is to create a community for the students. In this community, the students are referred to as ‘Natives’ and the other ecosystem of partners and industries are the ‘citizens’.


Focusing its education on design thinking, software development and business management, Semicolon visualizes a time where Nigeria becomes home to a thriving, talented tech community and so becomes an outsourcing destination for the world.

The innovation hub has its first set of natives who were enrolled in the one-year programme on March 18 2019. Thirty-one in number, four of them, women, these pioneer students were chosen from about 300 applicants.


“Semicolon was built to build the people who will build the companies which will build Nigeria and Africa,” said Mr Immanuel, ending the introduction to Semicolon.

Semicolon Africa


Henley Business School

In obvious excitement, the Vice Dean, Africa, Henley Business School, Jean-Pierre Choulet announced that goals of the school and what it is about.

Convincing the audience that practised knowledge was more profitable to the society than the mere acquisition of the knowledge, he announced that Henley Business School, develop people who would practice the knowledge gained and impact the society.

Revealing that the 74-year old institution was open to partnership via its Nigerian branch, he announced that the partnership with lead to education in human leadership, human decision-making processes, and build businesses to build Nigeria.

Semicolon Africa


Finding Meaning Via Inclusion

“Many people see Nigeria as a country, but I see Nigeria as an idea,” began the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Amb, W. Stuart Symington. In a boisterous manner, he opined that the most important thing in life, even more than food and water, is having a meaning.

He iterated that inclusion is a key ingredient if Nigeria, with her numerous tribes and languages, would grow in this technology-driven world.

He lectured the audience on the need for peace, saying that there could only be peace if each Nigerian had a piece of hope and a piece of the action, hence, the constant need for inclusion as every Nigerian must buy into the idea of Nigeria for the idea to work.

Congratulating Semicolon, the Ambassador described the innovation as one which connects spirits through education and technology with innovative ideas which give life meaning.

Linking T.I.E.s

Sharing thoughts and perspective around the vision of Semicolon, the Chief Transformation Officer, MTN and Convener, Data Science Nigeria, Bayo Adekanmbi, spoke on how Nigeria can avoid digital slavery in the future.


Sharing the following statistics;

  • It is estimated that by 2050, Nigeria would be the third largest country, in terms of population, in the world and the average age of the adults would be 21 while many other nations would have an average age of 49 – 52.
  • The last two Google Barometer surveys of 2017 and 2018 found Nigeria in the first place. This means that the young people of the country believe in technology as an avenue to change the country’s situation.
  • Nigeria is number one when it comes to the number of people who access the internet via mobile devices. Over 90% of internet traffic in Nigeria comes from mobile devices.
Semicolon Africa


Mr Bayo  informed the audience that the only way to leverage innovation for sustainable economic development is by linking technology with innovation through education.

He repeated the above information by revealing that any country, seen as having a high impact development, used the above formula.

He mentioned the need for right learning and right education if the future will be ours. The traditional education is no longer sufficient and innovation has to be embraced to get smarter, alternative routes to get things done.

He called for the need for total inclusion where everyone contributes to the use of the vast opportunities available in Nigeria.

Women in Leadership

The cry for the inclusion of women in tech is no longer seen as whining as the few in the different tech spaces are beginning to pull their weight. In a talk, where she shared the need and effect of women leadership in the workplace, the Co-Founder and Director of Afrinolly, Jane Maduebguna, deemed it unwise to leave women out of this creation of the digital economy.

Semicolon Africa

Some of the Natives with CEO, Semicolon, Samuel Immanuel

Talking to the women, she reasoned that they would only be effective if they knew and accepted themselves, their business and their unique way of life.

Listing the strengths women bring to every activity they partake in, presenting different examples from personal experience to those of world-recognized icons, she advised that inclusion demanded the role of women in the tech sphere.

Education, Teamwork and Entrepreneurship

The Director of Operations, British Council, Stephen Forbes, speaking on the special attention the British Council put on education, stated that education was what gave life meaning. He also mentioned the need for teamwork in the adaptation of inclusion.

He reminded the audience that each person in a team has a role and affects the overall output of the team.


Defining the right education as life-long and having a connection to real life issues, he mentioned a need for it to adapt and remain relevant.

He concluded that in the inclusion agenda, neutrality was important as it leads to ideas. In his words, “…take it away and you have something static.”

Risk-Taking Investors?

In an interview with Mr Sam, he revealed that the students, who are mostly fresh graduates and have no income source, can’t afford the tuition and cost of the training process of Semicolon.

The package which includes a laptop, and three square meals, daily, is a full-time course and costs a sum of N1.8 million, said the CEO.

He revealed that the course would be done free of charge, and after the natives have been set up in businesses or as employees, then a payment plan would be drawn.

This risky investment tells us three things; firstly, it shows that Mr Sam and Mr Jean-Pierre are risk takers. Secondly, it shows that they have confidence in what they offer.

Thirdly, it shows that they believe in Nigerian youths and their potential.

Giving hope in a hopeless situation, Semicolon might have found what the youths need. Maybe the youths need more risk takers to believe in them.

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@TechEconomyNG connects past-present-emerging technological impacts on Businesses, People and Cities. All Correspondence to: [email protected]

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