Nigeria Mission 2019

Discovering Africa's fastest growing tech start-up ecosystem in Lagos, Nigeria

As part of the D4D-Be platform and the successful mission to Kenya in 2018, and Close the Gap joined forces again to organize an exciting economic mission to Lagos in Nigeria, Africa’s most prominent tech hub, with the most vibrant startup scene that attracts developers and investors from all over the world.

Watch the official after-movie here.


View the photobook of the mission here.

Diary of the Mission

Tuesday 19 March: Arrival Day 

On Tuesday 19 March, all participants arrive in Lagos, Nigeria, a large country that is home to one in five Africans. As most participants arrive late in the evening, the Silicon Lagoon Mission's official start date is Wednesday 20 March, when the first visits are planned. Our team and welcome the guests at the pool bar of the hotel they stay at in Lagos. With 20 million inhabitants, Lagos is Nigeria’s largest city and one of the most prominent tech hubs of Africa.

Before the participants arrived, the organisational team made sure that the last preparations were all in order. Together with the Nigerian Belgian Chamber of Commerce (one of our many local hosts), they visited the venues and organisations that will welcome the participants during the Mission.

Wednesday 20 March: Discovering the entrepreneurial landscape


On the first morning of the mission, participants are welcomed at MEST Incubator. Here, they attend a session about "Doing business in Nigeria: opportunities and pitfalls". The session provides an overview of the tech and startup scene in the country, and includes advice on legal, bank, and tax-related issues.

Furthermore, Belgian, European and Nigerian startups also present testimonials on the topic. Speakers included presenters from MEST, the Nigerian Belgian Chamber of Commerce, Digital African Women, TechCabal, Complete Farmer and Webmonks.

Quote: "If Lagos were a country, it would be the 7th largest economy in Africa." - Bankole Oluwafemi, founder of TechCabal.


In the afternoon, the delegation visits Wecyclers Waste Management facilities. This social enterprise empowers social change by using the environment and technology to allow low-income communities to capture value from their waste.

Wecyclers is also the winner of the prestigious King Bauduoin Foundation African Development Prize, which rewards outstanding contributions made by individuals or organisations in the area of development in Africa. In context of this success, the visit is followed by an official ceremony, press conference and lunch celebration.

Press Release by the King Bauduoin Foundation on Wecyclers' as the winner of their African Development Prize.


Later this afternoon, The Elumelu Foundation hosts a "pow-wow". This includes an introduction by Tony Elumelu himself (one of the most important African entrepreneurs and investors) and a Q&A session with Minister Philippe De Backer and incoming TEF CEO, Mrs. Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu. Local and Belgian startups also pitch their ideas and initiatives during this evening.

Press release by the Tony Elumelu Foundation. 

In the evening, The Elumelu Foundation generously invites our participants for a Garden Cocktail on their premises, together with local tech influencers, investors, and a delegation of Nigerian entrepreneurs.


Thursday 21 March: Deep Dive in Yaba


On this second day, the participants start the morning with a co-creation workshop hosted by and at CcHub. After a tour of the Hub and an introduction to its workings, the co-creation itself is kicked-off.

In these sessions, Nigerian startups are linked to Belgian startups according to their industry and overall theme. The different groups (Blockchain/Fintech, Business solutions, Education, Digital Health, Cleantech/Agritech) co-create exciting business ideas and discuss opportunities to collaborate.

After these intense co-creation sessions, the startups pitch their final ideas and results to the other participants. The winning team was awarded a trophy by Minister De Backer.


After lunch, the group visits the Facebook Artificial Intelligence Hub, Facebook's first flagship community hub space in Africa. The goal of this Hub is to facilitate collaboration and the exchange of ideas among the tech community.

Later on, the group follows immersion sessions at two local startups: LifeBank (a Healthtech company mobilizing blood donations) and Blackbit Energy (a sustainable energy compnay focusing on the Renewable Energy Space). The participants were again divided according to their industry and theme.

After these sessions, a unique visit to Jumia (a large and diverse e-commerce platform) is on the programme. The participants receive an introduction to the company and a tour at their office where the Customer Service and Food & Travel Digital Services are regrouped.

Jumia is Africa’s first tech unicorn, which is a privately held start-up company valued at over $1 billion. They recently filed to become part of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

In the evening the Belgian Ambassador H.E. Mr. Daniel Dargent generously invites our delegation for a reception with networking opportunities with local industries. Our participants also had the honour to meet His Royal Majesty Oba Riliwanu Babatunde Akiolu 1 - Oba of Lagos (pictured in blue below).

Friday 22 March


The last morning of the Silicon Lagoon Mission focuses on an investor session organised by and at IFC Worldbank. In this session, participants receive an overview of the local Venture Capital scene.

Afterwards, some of the Belgian startups also pitch for a jury composed of investors (including IFC Venture Capital, TLcom Capital, Signal Alliance, Venture Garden Group, GreenHouse Capital, Binance Labs, Ventures Platform, Novastar Ventures, Rising Tide Africa).


In the afternoon, Youth for Technology Foundation 3D Africa, in partnership with GE Garages, hosts a workshop called "Building a Viable Hardware Ecosystem in Nigeria". We are welcomed by Youth for Technology's CEO Njideka Harry.

In the session itself, participants learn about what it takes to build a hardware ecosystem, and about the role of emerging technologies such as 3D printing. The session also includes an overview of the entrepreneurial landscape of Nigeria and how the support of start-ups and scale-ups works in Africa.

During this session, Nigerian hardware startups and scale-ups also present their companies and solutions.

This session also contains an intervention of the Solvay Business School VUB on international entrepreneurial internship projects, presented by Professor Michael Dooms (also a participant of the mission).


Saturday 23 March: Optional Leisure Program

On Saturday, participants can opt for a leisure program. In the morning, the delegation can visit the Turbeculosis Clinic (managed by Damian Foundation). On Sunday 24 March, it is World Tuberculosis Day, which makes this visit extra relevant. 

The Damian Foundation has world leading expertise in TB, regroups many operations in Nigeria, and is an enthusiastic stakeholder of the Belgian Digital for Development project and piloting a new e-learning platform. 

In the afternoon, participants can also join for a visit to the Nike Art Gallery, which is Nigeria’s leading art gallery. Afterwards, they also stop by a local market.

Discover the full program here.


Press coverage

About the Mission in general

  • - It's time to end TB!
  • De Morgen - Belgische start-ups ontdekken ‘Yabacon Valley’, het kloppend hart van de Afrikaanse techsector (Dutch)
  • De Standaard - Stad van kansen (Dutch)
  • Trends - Belgische handelsmissie bezoekt florerende start-up scene in Lagos ; Digitaal Nigeria (Ducth)
  • Trends/Tendances - Des Nigérians connectés
  • Datanews - Waarom trekken Belgische start-ups en ondernemers naar Nigeria? (Dutch) - Version 2 here
  • Datanews / Levif - Pourquoi des startups et entrepreneurs belges se rendent-ils au Nigeria? (French) - Version 2 here
  • Website Minister Philippe De Backer - Blockchain makes Belgian NGO VIA Don Bosco more transparent 
  • Youth For Technology Foundation - Building a Viable Hardware Ecosystem in Nigeria Pitch Session
  • Website Minister Philippe De Backer - De Backer op missie naar Nigeria, het Silicon Valley van Afrika (Dutch)
  • Website Minister Philippe De Backer - De Backer en mission au Nigeria, le Silicon Valley de l’Afrique (French)
  • - Minister De Backer op missie in Nigeria (Dutch)
  • Tony Elumelu Foundation - Tony Elumelu Foundation to Host Belgian Digital Minister and Tech Delegation in Lagos, Nigeria
  • The Guardian - YTF partners GE Garage to enable tech start-ups
  • Newswatch Nigeria - YTF, GE Garage, Belgian govt. partner to boost tech start-ups in Nigeria
  • PlusTVAfrica - The Go Global Silicon Lagoon Mission 2019 (video)
  • News Central - Youth for Technology Foundation hosts Silicon Lagoon In Lagos (video)
  • NewsDirect - Nigeria, Belgium Start ups collaborate to bridge technological gaps
  • Bloovi - CEO Flow Pilots: "Meer vrouwen in de IT sector lijkt me een nog grotere uitdaging dan meer vrouwen in topfuncties" (Dutch)

About Wecyclers and the King Baudouin Foundation African Development Prize

Special thanks to our generous hosts and their sponsors:




ARCHIVES: About the Silicon Lagoon Mission to Lagos, Nigeria

We’re honored that Minister De Backer, Minister of the Digital Agenda, Telecommunications and Post Office, responsible for administrative simplification, the fight against social fraud, the protection of privacy and the North Sea, will be joining too, accompanied by a large press delegation. Due to governmental changes, Minister De Croo, who announces the Nigeria mission in the video above and was earlier confirmed to participate, will not be joining the mission.

During this three-day mission, this is – amongst other things – on the program: we’ll explore Yaba, the heart of Nigeria’s Tech scene in Lagos, have an extensive session at Facebook’s new AI Hub (First hub space in Africa to train 50,000 Nigerian youths), co-create at Cc-HUB (Nigeria’s first open living lab and pre-incubation space), participate in a live pitch event organized by Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF) of some of Nigeria's top youth innovators in the hardware space and organize a session together with The Tony Elumelu Foundation (Tony Elumelu is the most important African tech investor.) We will be joined by a large delegation of Nigerian and African entrepreneurs, investors and businesses. Discover the detailed program here.

The objective of the Silicon Lagoon mission is to create potential partnerships and raise awareness about Digital for Development opportunities.  The focus is on startups and scale-ups in AI, fintech, agritech, cleantech, health tech. But, actors from cooperation development, non-profit associations, acadamics, and corporates are also welcome.   In the coming weeks and months, we’ll disclose more details about the exciting program!

This mission is the second one in context of our Digital for Development project. The first mission went to Kenya's Silicon Savannah. More information about this mission can be found here.


The US has Silicon Valley, Germany has Silicon Allee,  Kenya has Silicon Savannah and Nigeria …. Silicon Lagoon.

Join us to:

  • Get to know one of the most thriving tech ecosystems in the world
  • Mingle with fellow entrepreneurs from Nigeria and get to know the needs of the locals
  • Learn about the opportunities that arise in Nigeria and in Africa, how to do business there and validate your idea with local entrepreneurs and investors in an interactive setting.
  • Meet some of the key players in the tech industry and start-up community
  • Find local partners…


March 20 – 23, 2019


The price is 1.590 euro per person (without VAT) for startups, non-profit and academics, and 3.000 euro per person (without VAT) for corporates and investors. Prices exclude flights. Subsidies and funding available.


Sign up here (by March 1, 2019)  Any doubts or not sure if it’s the right event for you?  Contact Frederik Tibau, Content Director at +32 497 25 56 01 or



Startups and scale-ups can get a subsidy of Flanders Investment & TradeBrussels Invest and Export or Awex (depending on where your startup/scale-up is based) for this mission that covers about 50 percent of the costs. It’s important that you send them your dossier at the latest two weeks before departure.


The City of AntwerpAntwerp-based startups can be eligible for a voucher covering up to 75% of the Go Global mission (excluding VAT).

About is the one stop shop for Belgian tech entrepreneurs. We partner with startups to reach their global ambition, we facilitate joint innovation with business partners worldwide, and we’re the reference center of expertise in the Belgian startup ecosystem. 


D4D Platform

First of its kind, the Belgian Digital for Development platform will be launched in November 2017.  Coordinated by Close the Gap and Agoria.  Its focus is co-creation, creating a knowledge sharing eco system in Belgium on digital for development projects and opportunities, stimulating private sector engagement in the development sector.