The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Nigerian government inaugurated the timbuktoo Fintech Hub in Lagos on Tuesday as part of plans to bolster Africa’s technology startup ecosystem.

This fintech hub is one of ten thematic hubs under the timbuktoo initiative, the most extensive global effort supporting Africa’s technology startups.

The launch also unveiled the pioneer cohort of 42 startups from 31 countries. This milestone sets the stage for groundbreaking initiatives to drive innovation and socio-economic development across Africa.

timbuktoo fintech hub cohort - Techpression
timbuktoo fintech hub cohort

Read also: Timbuktoo plans to unleash Africa’s startup potentials 

Empowering Youth Innovators through Collaborative Efforts

The event brought together high-ranking officials, including government representatives, UNDP officials, industry leaders, investors, academics, and regulatory bodies.

Former Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo emphasised the importance of collaboration to make Africa an innovation centre of excellence. Describing stakeholders as enablers, he emphasised the need for World organisations, the government, and the private sector to collectively support young innovators who have the drive to birth solutions to solve Africa’s challenges.

As a guardian of the timbuktoo Africa Innovation Foundation, Osinbajo highlighted the potential of young innovators.

“Youth innovators have the power to bring prosperity and power to the Africa of our dreams. Here in Nigeria, the founders of Flutterwave, Interswitch, OPay, and Andela were under 30 when they developed these unicorns,” Osinbajo noted.

At the event, selected members of the pioneer cohort showcased tech-driven solutions addressing societal challenges like climate change, access to credit, rent payments, and medical supplies.

Nigerian Afrobeats singer Patoranking was named the first UNDP Africa Regional Goodwill Ambassador. He expressed delight in championing the cause of the UNDP, stating that the agency’s values align with his dream of seeing a better Africa.

“I step into this role to lend my voice to important initiatives that hold immense potential to change development for many Africans”, Patoranking said.

The Lagos State Government praised the hub’s launch, recognising the potential of young innovators. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, represented by his Special Adviser on Innovation and Digital Technology, Olatubosun Alake, assured the government’s commitment to partnering with the cohort startups.

Read also: Fintechs pioneering financial inclusion in Nigeria, says World Bank report

Accelerating Sustainable Development

UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Mohamed Fall, expressed satisfaction with the initiative, noting its potential to drive digital economy growth and achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the region. timbuktoo, inspired by Timbuktu, Mali, is a global initiative launched in February 2024, aiming to transform dreams into reality and create opportunities.

UNDP, Nigerian government launch timbuktoo fintech hub, unveil pioneer cohort

UNDP Nigeria Resident Representative Elsie Attafuah, stated that the launch marked a significant milestone in creating opportunities for millions, with the first cohort poised to redefine financial services and development across the continent.

The hub will provide a state-of-the-art environment for startups to build, test, and scale their solutions, fostering local and regional fintech ecosystems.