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Monday, 23 May 2022

Hello from Lagos, Nigeria

DAY ONE- After six-hour, 4.3k km flight from Cairo, we’re settled at the Nordic Hotel Lagos on Victoria Island. Think of Victoria Island as the Zamalek of Lagos — just a bit greener and more colorful. From the plane, we could see colorful rooftops covering the ground below.

Refresher: We hopped on a plane yesterday with our friend Aly Shalakany, CEO of the Cairo Angels Syndicate Fund (CASF) to explore one of Africa’s biggest startup hubs. We’re joined by Nawah Scientific CEO and founder Omar Shoukry and Adham Azzam, COO and co-founder of fintech player Lnddo. We’re looking forward to meeting interesting startups, angel investors and VCs in the capital of Africa’s largest consumer market.

As is typical for a bunch of entrepreneurs and the people who invest in them, conversations were lively on the way over. Is being an angel investor an actual full-time job or not? (Definitely, if you ask Shalakany). How important are African markets to Egyptian startups looking to expand into other countries? More on that in the coming days.

Nigeria loves biometrics: We gave thumb prints (and biometric photos) at the airport — and again when we bought SIM cards to have internet on the go.

And it is definitely looking towards the future: Tomi Davies, collaborator-in-chief at TVC Labs and our chaperone, showed us around Lagos’ Eko Atlantic City — or what locals like to call “The Future”. The country is building a 10 mn sqm multi-use commercial center as part of a land reclamation scheme intended to protect Lagos from coastal erosion (the city’s coast lies on the Atlantic Ocean). The project is a mix of public and private investment and is expected to contribute USD 1 bn to the country’s economy annually, once completed, according to local media reports.

Two things we loved at the airport in Lagos: #1- A sign declaring “We do not condone extortion,” which was accompanied by an image of two hands passing a crunched-up banknote. And #2- “Touting of any kind in the nation’s airports is prohibited” — along with an image of a silhouette in a hoodie.

Generally, Lagos feels a lot like home. The highway reminds us of the Da2ery, the driving style reminds us of a typical Egyptian microbus driver, and the potholes feel the same when you blaze through them.

But the weather… The humidity knob seems to be turned to its maximum (see how misty it is in the image above), while the gods of rain like to keep drizzling cold drops onto earth while you walk down the street. Despite it all, it’s supposed to be about 30 degrees Celsius.

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