Sometime in 2012, the Lagos State Ministry of Environment created an agency, Lagos State Parks and Gardens Agency (LASPARK), that would be responsible for the management, maintenance, and regulation of parks and public spaces in the state.
Since creation, the agency has focused on maximising public spaces by including a wide range of features and services that attract users, thus making the facilities operational and functional for a long time.
To date, LASPARK has 327 parks and gardens in its database, 212 of which are state-owned. These parks have mostly served as venues for picnics, recreation, and hangouts. But LASPARK’s recent partnership reveals that parks in Lagos would no longer only be spots for entertainment and recreation, but also for innovation.
To this end, LASPARK, in this collaboration with Versecom, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), IHS, Leadspace, and Cisco, aims to promote research and development by giving free spaces in state-owned parks for erecting innovation hubs. The facilities will be called Lagos Innovation Centres.
Having these hubs in place is expected to cause a shift in park visit times which have been reduced to evenings, weekends, and holidays.
According to the CEO of Versecom, Timilehin Odusina, the initiative aims to make low-cost working spaces and industry-focused laboratories available across the state to support startups, businesses, and individuals in the energy, agriculture, health, fintech, logistics, and mobility sectors.
He stated that while this will significantly remove the constraints associated with accessing necessary machines and equipment, it would also create an enabling environment that would further encourage innovation.
When fully operational, the initiative is expected to relieve tech-enthusiasts of the costs of office space rental and equipment acquisition, thus making it easy to develop innovations especially with solutions that require hardware prototypes.
Already, the first of such innovation centres has been completed. Techpoint visited the Rafiu Jafojo Park, Shasha, Alimosho, where the first Lagos Innovation Centre is located.
Timilehin revealed that four other proposed specialised hubs will be centrally situated at parks in Jibowu (Education Hub), Ikeja (Health and Smart City), Victoria Island (Financial Literacy), and Ikorodu/Epe (Agriculture). However, he mentioned that the functionality of each hub is still tentative.
Defining each partner’s role in this, Timilehin said Versecom is responsible for the low-cost hub initiative, LASPARK makes the space available, LSETF maintains community engagement with the hub, Cisco provides Wi-Fi, and IHS builds the energy lab, while Leadspace manages it.
Energy and Environment Hub
The Energy and Environment Hub, first of the Lagos Innovation Centres, is aimed at supporting startups and individuals operating within the energy sector. And it opened on Monday at the Rafiu Jafojo Park, Shasha, Alimosho.