DOA Managing Partner, Adeleke Alex-Adedipe talks to Craig Sisterson about giving comfort and support to startups in the fast-growing tech sector.
The tech sector in Nigeria and wider Africa has grown tremendously in recent years but we’re still scratching the surface and nowhere near where it could go in future, says telecommunications, media, and technology (TMT) expert Adeleke Alex-Adedipe.
“I say that because there are loads of opportunities here, so many things to be achieved,” says Alex-Adedipe.
“We work with startups every day. We see people coming up with fantastic ideas, solving problems. We have the population, we have the market, the ideas and innovation just doesn’t stop. Problems are being solved every day with technology.”
Alex-Adedipe is Managing Partner of Duale, Ovia & Alex-Adedipe (DOA), an award-winning full-service law firm in Lagos and Abuja with strong TMT expertise. Like its startup clients, and the entire tech ecosystem, DOA has grown rapidly over the last few years.
“Our approach was to provide that comfort and service to Nigerian startup tech businesses, across different lines from fintech to agritech to healthcare,” he says.
“We give them the desired legal protection in a new space that’s growing. It was quite nascent five years ago.”
The newness and rapid growth of the TMT ecosystem in Nigeria (and Africa) provides opportunities but also challenges, says Alex-Adedipe. Particularly in terms of regulation.
“Of course, it’s the reality that regulation is constantly chasing innovation, but it should be a close relationship,” he says. “When the gap is too far apart, it becomes an issue.”
Problems can arise with regulators not having the awareness or understanding of rapid advances in technology, or a lack of regulation in general. Startups are not running away from regulation, says Alex-Adedipe, but they do want to know what the rules are so they can draw up a model that fits. “We don’t want the goalposts to be changed during the game.”
Another challenge for technology startups in Africa is finding adequate funding.
That’s why DOA has looked to help build and support the local tech ecosystem via legal expertise and broader business advice and community-building.
“We have events regularly on TMT financing,” says Alex-Adedipe. “We bring people to the table, hold plenaries, and have conversations about the ecosystem, how we fund the ecosystem, how we ensure funds are used, and how we give opportunities to people.”
While a lot of people can build products, they need support to get them out there.
“I think for us when we say we know how to provide comfort to startups, we understand this space and this market, and part of what we’re providing is not just law. The relationship goes beyond that. It’s the relationship of an advisor, where you have a trusted hand-holder who can see you through your journey. That’s the kind of relationship we build with our clients.”
DOA advises local startups and clients looking to do business in Nigeria. As Alex-Adedipe says, “the opportunity absolutely outweighs the challenges”.
Originally published by the Africa Legal.