Co-Creation Hub (CcHUB)—the foremost innovation hub in Nigeria—has acquired one of the leading innovation centres in East Africa, iHUB, for an undisclosed fee.

The acquisition of the Nairobi-based innovation centre by CcHUB is not only a first in the African tech ecosystem—the acquisition of one hub by another, but also represents the much-needed collaboration between Nigeria and Kenya—top investment destinations in Africa.

Seven months ago, CcHUB made a foray into East Africa with the launch of Design Lab in Kigali, Rwanda. This acquisition of iHUB reinforces the commitment of CcHUB to accelerate the growth of technology innovation and entrepreneurship in Africa.

Although iHUB, which was founded in 2010 by Erik Hersman, will retain its brand name and Nekesa Were will continue as its Managing Director, the acquisition is complete and total—iHUB is now part of CcHUB. Bosun Tijani, co-founder of CcHUB, is now the CEO of both hubs.

CcHUB, in a statement released on Thursday, said as part of the acquisition, it will  be making key hires in innovation consulting, people management, programme management and community support.

The place of hubs in the tech ecosystem

There have been arguments for and against the role of innovation hubs in Africa's tech ecosystem, particularly Nigeria.

Indeed, most hubs are just co-working spaces. But CcHub is one of the hubs that incubate and accelerate startups. Although it launched as a two-day hackathon and co-working space in 2011, CcHUB has morphed into an accelerator and incubator that has produced companies such as budgIT, Wecyclers, Findworka and Mamalette. It also played a critical role in the development of the tech cluster in Yaba, Lagos, where it is located.

In partnership with Facebook, CcHUB runs the FbStart Accelerator Programme, which had startups such as Gricd Frij in its 2018 cohort. And it is currently on tour with 10 selected African startups across five Asian cities (Singapore, Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Seoul and Tokyo) in its Pitch Drive II programme.

Why CcHub is acquiring iHUB

We are long-time admirers and collaborators of iHub - a world-class community of developers, entrepreneurs and business people who have been instrumental in growing Kenya’s extraordinary technology ecosystem.

Bosun Tijani, CEO of CcHUB and iHUB

Both hubs—CcHUB and iHUB—are similar in many ways and they are both almost a decade old. In 2016, when Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, visited Sub-Saharan Africa for the first time, iHUB and CcHUB were among the places he visited. Also, they have similar areas of focus: education, governance and fintech.

Nekesa said, "Similar to us, they [CcHUB] have been committed to delivering impactful support services, at scale, supporting tech and business communities and driving social capital for economic prosperity in Africa. In short - they share our mission to make businesses and the business environment on the continent, better for all."

According to Bosun, CcHUB’s mandate is to build a formidable innovation ecosystem with a deeply-rooted network, cultivating strategic partnerships and practical industry know-how that can support entrepreneurs in building thoughtful, relevant and scalable solutions. He said, "We believe we can only do this if we are intentional and proactive in how we scale and grow our reach, not only across Africa, but also internationally. This is the reason behind our acquisition of iHub and we continue to be bullish in our combined efforts in creating hundreds of thousands more opportunities for businesses across Africa"

Bosun and I have known each other since the beginnings of the tech hub explosion across Africa, and we’ve always made sure that the CcHUB and iHub had a good relationship. A decade later, it’s exciting to see the evolution of the space, and to have two of the largest and most impactful hubs consolidate and provide an even larger target for the tech communities they represent.

Erik Hersman, Founder of iHub

It is also noteworthy that CcHUB is not a member of AfriLabs—the pan-African network of technology and innovation centres, but iHUB is part of the 158 hubs network spread across 45 African countries. Bosun noted that, the acquisition notwithstanding, CcHUB will not be joining the AfriLab "at the moment".