Nigerian musician and entrepreneur Oluwatosin Ajibade, popularly known as Mr Eazi, has just returned from Estonia, where he attended and spoke at the country’s Latitude59 tech conference.
Billed as “the flagship startup and tech event of the world’s first digital society,” Latitude59 brought together over 400 investors and 800 startup reps in the Estonian capital of Tallinn, from 24-26 May.
As part of the conference’s speakers program, Mr Eazi discussed his tech and creative journey — and the prospects of the African orange economy via smart governance — in a roundtable with former Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves.
While in Estonia, he also met with industry leaders and tech entrepreneurs, including Ahti Heinla, a founding developer of Skype and the founder and CTO of robotics company Starship Technologies; and Markus Villig, the founder and CEO of mobility company Bolt. “My last-minute trip to Estonia ended up being one of my favourite 24 hours this year,” said Mr Eazi.
“At the conference, I spoke about my career and journey from founder to musician to an investor, with my own VC fund,Zagadat Capital, investing in tech businesses.”
That journey appears to be of great interest, as Latitude59 is not the only international business conference to host Mr Eazi recently. Earlier in May, he was a speaker at the 2023 Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles, where he shared his views on African music’s role in developing and stimulating the continent’s creative economy.
Paramount on Eazi’s mind in Estonia was the potential for business alliances in tech.
Estonia presently has the most start-ups per capita of any European nation. It is ranked first in the region for its business environment by the Emerging Europe IT Competitive. “[Former president] Ilves shared how Estonia has been positioning itself to be friendly for tech founders and entrepreneurs through its digital e-residency program,” Eazi said. “You can set up your company digitally in Estonia, and become an e-resident.”
Eazi, who via Zagadat Capital recently invested in Decagon, a company that trains engineers in Nigeria and pairs them with jobs worldwide, sees a major opportunity for African tech talent to gain a foothold in overseas markets such as Estonia.
“You have over 10 million smart, young people getting out of university each year in need of jobs. Now, Africa — not just Nigeria, but Kenya, Ghana, Benin, Rwanda, etc — our continent has the prospect to become the highest net exporter of technology talent.”
While this was Eazi’s first visit to Estonia, he is not a stranger to the country’s business environment. His VC fund Zagadat Capital has already invested in the mobile payment service PawaPay, which employs a number of engineers in Estonia.
“I believe this is my first of many trips to Estonia, and I am excited at the fun stuff and ideas we will execute together,” he stated.