Computer Village Nigeria | What really makes this market tick?

It all started when the handful but sizeable hub of GSM phone mart formerly located at Ogunlana Drive in the heart of Surulere to the serene and docile environs of Otigba in Ikeja, the capital of Lagos State.

Little did anyone realise that the market would assume the status of the largest information technology accessory market in Africa, generating about N60 million annually in levies alone for Ikeja Local Government Council, collected from about 6000 different categories of shops in the market.

When it comes to phones, computers and other devices, this market comes first to the mind for residents of Lagos, the nation’s commercial capital. Buyers and sellers of technology products and accessories converge daily in the market to transact various businesses and there is actually no brand of phone that is not available in the market; ranging from the authentic ones on display in lock-up shops to counterfeits, which are sometimes on display by traders on tables and make shift shelters.

Aside gadgets and computer accessories, the market also deals in the sales of software and repair of mobile phones, computers and allied gadgets.

An aerial view showing  Ikeja Computer Village in Lagos, Nigeria's biggest technology market cluster

An aerial view showing Ikeja Computer Village in Lagos, Nigeria’s biggest technology market cluster

 

A bustling time on the street of Otigba

Presently, the Ikeja tech market, popularly called the “Computer Village” is undisputedly the largest hub of such on the African continent.

Remarkably, no single individual has a hold on determining the prices of goods and services rendered in the market. It is a highly competitive market where everyone is a player in what he has to offer. It is an open market that is under the administration of the Computer and Allied Products Dealers Association of Nigeria (CAPDAN), the umbrella body of businesses in the market.

The market is opened on a daily basis except on Sundays and public holidays. This daily business transactions and popularity has attracted new investors and tech dealers across Africa thereby expanding the market size and population with profound effects on the economy of the host state, Lagos.

Walking along the streets of the market, one is endlessly prodded by hawkers of used phones and gadgets who constantly bellow, “you wan buy phone or you wan sell?” Countless number of youths have found a thriving source of income in the market as engineers, technicians and marketers of all types of gadgets found in the market.

It is an open market with no barriers to entry and exit, allowing great influx of people regularly.

However, in recent times, the market has gone beyond the just sale of all types of tech gadgets to trading in other essential commodities.  Sales of “hand-me-down” clothings, which we popularly refer to as “Okrika” in local parlance have gained popularity in the market and the traders of such commodities enjoy huge patronage.

Other items one is bound to find in the market range from fashion accessories to even edible fruits. If there is another trade that thrives so well in the market and generates a very good source of income, it is the sale of cooked food. The market has food vendors of different tribes, with each showcasing its tribal delicacies. There is virtually no type of the common local dishes that can’t be found in the market. The aroma from those dishes would make any passerby to want to stop and have either a taste or a fill.

On the other hand, the glory and deportment that are bestowed on this ever-lively and vivacious market tends to decrease gradually in intensity and power. The purpose of its existence in the initial setting is gradually being forfeited as a result of increasing crime rate that is being carried out on a daily basis.

Comput

Mobile market….Technology Times file photo shows a phone shop at Ikeja Computer Village in Lagos

Mobile market….Technology Times file photo shows a phone shop at Ikeja Computer Village in Lagos

er Village, which is noted for its unmatchable popularity in the tech world and marketing is now a market place with an unenviable record of notoriety. It is now a depot for counterfeit and phoney products and also a den for petty thieves, pick-pockets, fraudsters. Stolen phones from other parts of the country somehow find their way into the market to be offered for sale.

Computer Village has also become a haven for manufacturers of fake phones and accessories. Countless of people who have had bitter experiences in the hands of fraudsters that parade themselves as road-side phone sellers. So, while trading in Computer Village, you need to move with caution. This is not to say that there are no longer genuine brands in the market, but the bad eggs are rubbing hard on the good ones.

The case of Toyin Balogun, a student of University of Ilorin who had travelled all the way from Kwara State to Lagos to purchase a cheap phone at the market is pathetic. “I have been hearing of Computer Village for a long time, even before my first visit to Lagos some years back, and many of my friends have been telling me how cheap I can get phones of different types. I have been planning to visit the market on my next visit to Lagos.” But Toyin’s visit left gory tales to her memory when she eventually visited Computer Village.

According to her, she patronised a roadside vendor who brandished an Infinix Android phone before her and she got attracted to it. After much negotiation, the seller sold the phone to her for N35,000. He tested it and it worked perfectly okay. She went to her friend’s shop nearby to have it charged and also fix her SIM card but alas, she got the shocker of her life!

The supposed phone was a mere carcass stuffed with cooked fufu, a local delicacy made out of cassava. She and her friend rushed to the shop where she bought the phone and to her dismay was told the phone wasn’t sold by the owner of the shop. The receipt she was given bore a different business name from that of the shop and the person that attended to her initially was nowhere to be found.

These cases and many more are commonplace in Computer Village market these days. These and many other reasons are enough factual evidence for the recent resolution of Lagos State Government’s plan to relocate the market, which consist of over 3,000 traders to a new location in Kontangowa, Ile-Epo, a suburb of Lagos.

On combating the sales of substandard devices in the market, Mr Ahmed Ojikutu, President of Computer and Allied Product Dealers Association of Nigeria (CAPDAN), expressed the association’s readiness to work with relevant government bodies to force out substandard products out of the market.

Akinwunmi Ambode, Governor of Lagos. Uber has said that the Nigeria launch of its taxi booking service will help to decongest Lagos vehicular traffic

Akinwunmi Ambode, Governor of Lagos.

“If there were cartels cloning others’ phones, it wouldn’t be like they can’t be stopped, but without direct involvement of constituted authorities like the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to clamp down, it is not going to be very easy. Therefore, we need their direct collaboration to rid the country of these substandard or cloned phones which constitute problems to the innocent citizens.  We are open to partnerships, needing the backing of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA)”, he says.

Accordingly, “if you want to clamp down, we are ready to volunteer information that will assist you. When the cartel knows it is not profitable any more to import substandard products, they will naturally leave the market and the public will be the direct beneficiaries. CAPDAN is coming up with a product called ‘Phone-Range; an online platform to assist buyers check the genuineness or otherwise of any device they want to buy at the Computer Village” he adds.

Although, the Lagos State Government based the reason for relocation on the population density of the market in the once-upon-time residential area but it is obvious that the crime rate in the market community could damage the reputation of the state capital and the state which is fast priding itself a megacity and it’s a strong undertone for the relocation.

National Identity | Nigeria crosses 21 million enrolment mark

Over 21 million Nigerians have been enrolled under the National Identity programme underway across the country.

The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) confirmed this today in a statement made available to Technology Times that it achieved the 21,360, 000 enrolment mark at close of business on September 6, 2017.

Engineer Aliyu Aziz, Director General/CEO at NIMC has set a goal to register 28 million Nigerians into the National Identification Database by the end of December 2017.

NIMC said it has registered 21,360,000 Nigerians into the National Identity Database and issued them the National Identification Number (NIN).

 

Engineer Aliyu Aziz, Director General/CEO of National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), seen during the interview with Technology Times at the NIMC Headquarters in Abuja.

Engineer Aliyu Aziz, Director General/CEO of National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), seen during the interview with Technology Times at the NIMC Headquarters in Abuja.

The Commission said it has also setup more enrolment Centres across the 36 States of the federation and the FCT, bringing the number of enrolment centres to about 805.

With the deployment of additional enrolment centres, NIMC is currently active in 556 Local Government Areas (LGAs), and is working to activate dormant centres in the remaining 218 LGAs in order to expand enrolment coverage, according to the nation’s identity management agency.

The NIMC DG said that the Commission has continued to record exponential growth in the population of the database, “despite the challenges facing the Commission, even as the country gradually exits recession.”

NIMC had a little above seven million NINs in the database when Aziz took over the mantle of leadership in November, 2015, according to the government agency.

“Despite the challenges and constraints, the Director General who is undaunted, has continued to manage the scarce resources, to ensure that the database is populated before commencing enforcement of the mandatory use of the NIN for all identity based transactions”, according to the NIMC statement.

Microsoft’s Gates stakes $450m on polio eradication in Nigeria

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation set up by Microsoft co-founder, Bill Gates has announced a $450 million fund to support polio eradication efforts by Rotary International in three countries, including Nigeria.

Rotary President John Germ and Bill Gates, who is co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced the commitment of up to $450 million to support the eradication of polio in Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan to an audience of nearly 40,000 Rotary members attending the humanitarian organisation’s annual convention in Atlanta, USA.

Rotary and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said they renewed their longstanding support for ending polio – a paralyzing, life-altering scourge on the verge of becoming the second human disease ever to be eliminated.

Under the plan, Rotary committed to raise $50 million per year over the next three years, with every dollar to be matched with two additional dollars from the Gates Foundation. This expanded agreement will translate into $450 million for polio eradication activities, including immunization and surveillance over the next three years.

This critical funding helps ensure countries around the world remain polio-free and that polio is ended in the remaining three endemic countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan.

Rotary and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said they renewed their longstanding support for ending polio – a paralyzing, life-altering scourge on the verge of becoming the second human disease ever to be eliminated.

Members of Rotary in Nigeria supporting the polio eradication efforts

Members of Rotary in Nigeria supporting the polio eradication efforts

“In 2016, fewer children were paralyzed by polio than ever before, thanks to the dedication of Rotary members and our partners,” said Germ. “The paralysis of even one child by a preventable disease is unacceptable, and I’m proud to see our members redoubling their commitment to ensure we reach every single child with the polio vaccine.”

In a partnership spanning a decade, Rotary and the Gates Foundation, along with the other Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) partners, have led the effort to end polio worldwide. This funding extension reaffirms a commitment established at the 2013 Rotary Convention in Lisbon, Portugal, when the Gates Foundation pledged to match Rotary contributions two-to-one, up to $35 million per year through 2018, the organisations say. Rotary, including matching funds from the Gates Foundation, has donated more than $1.6 billion to polio eradication.

“The vision of eradicating polio began with Rotary, and its support of that effort has been unwavering for more than 35 years,” Gates adds. “Rotary’s commitment to raise $150 million over the next three years to end polio forever is a testament to the compassion, generosity, and kindness of more than a million Rotarians around the world.”

Today’s announcement comes on the heels of the news that world governments and other donors have pledged to contribute US$1.2 billion total to the GPEI for polio eradication efforts. The government funding—also announced today at the Rotary Convention—will substantially help to close the US$1.5 billion funding gap, allowing partners to immunize 450 million children every year and support rigorous disease surveillance in both endemic and at-risk polio-free countries. While the government funding announced today makes considerable headway in the fight to end polio, continued support from donors remains vital to achieve a polio-free world.

The global eradication of polio has been Rotary’s top priority since 1985. Through the Global Polio Eradication Initiative – a public-private partnership that includes Rotary, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and UNICEF – the incidence of polio has plummeted by more than 99.9 percent, from about 350,000 cases a year at the start of the initiative to just 37 cases in 2016.

Broadband | Experts point ways to drive data explosion

Experts at the International Telecoms Week conference in Chicago have underscored the need to accelerate investment in Africa to facilitate the continent’s broadband data explosion.

Based on the theme ‘Achieving A Connected Continent: Leading The Data Explosion Across Africa’, the expert panel session with participation from Google, Facebook, WIOCC, Liquid Telecom and Angola Cables discussed strategies for achieving improved broadband access across the continent.

The session reviewed the state of broadband infrastructure and data traffic trajectories in different countries on the continent and made comparisons to other markets globally. This included areas in which investments had been made such as submarine cables, data centers, and access networks including 3G4G and FTTH networks as some of the elements that have accelerated the growth in data traffic on the continent.

The consensus was that the data explosion will need to be driven by further investment in local networks to reach more end users rather than new submarine cables. The session revealed that while most African submarine cable systems had the capability to deliver 100 GBPS wavelengths, Africa has not utilized near enough capacity to saturate those systems.

According to the panelists, for broadband to become more pervasive, there is need for continued investment and innovative business models to aid the rapid deployment of access networks across the continent.

The need to go beyond mobile infrastructure was also highlighted by the CEO of Liquid Telecom, Nic Rudnick, whose company just completed its acquisition of South African operator, Neotel for $429million. “As consumers in Africa start to use the Internet for content, TV and on-demand services, mobile will have its limitations, not just in terms of technology, but also in price. We need to look at other technologies to achieve cost effectiveness.”

eThink Education, a Certified Partner of the open-source Learning Management System (LMS) Moodle, has been named first official partner to offer Moodle hosting and services in Nigeria.

Facebook’s Regional Head, Africa for Express Wi-Fi, Uche Ofodile shared the company’s experiences working with carriers to jointly make infrastructure investments and highlighted its initiatives in Uganda, where it is working with Airtel to deploy fiber backhaul, but noted that demand and favorable regulatory environments informed their decisions to invest. The need to go beyond mobile infrastructure was also highlighted by the CEO of Liquid Telecom, Nic Rudnick, whose company just completed its acquisition of South African operator, Neotel for $429million. “As consumers in Africa start to use the Internet for content, TV and on-demand services, mobile will have its limitations, not just in terms of technology, but also in price. We need to look at other technologies to achieve cost effectiveness.”

The panelists’ assessment of data centre growth in Africa also indicated that uptake is not as rapid as experienced in other parts of the world and that most of the content consumed in Africa is hosted in Europe. Data centre operators, MainOne and Liquid shared their experience that initial demand on the continent has been driven by Enterprises and financial institutions as against other geographies where OTT players are the biggest data centre players.

For the sixth year in a row, MainOne raised Africa’s profile as a target for broadband investment at the recently concluded global telecoms conference, International Telecoms Week in Chicago, USA, where it hosted an over-subscribed Africa Panel Session. The session which was a gathering of major international and African carriers, data centre operators, mobile network operators and content distribution companies, provided a platform for players to share perspectives on the opportunities and challenges across the region with a global audience. The discussions also focused on infrastructure challenges as well as regulatory and economic constraints that impede faster proliferation of broadband access across the continent.

GoOnline Nigeria to empower SMEs for Digital Age

GoOnline Nigeria has announced the imminent roll-out of its business growth programme for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) across Nigeria that will equip the ecosystem lead competitiveness in the Digital Age.

GoOnline Nigeria is a business growth programme for SMEs in Nigeria delivered by an alliance of Programme Partners and SME Growth Drivers across the technology, Internet, payments, financial services, media and allied industries.

Mr Foluso Busari, Executive Director of Programme, GoOnline Nigeria announced at a stakeholders’ retreat held in Lagos on Saturday that the programme will aggregate Nigerian entrepreneurs and SMEs to lead and unlock business innovation, efficiency, competitiveness and profitability in the Digital Age.

GoOnline Nigeria is a 360-degree programme delivered in three key modules: Get Online, Grow Online and Succeed Online for SMEs across Nigeria to sell profitably on the Internet, while the official portal on www.goonline.ng has also been opened to the Internet community.

According to him, GoOnline Nigeria Programme Partners representing SME Growth Drivers in the technology, banking and financial services, media and other sectors have partnered with a shared vision to unlock entrepreneurial possibilities that foster innovation, job creation and overall economic growth across the SME ecosystem in Nigeria.

According to him, “SMEs are a very important component of the Nigerian economy and are regarded as engine of sustainable growth. SMEs also hold potentials to contribute higher proportion to GDP in Nigeria with targeted initiatives like GoOnline Nigeria to unlock potentials in the sector and build a stronger SME sector. Consistent commitment to the development of strong SMEs sector can be unlocked by implementing initiatives like access to finance and financial incentives; basic and technological infrastructure and a commitment to building domestic expertise and knowledge.”

According to the Programme Director of GoOnline Nigeria, “our vision is to provide 21st Century IT and business resources for Nigerian entrepreneurs and SMEs to lead business innovation, business competitiveness and profitability in the Digital Age. GoOnline Nigeria will be sustainable into the foreseeable future by evolving SMEs that will be agile, sustainable, efficient, innovative and profitable by embracing the Internet for business.”

Young Nigerians seen at work inside the Information Technology Developers Entrepreneurship Accelerator (iDEA) Hub in Yaba, Lagos.

The GoOnline Programme Director also identified that the Nigerian SME ecosystem is very well positioned today with increasing telephony subscriptions and penetration across the country, which is also driving Internet access among a growing population of Connected Nigerians.

Official market information by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) puts the telephony connections at 153,514,107 lines and Internet subscribers at 93,176,061 as at October 2016, “a trend that has enabled easier access to the Internet and social media services, he added.

Mr Busari also said that “the growing access is enabling easier channels for customer acquisition and retention as the Internet marketplace offers services that connect SMEs directly with customers.”

He stressed further that, “within the Nigerian macroeconomic environment, several initiative like the Local Content Policy, “Buy Nigeria” will further help SMEs harness compelling growth potential and like other emerging economies, are likely to constitute a significant portion of GDP in the near future.”

According to the Programme Director of GoOnline Nigeria, “our vision is to provide 21st Century IT and business resources for Nigerian entrepreneurs and SMEs to lead business innovation, business competitiveness and profitability in the Digital Age. GoOnline Nigeria will be sustainable into the foreseeable future by evolving SMEs that will be agile, sustainable, efficient, innovative and profitable by embracing the Internet for business.”

Under the plan, Mr Busari said that the GoOnline Business Growth Programme will be delivered for the following demographics:

  • SMEs that have no Internet presence at all and wish to start selling their goods and services online.
  • SMEs that already have a website but are not recording online sales.
  • SMEs that sell online on third-party Markeplaces but do not have their own websites.
  • Market clusters across Nigeria with identified opportunities to embrace Internet to achieve business scale, operational efficiency and profitability.
  • Small businesses planning to open their own micro-enterprise or already run their own small business.
  • Entrepreneurs interested in business but may or may not be familiar with basic business concepts.
  • Entrepreneurs that use some technology in their business or for personal purposes but do not maximize the use of technology in managing their business.
  • Entrepreneurs interested in learning how Internet and ICT tools can help them run their business.
  • Entrepreneurs interested in brief, practical and relevant hands-on training on Internet for Business.
  • Entrepreneurs interested in learning, exchanging ideas and networking with other entrepreneurs.

According to the GoOnline Programmes Director, the first phase will involve provision of affordable web presence bundling free Nigeria .ng Internet domain name, website, web hosting, telecoms starter kits for SMEs, e-commerce, CRM and other business management tools.

“This phase will demystify the Internet and other online business platforms for small business and provide affordable and effective websites to gain and retain new customers and also target online communities, demographics and market opportunities across the local Internet community”, Mr Busari explained.

Stage Two on Grow Online will provide SMEs across Nigeria with 21st Century IT and business skills for entrepreneurs to lead business innovation, operational efficiency, business competitiveness and profitability in the Digital Age.

This phase of the programme will incorporate targeted trainings, workshops and seminars spread over a one year cycle of monthly learning experiences to offer partner SMEs the needed skills and competence to gain and retain customers by leveraging the Internet.

According to Mr Busari, “more importantly, this phase also enable partner SMEs and merchants to unlock value propositions available from GoOnline Programme Partners and SMEs Growth Drivers to grow their businesses.”

This phased programme will feature online business communities, Monthly Learning & Networking Experiences, Quarterly and Annual Online as well as Physical Showcase Events, according to the GoOnline Nigeria Programmes Director.

“We are positive that GoOnline Nigeria will be the next wave for SMEs in Nigeria by creating a sustainable path to accelerate online revenue growth and profitability. The Programme will enable SMEs across Nigeria generate higher percentage of revenues from Internet storefronts to complement their physical storefronts”, Mr Busari added.