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Nigeria: Internet Exchange, Making Money, Abuja, Political Endorsement, And the Niger Delta

We begin this week's blog round-up with Timbaland‘s entry about Nigeria Internet Exchange.

It so happens that I desire to create an Internet utopia in Nigeria. I have a dream of providing Internet access to every Nigerian citizen. This became stronger when I was having a discussion with a friend yesterday and in our discussion, we identified that there are a lot of problems that could be solved.

I have fallen into the temptation (many times) of wanting to solve all these problems. Today, I might decide it’s going to be web applications – I mean lots of Nigerians are going online these days and there is not enough local content and so I think being a web developer will help solve this problem. Tomorrow, I identify that lots of Nigerians have Internet-enabled mobile phones and there’s lots of applications that can be built upon this platform. Honestly speaking, I will probably list about 20 or so problems that I can solve but to make any significant difference, I will require focus.

He goes on to highlight the main problem facing Nigerian Internet users today:

A lot of Nigeria’s local traffic still goes outside before it finally comes back. If you’ve ever used a VoIP application before and were trying to make a call to a Nigerian destination, although you’re even in the same state as the destination you’re calling, you will still experience serious latency; let’s not even talk about network gaming – with the current structure, it makes little or no sense for all those fast-paced games.

He concludes by offering a solution:

The solution to this problem is undoubtedly to create an Internet exchange point. Last year, I was made aware of discussions amongst ISPs to interconnect and I was glad today to find the Nigeria Internet Exchange web site. The site is really informative and I’m impressed by the fact that they’ve done a good job in really letting you know how to interconnect and the procedures required to do so. This will come in handy when creating the Nigerian Internet utopia. For now, I’ve gotten no suitable name and oh I’m reading up on IPV6.

From ICT, we move to money. Deola Akinyemi declares: Money – The More you Look, The More you See

Just about a month ago, when I wrote the article on Nospetco, Hazonwao, Wealthzone, Uphenry and other high return investments in Nigeria, the key thing on my mind was sharing information, creating awareness and sensitizing people. I have gotten a lot of thank you mails to this effect, and I thought I had done a good job. Little did I know however, that I was the one who would benefit the most from this enlightenment gesture.

I have always known that the hand that pours water on others cannot be dry. I had also known that the hand that pushes others up, cannot be down, but I have been shocked at how much information I have also come to gather in the course of providing information to you. In the course of the last one month I have come to hear about many more investment and money making schemes in Nigeria. Some of them, I’m still researching, and some I have decided to plunge in head on as well. There is one where you invest N6,000 and earn up to 2.5Million Naira in one year, that is worth trying as the risk is very low and it’s a banks product. There is another where you invest N70,000 and get the opportunity of earning about N300,000 and diamonds within 2-3months depending on you. I also got information about another where you invest a fixed amount and earn up to 30% per month, and yet another with over 200% returns in 8 weeks. I can’t contain them all in one post, but check out this two, and watch out for the others in future posts.

We switch gears and travel with Chippla's weblog, as the author blogs about the capital city of Nigeria in a post titled “On Abuja“:

The Nigerian capital city of Abuja is something of an oddity. Conceived in the mid 1970s and built from scratch on land obtained by the Federal government of Nigeria, Abuja is the next best thing to Lagos when one speaks of cosmopolitan Nigerian cities. In reality though, Abuja is very different from Lagos. While the latter is heavily congested and suffers from infrastructural decay, the former, it appears, has managed to blossom, maintaining a sense of decorum and orderliness that can hardly be found in any other large Nigerian city.

Unlike Lagos, Abuja enjoys the status of ‘federal capital.’ This was the status held by Lagos from October 1960 till December 1991. Having the status of federal capital directly translates to the allocation of extra funds from the public purse to maintain existing infrastructure and build new ones. Thus, today in Abuja, one finds residential buildings, roads and flyovers being constructed (albeit at a rather slow pace) for a ‘befitting’ federal capital city. The city of Abuja could rightly be described as a huge construction project, which still has a long way to go. Worn down structures and road signs are regularly replaced—in contrast to what one often finds in other Nigerian cities.

Chippla then goes on to highlight other features of Nigeria's capital city and offers an advice for the government of Nigeria:

By law, the current Abuja administration, headed by Mr. Nasir El-Rufai (who is also called ‘Mr. Demolition Man’ for ordering the demolition of illegal structures and buildings in Abuja, even those owned by powerful and once untouchable politicians) will be out of office in May 2007. The next Nigerian government must appoint people who at least have the guts of Mr. El-Rufai to manage the capital city. Going by the records of Mr. El-Rufai's predecessors, the making or breaking of Abuja largely rests on the individuals who govern it.

Yomi Says – a blog about web and mobility, the church, Work & Business, and life in general – highlights the fact that a private telecom operator (PTO) in Nigeria is now offering a special range of phone numbers that are not locked to a specific geographical part of Nigeria: Multi-links first PTO to launch Unified Licence numbers

Last week, private telecommunications operator, Multi-links launched its Unified Licence numbers. Customers with these numbers will be able to use their Multi-links phones in all parts of the country where there is Multi-links network coverage. The new numbers start with 07027.

Existing customers may migrate to the new numbering plan or retain their old numbers.

With service availability in over 6 cities including: Lagos, Ibadan, Abeokuta, Ilorin, Ijebu-ode and Sagamu, and the new national roaming facilities, Multi-links is gradually closing the gap between itself and the GSM boys.
While it certainly is a wide gap, it is worth cheering still. Starcomms and Multi-links seem to be doing a good job in leading the PTO pack. For subscribers, its better days ahead. Very soon we should be able to ask, who needs a GSM phone?

Election time is near in Nigeria, and Oro blogs about one of the aspiring presidential candidates: When A Professor Endorses Another:

Yesterday, in Lagos, Prof. Wole Soyinka publicly endorsed Prof. Pat Utomi and announced him political party’s support for the other Professor. While I am not too surprised by the much-awaited endorsement, I am not ignorant of the weight it lends to the candidacy of Prof. Pat Utomi. Over the last few years, Prof. Soyinka has established himself as a leading social crusader with both national respect and global influence, and his warnings about the political environment have always been taken seriously by both sides of the equation. So strong are his public comments that some not-so-smart paid public servants spend our tax-money trying to unravel the words of this igilango Oyinbo. Simply put, Prof. Soyinka’s endorsement of Prof. Utomi goes to show that like minds think alike, and that there are more forces for the good of Nigeria than there are against.

Not quiet far from politics, Grandiose Parlor blogs about the Niger Delta in Nigeria: The Niger-Delta Scam

If the insurgency in the Nigeria oil rich Niger-delta is allowed to continue unresolved, it will cumulate into a catastrophic event of epic proportions with dire consequences on the socioeconomic and political stability of the nation. This is not a dooms-day prophesy, or a forecast that requires some complicated regression analysis; it’s simple common-sense.

The following paragraphes however, convey the crux of the matter:

It’s getting seriously irritating to read about hostages been taken and released every other day. How much has been paid as ransom since the bandits perfected this scam-strategy? Where does the funds come from, and whose pockets does it go? I suspect a cabal runs these militia and it’s quietly profiting from the scams at the detriment of all Nigerians, particularly the innocent indigenes of the Niger-delta.

It’s long overdue for the respective governors and state assemblies of the militia-prone regions to be challenged for their complacency. In fact, they should be investigated; I won’t be surprised if they have strong ties with the Niger-delta militia after all.

Still in the Niger Delta, Black Looks blogs about US Marines & the Niger Delta:

Recently the National Geographic magazine published a feature piece on the Niger Delta “Curse of the Black Gold: Hope and Betrayal in the Niger Delta”. For those familiar with the issues of the Niger Delta there was really nothing that has not been reported by human rights environmental activists and Human Rights Watch over the past 15 years. What is new and cause for concern is the article “Nigeria and the United States: Convergent Interests” published by the Center for International Policy. A few months back I was contacted via my blog by a US contractor called Carol Chapital asking if I was willing to assist on a project in Nigeria.

We are preparing a study which is required to be reviewed by subject matter experts. Your name was provided as an expert. If your name is inappropriate with the academic subject experts, I apologize for the inconvenience.

The concluding paragraph of this blog entry however, reveals some very interesting statistics:

To put the scale of wealth into perspective and to emphasise the stakes for Nigeria, the US and more recently China, the World Bank reported that 80% of oil wealth is owned by 1% of the population; 70% of private wealth is abroad whilst 3/4 of the country live on about $1 a day – at least 15 million of those live in the Niger Delta (there are estimated 12 million Ijaws – an ethnic group that covers a very broad range of languages and city states)- though as the latest census did not include ethnic origin that number is somewhat arbitrary in 2007). President Obasanjo has made it clear that his policy towards the Niger Delta is to eliminate the militants and subjugate the non-violent movement for self-determination and resource control that started with the late Ken Saro Wiwa. It is therefore not surprising that the US has become directly involved with this Nigeria as part of their overall AFRICOM policy and in Nigeria’s case to protect their petroleum interests. Obasanjo will soon leave but the PDP will no doubt win the elections and realistically the same group of elite forces will continue to run the country so it is highly unlikely that there will be any changes in Nigeria’s relationship with the US.

7 comments

  • ebimobowei

    I think one of the ways the unemployed nigerian can make a living is by including nigeria in the google add bussines and affiliate marketing online.
    And that is i have ever hope for because i spend 4 to five hrs online without making money so i guess google and other online marketing firms most see how they are going to benefit 4rm it.

    Thanks 4rm ebi.

  • olarrylaw

    Hi Ebimobowei
    You actually read my mind I am currently working on setting up an affiliate program for 9ja but the great challenge is how to take online payment and identity issues but I am sure with time we will get over this issues so watch out. There is loads to be made online I totally agree with you. just have to figure out how to tap it.
    Regards
    Olarrylaw

  • sanusi olalekan

    this is really nice.

  • jubril

    take care of yourself.u are really trying.

  • Emmanuel Okoegwale

    Challenges for Nigeria Mobile VAS in 3g Era

    The granting of the 3g license to four companies without auction finally settles the hotly debated issue of 3g licensing. Apart from Alheri Engineering, other winners of the license are already operating GSM Networks in the last few years and the acquisition of the license will help to consolidate their positions and with the last Gsm Licence Holder, Mudabala finally settling for Etisalat as partner in the Nigerian deal,the stage is now set for keen competition.

    Over the last few years, voice has always been the major revenue base for National Mobile Operators In Nigeria. However, with the rapid development of mobile communication and the licensing of 3g Spectrum, this will greatly increase ability to perform lots of other services that will drastically change the business pattern of the telecom industry and bringing a set of new challenges.

    Mobile value added services are those services that are not part of the basic voice offer and are availed off separately by the end user. They are used as a tool for differentiations and allow the mobile operators to develop another stream of revenue. As time goes on, a value added service may become commoditized. Nigerian VAS market is grouped along the following categories informational, entertainment and Mobile commerce.

    For the Nigeria Vas Market to grow rapidly to meet expected demands of the 3G technology, all stakeholders will have to work together to create a self sustaining ecosystems for this growth to sustain. It would take the joint efforts of the all concerned to address significant roadblocks and thus unlock the true potential of mobile VAS in Nigeria. Unfavorable Revenue sharing model between operators and value added service providers and the focus mainly on entertainment based services which appeal only to a segment rather than utility and enterprise based services seems to be a leading cause of slow growth in this sector.

    To maximize the advantage that 3g technology presents, Operators will have to develop and deploy innovative services that will appeal to subscribers. Mobile phone has gone beyond their fundamental role of communications and have graduated to become the extension of the personality of the subscribers. Phones are no longer only to get in touch but to express themselves, their attitudes, feelings and interest and for these reason, subscribers always want more from their phones. Perception of a good Network is not only from the voice angle but from benefits and value added services they provide. Voice has simply become commoditized and it is no longer basis for differentiations in the mobile Sector.

    Operators need to focus on Value added services to survive the cut throat competition they are experiencing right now, reduction in voice revenues and to achieve growth forecast. Though presently there are quite a handful of innovative Value added services like the Remote mobile phone book back up, Savemycontacts, Vehicle tracking systems, ring tone downloads and the highly successful caller Tunes. Caller Tunes has demonstrated that subscribers are ready to adopt a service that offers them an option of personalization. Mobile users always want to carry forward their individuality to their mobile phones.

    While the informational and Mobile Commerce are really struggling in the mobile VAS market in Nigeria, Entertainment Value added services seems to be more popular because they are designed for mass appeal and leisure time usage while Mobile commerce is popular in Banking industry but with few users. Simple reason is that subscribers have not just seen or perceived a compelling reason to engage the Mcommerce and others. British Broadcasting Corporation reported that Nigerians are leading visitors to its site worldwide with 61% and distantly followed by South Africa at 19%.This is a classic example of usage due to compelling reason.

    In other parts of the world, sport and Adult contents (where allowed) are the chief revenue earners in the mobile value added service industry. Entertainment VAS seems to be the leading service that is driving the VAS market in Nigeria, this is because entertainment based VAS drive the market both value and volume terms. It will make whole lot of economic sense to build Entertainment content drive around the local Nigeria Music and Nollywood which is reputed to have generated N522 Billion Naira. The Nigerian Film industry has grown rapidly to become the third largest film producing industry in the world after Hollywood in the US and Bollywood in India. With the production of over 500 movie titles per year, Nollywood, as the Nigerian film industry has come to be known, is beginning to attract the attention of global cinema and it is increasingly seen as one of Nigeria ‘s positive cultural contributions to the international community. The Indian Bollywood has just completed the testing of short Bollywood Movies on Mobile phones at the 3gsm conference at Barcelona, Spain and by implication Indian is set for the second invasion and colonization of local movie industries worldwide but this time via the mobile phones.

    The main players in the Mobile value added service chain in Nigeria apart from the National mobile operators are the content aggregators. They provide content to mobile operators, perform in-house content development and aggregating contents from other small players. They own the short codes and they have a tie up with multiple operators to ensure subscribers of all operators can access same short codes. Revenue sharing chain percentages will either encourage more independent developers or discourage them from rolling out innovative services that will promote the 3G. As it stands right now, if the operators do not radically change the present revenue sharing structures which allows them to retain chunk of the value added services revenue, development efforts might not be encouraging after all.

    Growth is stifled in the Vas market in Nigeria because National mobile operators are playing safe and concentrating only on mass services for which content is readily available and chances of failure less. Entertainment value added service despite the fact that its practical value is minimal, is popular because of is mass appeal especially to youth segment and it is promoted over Mobile commerce and infotainment which has the capacity to create real value for subscribers. Mere deployment of the 3G Networks will not automatically incite Content aggregators to start developing contents. Additional investments in supporting infrastructure like in areas of Digital map for those going into location based VAS which promises to be one of the leading services in Enterprise solution VAS in Nigeria.

    Prevalence of low end Mobile Handsets is a major factor in the uptake and penetration of advance mobile technologies. Many services are not performing to their potentials despite their usefulness and many others which cannot be introduced. As the mobile markets grows, most new entrants are the low ARPU end users as most big spenders had already been taken up and hence most mobile handset coming on board might not have the features that support advance technologies. Operators worldwide are taking initiatives to collaborate with Mobile phone makers to make 3G services available to more people with less entry cost through handset development, logistics and marketing initiatives. Notable among such collaborations is the 3G for All campaign spearheaded by the Gsm Association that will reduce 30% off from the LG phone that has been chosen. The 3G for All campaign is the second programme designed by the GSMA to create economies of scale for handset makers and their component suppliers. The GSMA’s Emerging Market Handset programme stimulated the development of a range of ultra-low cost mobile phones aimed at first-time buyers in developing countries.
    Absence of utility services, with high practical value but for lack of publicity and marketing from the developers or Value added service provider side is resulting in unpopularity of such services. National mobile operators will have to review their policy on third party services marketing. While there are no uniform policy regarding third party services marketing across the industry but most operators do not promote third party service no matter how viable such services are. Mobile commerce and infotainment services should be promoted by operators as this will assure subscribers on its workability and dependability rather through rather unknown third party value added service providers.

    Lastly pricing will play a significant role on the success of Mobile VAS. Presently entertainment VAS has the best pricing because of its perceived value and operators tend at most times to use that as a benchmark for other Mobile VAS like infotainment and mcommerce which are still struggling to gain foothold. While some operators are making Gprs service available to all segments of subscribers, some are actually attempting to make it available to only post paid subscribers. Since Gprs is the chief 3g driver, its fee strategy is an important element in service development. Though monthly rent systems is the most popular method of using the internet worldwide but it might not be suitable for the Nigerian subscribers because they are still unsure of their Gprs usage. Subscribers will seldom buy unlimited use time for a service they are yet to trust and accept. Subscribers are not willing to accept a reduced suite of services in the context of acquiring a degree of cost control which is normally associated with pre-paid accounts while postpaid users have realized that they need better and more timely information to manage their spending on new services. As new 3G services start coming board and homegrown content becomes the norm, users want to have control and visibility over spend limits and service packages and will want to explore other billing options including hybrid prepaid/postpaid accounts and pay per use options. With this method subscribers can quickly sign off any service which they do not find useful.
    For Mobile Value added services to deliver expected benefits in Nigeria, National mobile operators and 3g license holders must pay attention to overall service development ,value chain reforming and commercial mode creation. There is also need to gather the power of the industry chain, balance the roles in the chain ,cooperate with each other and thus build up the competitive advantage in the development of Nigerian 3G mobile value added service industry.

    Okoegwale Emmanuel

  • Kudos to you man for your write up.

  • emilian

    i really admire your dreams. please encourage the nigerian youths to be focused and sincere in whatever they are engaged in so as to come out victorious with satisfaction that comes with hard work rather than engaging in prostitution, drugs,robery and other destructive activities.

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