By Segun Adekoye
With tough economic conditions, survival is not just limited to individuals who are in search of jobs to cater for daily subsistence, but also for businesses that are constantly faced with policies that change or skyrocketing levies. Government agencies continually increase tariffs regardless of the economic conditions. Private organizations occasionally give a pay-cut in the name of economic recession because they know that the unemployed within the populace are willing to accept even lesser. This uncertainty counts for why private companies and sole proprietors resident in Nigeria seek for ways to minimize costs, cut-down on capital intensive projects and maximize profits. Little wonder that people complain incessantly about inconsistent quality.
However, the presence of mobile telephony and data services has helped in expanding the business horizon in Nigeria. People are faced with more options on the line of businesses that they can delve into depending on the kind of stress they are willing to take and the amount in capital that they have to start their business. Small and medium scaled entrepreneurs have emerged from phone booths, cyber cafes, web development and customer-services businesses.
Facebook’s geometric rise to one of the top 100 companies in the world within a space of seven years has also exposed Nigerians to the untapped potentials of the world web mine. It is no news that web portals such as Yahoo, Google and LinkedIn rank among the top 500 companies in the world.
Now, some Nigerian companies have followed suit, in what could be called “the e-rush”. It will be of no surprise to discover that Vconnect, one of Nigeria’s top information portals, is a sister company to Indomie Noodles. Dealdey, a discount-giving site is owned by E-Motion Advertising; a major outdoor advertiser in Nigeria. An Indian businessman came to Nigeria solely to establish a financial and stocks information site called Easykobo. News corporations such as Next, Punch and Guardian are harnessing not only the phenomenal traffic of the World Wide Web but also its coin-pouring effect to grow their businesses. Bloggers are enjoying the profit potentials of the Google Adsense program which accounts for why hundreds of blogs spring up almost everyday on job vacancies and news display. Popular forums such as Nairaland and NigerianBestForum, just to mention a few, are benefiting immensely from the e-mine. Nigerians have taken over the bulk sms business from Indians and have made it commonplace, ubiquitous and available at very competitive prices.
The sporadic growth of website hosting companies in Nigeria and their competitive price slashes have aided in the significant increase of Nigeria-based websites. The African web-bloom is expected to blossom further in the forthcoming years especially if its challenges are addressed. The major hindrances are power outage and the absence of good internet broadband access at very affordable rates, while the minor would be the presence of very reliable web hosting providers.
The remunerative power of online businesses may not be able to quell the unemployment spell of the most populous African but it has in its own little way provided succour to part of the diligent-unemployed that are digitally-savvy. The cost of even acquiring a shop in Lagos is so high that it has pushed young budding entrepreneurs to develop their online shopping sites. The cost of an office space in Nigeria’s commercial hub is enormous and it just pays to run a virtual office and make profits as a business survival strategy.
The Nigerian web-based enterprise is very much untapped and it offers opportunities to web designers and developers, web hosts, local advert placers, writers and e-marketers. This industry should be supported by the government, non-governmental organizations and foreign grants to stimulate its growth and efficacy. Case studies should be taken from hundreds of thousand of thriving online businesses in countries like South Africa, America, India, England and China. Organizations like the Corporate Affairs Commission should be fully automated and have an effective web portal that would reduce the queues in their offices and double output. Integration of online payment processors and an online real-time Ajax-Technology business-name search engine on their website would increase the productivity of organizations such as theirs. The opportunities are vast, the potentials are unlimited and the rewards are encouraging.
The initial embrace may be slow, the traffic may be daunting but with time the pay check earnings mature as long as one is consistent and has something worth the-internet-while to offer.