NIGERIA: The Dotcom Boom

The dotcom boom bubble which was driven by the rapid growth in the internet sector took place between the years 1995-2000 with the United States leading the boom. During this period, the Gross Domestic Product of the US doubled, her debts were reduced to 20-25% of its GDP, unemployment level was reduced to its lowest minimum in more than 3 decades and more importantly, Corporations whose turnover is higher than the Nigerian government’s budget were incorporated. Although a bubble bust occurred after the boom, Science and Technology relevance has not diminished in decision and policy making by Governments or Corporations be it in Security, Health, Agriculture, Entertainment or Education etc.

Nigeria is beginning to enjoy her own dotcom boom thanks largely to her growing literate population and the mobile internet users which is more convenient and affordable. According to Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), there are up to 10 million internet users in the country compared to 3 billion users worldwide according to the International Telecommunications Union. This however is an encouraging statistical figure especially if the purchasing power and the standard of living of citizens in the country are put into consideration.

The Federal and State government should work in harness to improve infrastructural deficiency, provide funding for functional and capable Research & Development Agencies, create an enabling environment in which patents and copyright protection laws are applicable, this will encourage emerging tech entrepreneurs and thus lead to increased and competitive competition and automatically foster growth by creating jobs with multiplier effects and thus strengthen the economy. Backed by financial foreign investors, Konga and Jumia are Corporations leading the ongoing e-commerce revolution in the country can become Africa’s next M-pesa (world’s global leader in mobile money service, a Kenyan based firm) if they are given the full support and encouragement by stakeholders which the East African tech firm is receiving at the moment.

Nigeria is blessed with both skilled and unskilled manpower in virtually every sector including the Information Technology(IT) sector, if only we can look beyond oil and gas, sentiments and ethno-religious issues, all these were factors that lead to the eventual collapse of the Sports and other sectors that were once a thing of pride to the country. The entertainment industry for example used to be a dreaded and dead industry seen as the valley of death for a career path, It was an industry that portrayed individuals associated with it as unserious, or individuals who were tagged as lazy and did not want to go to school, graduate and get a white collar job and end up fulfilling a society based stereotype lifestyle. With the help of corporate bodies and a group of determined and focused individuals, the sector is now a Goldmine for young individuals with talents and presently employs millions of Nigerians. It has reduced crime among the youth and has also given the citizens in Diaspora an opportunity to come back and nurture their God given talent together with their experiences abroad. There is a good number of Nigerian IT experts in Europe, Asia, North America and even South Africa who are either been used by their host countries to develop their economy or left languishing despite having so much to offer. Just recently, it was reported in the news that Apple Inc acquired an IT firm which was started and owned by a Nigerian.

Having the talent is one thing, managing and nurturing it is another. Asides from government or corporation’s role, young IT entrepreneurs should avoid the Nigerian corporate norm of taking their customers for granted after breaking even and establishing an impressive customer base, this to me is the main reason why we don’t really have indigenous Organizations with longevity. Most of the few ones available either have a government background or the owners are power brokers in the country, this cannot in anyway promote competition but rather encourage monopoly. The startup tech industry in the world is associated with a high failure rate, because most app developers just have the talent, but do not have the necessary entrepreneurial and marketing skill necessary to promote their products.

For the country to fully utilize her dotcom boom, there is need by industry stakeholders to educate the citizens on the usefulness and effectiveness on the role of Science and Technology in the country, this was a short coming on the part of the capital market stakeholders during the Stock market boom in the country and eventually led to its bust.

Written By: Kenny Osuntuyi
Twitter: @KennYAfro

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