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Internet Revolution in Nigeria

By on May 15, 2012

Many important discoveries and inventions have changed the way things work in our world over the years but I don’t think any of them can compare to the Internet. Its impact on the lives of so many people is amazing and I am sure that in a Century’s time our descendants will regard this period in history as the golden ages of technological development.


The Internet is changing the world so fast that those of us caught up in the middle don’t fully realize what is really happening. We can now get news on things happening anywhere in the world seconds after they happen. Everyone can give their opinions on major global issues and their voices will be heard. Even celebrities can make tell everyone what exactly is on their mind without necessarily having to hire public relations experts to help them dispel rumors created by sensation seeking fans. Many people now look for and find their life partners online.


In short as the years go by, the online world is changing the real world at neck breaking speed and Nigerians are fully involved in this evolution. As at last year, there were over 44 million Internet users inNigeriaand this number is increasing constantly. Go to any of the major social networks and the presence of Nigerians cannot be ignored. Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Badoo, Nimbuzz, 2go etc. Name it and Nigerians are there in full force. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that from time to time, some Nigerian topics trend worldwide on Twitter.


What bothers me is that these and other websites are serving as money making ventures for many people and yet Nigerians who form such a large percentage of those using these websites don’t seem to be benefitting financially from the Internet Industry. Facebook is about to launch an IPO that will value the firm at between $77b and $96b. Linkedin which went public last year earned about $189m in the first quarter of 2012. Why are we not hearing of Nigerian Internet based firms also making their fortunes in similar ways?


One reason could be the typical difficulty one faces in trying to set up businesses in this country. I once worked with someone who tried to make use of the Internet craze to make some money. At this time, many young Nigerians did not even know Facebook. It was quite exciting and everything was in place. But then when the time came to actually start day to day running of the business, we faced a thousand and one challenges. Electricity was a major factor. He had to purchase a generator and spent a lot of money on running it. Secondly, he faced problems with employing capable hands. I must confess that he managed to get a group of talented young people but he just couldn’t afford to pay them enough to make them stay. Access to funds was also another problem. We tried purchasing dedicated servers because we were expecting large traffic but it was so expensive that we got scared away and went for shared servers instead. Some banks did offer loans which the owner of the business accepted but the terms and conditions were far from encouraging. All these issues are what most Entrepreneurs face in this country. The company I am speaking about still exists and is relatively successful but I am sure if the environment was enabling, we could have been speaking of something close to the scale of a Nigerian Facebook right now.


Another problem many Nigerian Internet firms face is lack of innovation as regards ways of making money. Many Nigerian Social network sites rely solely on advertisements gain income. There are so many other ways one can make money if one is able to generate enough traffic. It just takes a bit of thinking out of the box and realizing that once one is able to get all these young Nigerians to pass through his website frequently then he can develop ways of making them pay just a little each time they come. 2go, a South African social networking site charges people for logging on and there are more Nigerians on that website than any other country. has done an amazing job of generating lots of traffic but as far as I know the owners are not taking advantage of the amazing money making potential that website has.


All in all, I believe that Nigerians can benefit much more from this technology than we are currently doing. I was happy to hear that someone as resourceful as Mrs. Omobola Johnson was put in charge of the Ministry of Science and Technology. I hope that by the time she leaves that office, a lot of progress would have been made.