By Emmanuel Elebeke
It is possible for NigeriaÂ Cyber CafÃ© industryÂ to blossom again and become a hot bed for entrepreneurs,Â the PresidentÂ of Nigeria Internet Group (NIG), Engr. Lanre Ajayi has said.
He said could be achieved only when the operators are focused, dedicated, andÂ prepared to bring to bear the needed professionalism and innovative skills into the business, without necessarily succumbing to the obvious infrastrutural challenges facing the industry.
Ajayi who stated this in Lagos admitted that the industry is currently going through a lot of challenges but submitted that the problem can be surmounted with the right attitude.
Apart from job creation, the Cyber CafÃ© industry when fully comes on stream will enhance e-gorvernance which is about to take the centre stage in all human activity both inÂ private and public domain.
Ajayi who spoke while delivering a key note address at theÂ one day survival workshop and mini exhibition, organized by Media Mart limited in Lagos, with the theme â€œ Scarcity Verses Cost-taking; The Broadband Challenges. Practical Solutions to all Cyber CafÃ© and SME Internet Challengesâ€Â saidÂ the survival of Cyber CafÃ© business in a challenging terrain likeÂ Nigeria requires people who are bold andÂ determined to excel in the business with passion and are able toÂ turn around a challenging situation into a fortune, assertingÂ that the industry is not just an all comers business, butÂ for only the lion hearted and serious minded operators.
He posited that forÂ some first generation Cyber CafÃ©â€™s in the country to remain in business till date despite the obvious challenges involved, the message is clear and it would be wrong for anyone to attribute the failure of the industry to infrastrutural inadequacy in the country, and attributed it to lack of skills and managerial inadequacy.
The Cyber CafÃ©, survival workshop was aimed at helping operators in the industry toÂ find lasting solutions to the cause of sudden collapse in the industry, and how best they could exploit new frontiers within their disposal to maximize profit in the difficult terrain. Recalling the boom days ofÂ theÂ industry,Â Ajayi said the operators then were able to brake even because VOIP was functioning but with evolution of telecom, VOIP declined. To ensure continued sustenance of the industry, he said only a change of approach by the operators will do the magic of saving the ailing industryÂ from possible collapse.
According to him, changing ofÂ tacticsÂ by the operators had become necessary in view of theÂ dynamics inherent in running Cyber CafÃ© business in the modern day business, more especially as it concerns emerging technologies.
This is even as he revealed that demand for internet services had started increasing, this is in addition toÂ Â adoption of online payment in the government establishments across the country in line with the global best practices.
This according to him underscores the need for evolution of Cyber business in Nigeria, built on strong business ideals and professional competence.
He cited the recent adoption of e-registrationÂ by the West African Examination Council (WAEC) andÂ theÂ directives issued byÂ the federal government to its parastatals on adoption ofÂ e-payment formular, a situation he said bears credence to expected possibilities in the industry, a development he was optimistic could sparkÂ of a quantum jump in the number of Cyber Cafes operating in Nigeria, if diligently adhered to.
â€œToday, there are more awareness than before about online transactions. Demand for internet services is climbing, and government businesses very soon will move up to online, and whether they like it or not, it is coming to stay. The recent commencement of e-registration by WAEC and the recent directives from the federal government to its parastatals on theÂ adoption ofÂ e-payment system are clear indicators of what will happen soon in the industry. When this happens, Iâ€™m sureÂ will give rise to a quantum jump to the number of Cyber CafÃ© in the country as against whatÂ we have today.
â€œIâ€™m sure they areÂ possibilities, by that timeÂ the operators of Cyber CafÃ© will have no choice than to go back to business. Every businessÂ needs to go online now because e-business encourages 24 hours operation in a week.Â It also reduces a lot of bottlenecks, as well as inconveniences associated with traditional business. In fact, I can see some prospects for CyberÂ industry and I have no iota of doubt in me about the future of the industry, â€ Ajayi averred.
At the workshop, different presentations were made byÂ industry experts including: Chief Executive Officer of Junisat Communications, Engr. Gbenga Ojuri, who spoke on the theme â€œBandwidth Myths and Realityâ€.
According to Ojuri,Â the problem with Nigeria Cyber business lies with limited bandwidth access by the operators, and positedÂ thatÂ no bandwidth could be said to be infinite anywhere in the world. He saidÂ the only wayÂ to maximize the available bandwidth to the operatorsÂ isÂ through periodic upgrading. While warning against the danger of overloading of bandwidth capacity, Ajayi advised industry players not toÂ rely wholly on foreign configurations , since according to him Nigerian terrain differs from that ofÂ the manufacturing countries, maintaining that only constant upgrading of network access pointsÂ could guaranteeÂ their continued stay in the business.
â€œOne of the reasons why bandwidths fail us is that they are not meant for us in the first place and ourÂ Satelight have started falling off. Avoid overloading of bandwidth capacity. In terms of ISP, Nigeria situation focus should be on the affordability of service and customer satisfaction,.â€ he urged.
One of the exhibitors at the occasion, iPNX Nigeria Limited , represented by Kaseem Shitu blamed the failure of industry on wrong use of application and professional advise. For the industryÂ to beÂ revived, he suggested that basic needs such as infrastructure among which includes: power, high cost of bandwidth, poor technology infrastructure, friendly taxation for ISPs, affordable data cards, moderms andÂ fraud must be addressed.
Earlier in his welcome address, Managing Director and Chief Executive of Media Mart limited, Mr. Ejiofor Agada informed the audience thatÂ the workshop became necessary following a wide range of complains received from industry players and members of the public, which ranges from power, and high cost of facilitiesÂ afterÂ an extensive research conducted by Media Mart.
â€œWe are trying to prove them wrong. Those who think Cyber CafÃ© business in Nigeria is dead. IfÂ it can work in places like US, it can also work in Nigeria. So,Â it is not dead. We are actually trying to teach people how they can use what they have to get what they want. This event is meant to serve as an antidote for the seeming unprofitability in the Cyber CafÃ©, and sundry solutions arena in Nigeria today. We intend to help ISPs and other Cyber CafÃ©s operators to bridge the existing gaps between them.â€ Ejiofor said.
He however, advised operators who desire to brake even in the business notÂ to rely on assumption but on relevant information, avoid short cut measures, understand the market , security implications, avoid wrong use of technology and managerial skills. He also advised themÂ Â Â to shun the temptation of band-wagon syndrome, insisting that only those with the right managerial skills and strategies can survive.