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Stakeholders gather for ailing Cyber industry

By Emmanuel Elebeke
It is possible for Nigeria  Cyber Café industry  to blossom again and become a hot bed for entrepreneurs,  the President  of Nigeria Internet Group (NIG), Engr. Lanre Ajayi has said.

He said could be achieved only when the operators are focused, dedicated, and  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 Café industry when fully comes on stream will enhance e-gorvernance which is about to take the centre stage in all human activity both in  private and public domain.

Ajayi who spoke while delivering a key note address at the  one day survival workshop and mini exhibition, organized by Media Mart limited in Lagos, with the theme “ Scarcity Verses Cost-taking; The Broadband Challenges. Practical Solutions to all Cyber Café and SME Internet Challenges”  said  the survival of Cyber Café business in a challenging terrain like  Nigeria requires people who are bold and  determined to excel in the business with passion and are able to  turn around a challenging situation into a fortune, asserting  that the industry is not just an all comers business, but  for only the lion hearted and serious minded operators.

He posited that for  some first generation Cyber Café’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 Café, survival workshop was aimed at helping operators in the industry to  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 of  the  industry,  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 industry  from possible collapse.

According to him, changing of  tactics  by the operators had become necessary in view of the  dynamics inherent in running Cyber Café 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 to   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-registration  by the West African Examination Council (WAEC) and  the  directives issued by  the federal government to its parastatals on adoption of  e-payment formular, a situation he said bears credence to expected possibilities in the industry, a development he was optimistic could spark  of a quantum jump in the number of Cyber Cafes operating in Nigeria, if diligently adhered to.

“Today, 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 the  adoption of  e-payment system are clear indicators of what will happen soon in the industry. When this happens, I’m sure  will give rise to a quantum jump to the number of Cyber Café in the country as against what  we have today.

“I’m sure they are  possibilities, by that time  the operators of Cyber Café will have no choice than to go back to business. Every business  needs to go online now because e-business encourages 24 hours operation in a week.  It also reduces a lot of bottlenecks, as well as inconveniences associated with traditional business. In fact, I can see some prospects for Cyber  industry and I have no iota of doubt in me about the future of the industry, ” Ajayi averred.

At the workshop, different presentations were made by  industry experts including: Chief Executive Officer of Junisat Communications, Engr. Gbenga Ojuri, who spoke on the theme “Bandwidth Myths and Reality”.

According to Ojuri,  the problem with Nigeria Cyber business lies with limited bandwidth access by the operators, and posited  that  no bandwidth could be said to be infinite anywhere in the world. He said  the only way  to maximize the available bandwidth to the operators  is  through periodic upgrading. While warning against the danger of overloading of bandwidth capacity, Ajayi advised industry players not to  rely wholly on foreign configurations , since according to him Nigerian terrain differs from that of  the manufacturing countries, maintaining that only constant upgrading of network access points  could guarantee  their continued stay in the business.

“One of the reasons why bandwidths fail us is that they are not meant for us in the first place and our  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,.” 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 industry  to be  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 and  fraud must be addressed.

Earlier in his welcome address, Managing Director and Chief Executive of Media Mart limited, Mr. Ejiofor Agada informed the audience that  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 facilities  after  an extensive research conducted by Media Mart.

“We are trying to prove them wrong. Those who think Cyber Café business in Nigeria is dead. If  it can work in places like US, it can also work in Nigeria. So,  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 Café, and sundry solutions arena in Nigeria today. We intend to help ISPs and other Cyber Cafés operators to bridge the existing gaps between them.” Ejiofor said.

He however, advised operators who desire to brake even in the business not  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 them    to shun the temptation of band-wagon syndrome, insisting that only those with the right managerial skills and strategies can survive.


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