By Charles Mgbolu
Despite frantic outbursts and cries from virtually everyone in the know on computers and its accessories in the country both from local and international sources for cheaper computers and laptops, which would help bring the populace closer to the internet, prices of these devices have continued to soar with the latest Mackbookpro laptop nipping a whopping three hundred and forty thousand naira in today’s ICT market.
The exorbitant prices diminish hopes from ICT conventions that had been held in recent years with plans to have atleast one internet-enabled system in every home in the country by the year 2020. Contrary to the mobile phone market play out, where every new mobile device introduced into the market helps reduce the prices of existing phone items is not only very wrong in the case with the computers but also almost impossible.
According to market price evaluations, regular scale laptops with webcams have been sitting in the N120,000 to N150,000 range for as long as anyone could remember.
According to information gleaned on the features of these laptops, the inner mechanisms and product setups have all been the same. Alterations had only come in work power and increased memory load but the feeling is that these don’t justify the high prices.
According to Mr Nyibo Odero, Google’s Office Lead, English-speaking West Africa at the launch of Google Maps Nigeria introduced in the middle of this year, he had said and quite heatedly too “It is very important to make internet accessories easily available to people in this country and then the prices! Even for a simple standard laptop is crazy!” This had been months ago.
Google’s Vice President (Technology), EMEAA (English Middle-East, Asia and Africa), Nelson Mattos had even been more blunt. He had said that he did not see the African continent as a market potential for Internet-broadband access as far as he was concerned.
He said the continent remained low and poor on internet infrastructure and penetration to be termed a market spot.
This had created a raucous amongst journalists present at this briefing but Mattos had stood by his claim; he’d said that even though much had been invested in various African countries in terms of ICT development “African nations still need to do a lot to grow”
Coming back, a lot are seeing this escalating price issue as a very discouraging scenario. It is no mince meat to cough out thousands of naira under present situations befalling most Nigerians to acquire computers further plunging the nation away from the internet age. Yet, a good number are unsympathetic to the situation.
Their arguments are weak but their resolve very strong. They claim the sky rending prices only further reiterates that laptops or desktop computers are not for everyone to use. This is not true and we will not be over deliberating on it.
What is however yet to be fully understood by industry experts is the reason for these staggering figures. Is it the dollar/ naira exchange? This does not seem to be the reason as interpretations from reactions and comments from the Google representatives show that things at the computer market on the dollar level remain very reasonable. — Charles Mgbolu