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Computer Village Laments As Online Shops Snatch Sales

Business at major computer villages is no longer boisterous as increase in online trade is taking the large cut from N1.5 billion daily devices sale revenue from their grip, Daily Trust reports.

Some officials of the market in Lagos who spoke with Daily Trust said though traders from different parts of the country and from parts of West Africa still visited and transacted business in the Otigba Computer Village in Lagos, the frequency had since reduced due to patronage of online shops.

Records made available by the Computer and Allied Products Dealers Association of Nigeria (CAPDAN) show that transactions worth N1.5bn are traded daily at the renowned market on computers, phones, accessories and other affiliated gadgets in sales and repairs. There is also trade in cameras. The records also show that over 20 million phones are sold at the computer village monthly.

However, online shops are now taking almost 50 per cent of the daily transactions, according to Daily Trust findings.
The other computer villages mostly buy their products from Otigba in Lagos, officials told Daily Trust.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has said computer villages contributed about two per cent to the national gross domestic product (GDP).

The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, said Nigeria’s computer village was Africa’s ICT hub.

Danbatta added that the contribution of the market to the economy since the telecommunication revolution began some 16 years back was now around $32bn.

Danbatta said there were about 3000 ICT SMEs doing business in the market.

However, as with other things about Nigerians, the market also has its bad side. Issues of phones and other devices cloning; substandard products, theft and other vices are prevalent in the market.

Also, so many mobile devices sold in the market are not type-approved by the NCC, according findings by this reporter.

He further said unregistered mobile devices were not safe and negatively affected the quality of service rendered by mobile network operators in the country, stressing that NCC had huge responsibility to protect Nigerians.

“We are calling on CAPDAN to please support us to rid the market of unwanted elements peddling fake and substandard products,” he said.
Danbatta said as part of its corporate social responsibility, the commission would train many CAPDAN members, especially on how to face the challenge faced by online trading.

The President of CAPDAN, Ahmed Adeniyi Ojikutu, said the village provided the highest number of ICT solutions in Nigeria and Africa at large, stressing that the market was also known as the hardware capital of Africa, which employed the highest number of graduates in the region.
Ojikutu said their activities went beyond selling of mobile devices as the market “is a hub where a lot of technical activities go on. The level of repairs, refurbishment and software related activities that are carried out here entails skills that are at par with the expertise needed for manufacturing mobile devices from scratch. It is the belief of CAPDAN that such expertise should be leveraged on to contribute to the Nigerian economy. For us, it is time to grow the innovative and manufacturing potential of the Computer Village by upgrading it to an African ICT hub or Nigeria’s Silicon Valley or India’s Bangalore.”

The Vice Chairman of the market’s GSM Phones and Accessories Dealers Association (GPADA), Mr. Chidi Nwaka, said a lot was happening in the market.
Nwaka said more than 1000 units of mobile phones were sold daily in the market.

However, Nwaka was not sure of the precise amount the market generated each day, but he said it would not be less than N10m.
He could not say why those dealers who have direct business dealing with brands like Samsung, Iphone and others do not have shops in the market. “What is most important is for the buyers to find what they want,” he said.

He lamented inadequate foreign exchange and the emergence of online retail stores and said they were affecting their transactions.
And like Nwaka said, the Computer Village is losing customers to e-commerce retailers.

Ojikutu, however, said a solution to this revolved around operators in the market creating additional value to lure customers.
One operator, Adeniyi, advised that instead of seeking help from either government or other market segments, operators in the market must embrace technology and close ranks among themselves to create the environment for trust and confidence from visitors.

“We need to embrace the internet. Today, Yudala is taking charge because we do not even have anything like computervillage.com where people can search and obtain first-hand information about the market. How do we measure our successes and failures? The ultimate thing is to close ranks and maintain standards. By the time people visit the Computer Village and are satisfied, they will visit again,” he said.

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