It is fashionable to tout raw figures at conferences, seminars and on our websites. For example, it sounds all good and dandy to push the fact that Nigeria has 50 million mobile internet subscribers. That is a huge number that should excite anyone looking to invest in that direction. So, let’s assume that someone is looking at setting up a new e-commerce mobile website. The devil is in the details.
What investors should be looking at should be what chunk of that 50 million is a viable market. We have statistics that 90% of Nigerians live on less than $2 a day. That is less than N300 daily. Chances are that a huge chunk of people living on less than N300 daily do not have a mobile internet subscription, but just by way of illustration, if we apply that ratio to the mobile internet subscribers figure, we are looking at roughly 5 million mobile internet subscribers who live on a figure of $2 and above daily. They do not necessarily have the purchasing power to actually buy what you are selling, depending on what it is. As such, the real figure for a viable market will be much less. We would also have to factor in demographics – those specifically interested in what you have to sell or offer.
I am no business or economics guru, but the tech sector in Nigeria needs a big reality check. There is a lot of noise and hype going on, with many projections being unrealistic. I had a chat with Mr. Titi Omo-Ettu of CyberSchuulNews.com recently at his office. During our discussion, he said to me, “Yomi, how much money is really being made in the online sector? It looks to me that there is more noise than substance.” I agreed with him. We need to start crunching the hard numbers. We are not there yet with mobile and with ICT/tech in general.