We were one of the first to tell you how telecommunications operators are cleaning out here in Nigeria and perhaps all over the world during the lock-down occasioned by the pandemic. It was always a common sense that since people are forced by the social distancing guidelines to remain at home, they communicated through their devices by data and by voice. Hence, the telecommunications companies made more money.
The operators have been coy at admitting that they made more money; let it not be that they benefited from the misfortune of others. There is also the fact that virtually every other sector had their revenues crashing down.
While the Airtel CEO gave a hint that they fared better than other sectors at a UBA CEO round-table last month, he stopped short at admitting that they indeed made more money. But finally, the Airtel Group has released its financial statement that noted that the revenue of Airtel grew by 8.9 per cent during this period.
DOES CORONAVIRUS COME OUT BY 3 PM?
The havoc occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic is still ravaging the land and there has been untold economic and emotional hardship in its wake. As a result, the partial lockdown is ongoing.
Dealers at the Ikeja Computer Village have been impacted by this unfortunate situation in no small measure. As a fallout of the partial easing of the shutdown, markets are allowed to open, every other second day but are only allowed to transact business up to 3 pm.
This has frustrated so many dealers that they have turned it into a wry joke for therapeutic reasons probably. As it gets close to 3 pm every second day they are opened, they start joking that they would soon close their shops because it is getting close to the time coronavirus comes out. Ask them why they think it is a joke and they will ask you whether coronavirus comes out by 3 pm.
Despite the death toll from the virus and the infection rate in the country, so many people are still skeptical about the spread. A lot of dealers at computer village say they think it is politics. Even those that agree that the virus is spreading feel that politics has been added to it and the government is still “hyping” it for reasons known best to them.
UNEASY CALM AT COMPUTER VILLAGE
As soon as the coronavirus lockdown was eased more than a month ago, trouble brewed at the Ikeja Computer Village between the dealers in the village and the traditional market dealers installed in the village. We told you few weeks ago that it came to a head when there was disagreement over the installation of the gates in the village.
There have been efforts to mediate between the dealers and the traditional market leaders by officials of the local government and even the state government and we hear that the police too play a role. After all, there is a dedicated police post in the village.
Hence, there has been an uneasy calm in the village in the last couple of weeks as the two sides try to tolerate each other. The computer village dealers have never accepted the market leaders since they were installed over a year ago.
PRICE OF PHONES AND COMPUTERS SKYROCKET
The prices of phones and computers have continued to climb even as the economic downturn continues to bite harder. A visit to phone shops across the country confirms that a lot of these products have added a substantial amount.
Despite the fact that people are losing their jobs across the country and indeed the world and there is now little disposable income for a lot of people, prices continue to climb because of the attendant inflation brought about by the shutdown of some lines of production in some countries where these products are manufactured.
There is also the fact that shipping has also slowed down across the world as the shutdown affects logistics companies, despite the fact that they have been given the status of essential services and only a limited number of airlines are allowed to fly.
Meanwhile, one of the cardinal reasons for the price increase is because of the precipitous fall in the value of the Naira against foreign currencies. This is as a result of the fall in the value of oil which is the mainstay of the Nigeria economy. These items are imported from abroad with foreign currency.
OPERATORS OFFER DISCOUNTS ON DATA
The major telecommunication companies across the country have continued to compete at breakneck speed for the soul of Nigeria subscribers with their products and services. Recognizing that a lot of people have little disposable income these days but at the same time, require more data for communication as the partial lockdown continues, the operators are offering several data packages to retain their customers.
There have been a number of discounts and bonuses. Little money is buying a lot of data right now and the operators have also been rewarding subscribers with free text messages. Hence, a lot of people are using SMS after a long time of abandoning the service for social media. It is free after all.
EVEN TRADE SHOWS ARE GOING VIRTUAL
It is no longer news that as a result of the social distancing guidelines because of the Covid-19 pandemic, crowded events are hardly holding anywhere in the world. Nigeria and indeed Lagos State is not an exception as event centres have continued to reel under the effect.
Hence, since life must go on, people have continued to hold events online in the last few months. These events include religious and social activities, as well as individual celebrations.
Perhaps as some kind of experiment, trade shows have also started to go virtual. A number of tradeshows which were cancelled as a result of the pandemic have been indicating their intentions to hold virtual events. Some of them have been advertising their spaces.
However, there is some doubt about the usefulness of a virtual trade show as these goods and services, proposing to be displayed at these virtual shows are already online in the first place. Visitors can as well simply visit their websites or they shop in web malls. We will see how far this experiment goes.
NCC PREPARES NIGERIANS FOR 5G
There is no doubt that the fifth generation of mobile networks, otherwise known as 5G has been very controversial, not only in Nigeria but around the world. The installation of the network around the world was happening around the same time as a global pandemic and conspiracy theorists were quick to link the two. Hence, there has even been the destruction of 5G towers in developed countries.
The Nigeria Communications Commission has continued to try to allay the fears of Nigerians when it comes to the conspiracy theories. Though 5G was tried in Nigeria towards the end of last year, there has not been any timeline of the licensing of the spectrum to telecommunications companies in Nigeria. That did not stop individuals from coming up with various conspiracy theories, claiming that the network is already operational in Nigeria.
These conspiracies have made the implementation of 5G a hot button issue in Nigeria to the extent that the national assembly issued a statement that NCC should suspend implementation until the issues are sorted out.
The NCC has continued to not only debunk the theories but has started to prepare Nigerians for the eventual rollout of 5G networks. The commission has been putting out releases about the possible benefits of the network to the Nigeria economy. Meanwhile, 5G was launched in South Africa recently.
MEET THE IYALOJA OF COMPUTER VILLAGE
Since she was installed last year; the Iyaloja (female market leader) of Computer Village has continued to rise in influence within the village. She is Abisola Azeez Raolat. She has been in the computer business for more than 26 years and holds a degree in linguistics. She has been selling laptops and computers even several years before the establishment of the Ikeja Computer Village as West Africa’s largest market place for information technology products.
We hear that she was even one of the founding members of the Computer and Allied Products Dealers Association of Nigeria (CAPDAN), the umbrella body of the dealers in the computer village. In fact, she was said to be one of those who registered the group and played a very pivotal role from the beginning.
A graduate of the University of Benin, she was said to have already been referred to as Iyaloja as a nickname in the village for more than 10 years because of her contribution to the developments in the market.
GOOGLE HOME SET TO CHANGE WAKE WORD
The smart speaker from the stable of search engine giant, Google known as Google may soon change the wake word of the speaker. Users have continued to complain that for the past four years, they have been forced to say “ok Google” to wake the speaker to respond to commands. This is because the wake word is not only a mouthful but a proprietary word which does not sound sassy at all.
Several months ago, industry watchers discovered that Google updated the device with the possibility of changing the wake word. However, nothing was heard long after that. We hear right now that there is another chatter within the google development community about a “wake word” change.