If you ask me, Nigeria is ripe for it. Very ripe, for e-commerce being the most populous black Country in the world. But the people? no-no! they are not ready for e-commerce, or any hi-tech-driven bizness innovation for that matter. Most electronically powered bizness activities don’t work here. No, I’m not talking about NEPA, NITEL or whatever their names might have become these days, they are working not. I talk about mobile communication and cashless transactions. We suck at both in service-delivery.
All 150 million Nigerians may not feel this way because not every one is E-literate. So, this may just as well be a private angst at the situation of things. Most of my friends and bizness associates are educated people, but many still prefer striking stones to Kindle Fire (Trade Mark). Developments like this give me the confidence that e-commerce won’t work here till the rest of the world have moved on in the human evolution.
This angst has been provoked by the recent development in the bottle-necked-ness I experienced trying to carry on a bizness transaction electronically in the supposed cashless Lagos. A client on facebook paid a required amount of money (cash) into our account for copies of Richard Ali’s City Of Memories, and Teju Cole’s Open City by 1400Hours yesterday, but we never got the alert until 1200Hours today. (That was quick, though. We uses one of the First Banks in Nigeria to have embraced the internet)
We are out of stock so I visited a outlet to procure the requested items. I have little cash on me, but thankfully the shop has a POS. But the girl at the counter had asked for cash: she don’t seem to know what to do with the POS gadget. I offered to help operate it, but she gave me that kinda look you’ll get from an ashawo if you asked to fuck first and pay later. To my relief (short-lived) there is a ATM machine in the vicinity of the shopping mall. I joined the long and lenghtening queue to withdraw the cash I need. It got to my turn just when my tired legs were giving out under me. I followed all due protocols, read the scam-alert notice flashing on the screen, listened patiently to the advertisement playing from some hidden speakers; I supplied my secret password, pressed “withdrawal” typed in the needed amount, pressed proceed: no proceed came forth. WTF!. I tried again, starting frustratingly all over- 5 times until the machine showed “insufficient fund” WTF! I would have punched, or kicked or scratched, or screamed at the broke-ass ATM machine but the person standing behind me on the queue was a Reverend Gentleman- A Priest. Next to him was a uniformed police woman- a pretty red-lip-sticked officer she was. So I kept my cool, smiled saintly, retrieved my card and calmly walked away. That bleeding ATM was the only ATM machine within a hundred miles radius of the shopping mall. So the going was tough. But I kept going like a true Lagosian.
After trying for the umpteenth time I got through to Morgan, a trusted mobile books salesman. He is the only other dealer I know who stocks the required books. This is the millionth time I have dialed his number without response, and my phone’s battery is just about to go flat. I am here stranded, a thousand miles from my base, cashless, and my objective of prompt delivery of the ordered book as planned, defeated. My mind is off that now, I had to get off this Island and join the rush hour traffic on Third Mainland Bridge.
What has a stone age society got to do with mobile telephony, e-governance, e-commerce, or e-dating. We are cool with the Television, to watch Nollywood whenever fuel is available to run the generator plants in this perpetual fuel-scarcity. We are cool to make free-mid-night call, whenever the GSM is not so garbled, at least it works for e-sex, and we have internet modems given for free by the cut-throat-competing service providers. This had aided many a young Lagosian in yahoo-yahoo bizness.
In Igbo enwisdomization, a wise man counts his teeth with his tongue. The purport of this is that LET US STICK TO WHAT WORKS FOR US. I am sure such innovative ideals as striking stones to start a fire, works better than Kindle Fire; picking wind-fall cherries is smarter that Pinging on Blackberry, agbolumo is more edible than Apple. We must advance as a society before we must begin to employ advanced technology to our caveman systems. It will be too much of an up-hill task monkeying after the advaced western countries like Benin Republic (Former Dahomey) or Ghana (former Gold Coast) or Cote D’Ivoire (fore Ivory Coast) We are Nigeria, and Nigeria we have always been. Only name of NEPA (former ECN) has changed, and NITEL is extinct. Change is hard, traditionally speaking.
My Friends And I, is as far as e-Governance got for instance. The book is not even selling. WTF
So much ado for e-commerce in Nigeria, or what you will.