We caught up with Yomi Adegboye’s one of Nigeria’s brightest minds in mobile technology. We shared his mind with us about the industry and its future. He also took us through how mobilitynigeria.com got started. Read through and enjoy our interview with him.
WTN: Let meet your sir
Yomi: I am Oluyomi Adegboye, a simple, unassuming person who loves to work behind-the-scenes. I love to have fun at all that I do. I was born in 1973 and have been married since 2000. My wife and I are blessed two kids. I am Managing Director of Alireta Nigeria Limited, one of Nigeria’s top web hosts. I also own and run Mobility Nigeria, the largest, most visited, most referenced, and most respected online source of information on mobile technology in Nigeria. Lastly, but most fulfilling of all, I am a Bible teacher and a serving pastor at Crown Bible Church in Lagos.
WTN: Your site, mobilitynigeria.com is one of the best resources on mobile technology in the country, gist us about it
Yomi: Mobility Nigeria started was born out of my personal passion for mobile connected and computing devices. There was a vacuum in the Nigerian webspace with regards getting credible information about mobile technology in Nigeria, so I simply stepped in with Mobility Nigeria. At first, progress was slow. Today, it is one of the highest traffic Nigerian websites, and certainly the most respected in view of all things mobile in Nigeria. When people get stuck with their devices and networks, they turn to Mobility Nigeria. When people from different continents need information about mobile technology in Nigeria, they turn to Mobility Nigeria.
Due to popular demand, the site now includes a delivery-only mobile store. We deliver medium and high-end mobile phones to customers located as far away as Maiduguri and Owerri. Above all, I am simply having a ball running Mobility Nigeria.
WTN: Talking about mobile and internet what opportunities are there for us to tap in Nigeria?
Yomi: The Nigerian mobile and internet landscape is still virgin territory.
One, while our internet penetration has jumped in recent times, the huge bulk of it is still in terms of social networking. There is still a dearth of quality content creation on the internet among Nigerians. As a webhost administrator, I am privileged to have access to information about the content of Nigerian websites. Sadly, the majority do not offer anything compelling in terms of really credible and useful information or in terms of services. There are a handful of brilliant Nigerian websites out there, but those are clearly in the minority. Where there is a dearth, there are opportunities.
Two, as a country we are still skirting the edges of e-commerce. Most of the services passed off as e-payment platforms now are still so cumbersome (and in some cases simply unaffordable) that nothing much is happening in this area for now. That leaves huge opportunities. Imagine what will happen when we have functional and affordable e-commerce platforms in place. The opportunities for both e-payment platform providers and merchants who will ride on such platforms are simply huge.
Three, pretty much the same scenario with e-commerce exists for mobile payments.
All in all, we are still scratching the surface here in Nigeria. We really do not need to imagine the possibilities. They are all too glaring.
WTN: Connectivity is one of the problems we are facing in the country, what do you think telecom/ISP should do to solve this?
Yomi: We must note first that telecoms providers and ISPs face tremendous challenges that have been well documented over time. It is almost a miracle that they are able to stay in operation at all. As such, they deserve our understanding.
Still, it is my informed opinion that there is a lot of overselling going on in the ISP business. By overselling, I mean that operators take on more subscribers than they have the capacity for. Naturally, this leads to less than satisfactory performance and broadband subscribers get to experience narrowband speeds.
I must add that overselling is also a prevalent practice in the web hosting sector as well – and the results are obvious. Service providers need to stop this practice.
It is also a known fact that the majority of subscribers use up very little resources while a select minority consume the majority of bandwidth. This is in spite of the fact that for the most part both those who use much and those who use little pay uniform tariffs.
For example, I am aware of some of them who charge differently for different cap speeds. There are also those who charge differently for monthly bandwidth. Those are good solutions which should yield dividends if overselling is put aside.
If ISPs make people pay for what they use, instead of taking everyone on and making the service unusable for the majority, we should see an improvement in subscriber experience.
WTN: Their prices seem to be the same across the board, is there a kind of cartel behind this?
Yomi: Well, it very often looks so. However, there is no way to prove that. Personally, I think that it is more of the “follow-follow” syndrome and no-one wanting to rock the boat or stick their neck out.
WTN: How will you rate Nigerian internet market in terms of how we have harnessed is opportunity?
Yomi: By and large, we haven’t harnessed the opportunity too well. As mentioned earlier, there are a few stellar performances, but the average is less than satisfactory.
For example, there are internet startups springing up all over the country. I have been watching things keenly for years. One of these has brilliant ideas and concepts, but most of those startups have no viable income generation plan. Part of the problem is a lack of e-commerce and m-payment platforms. As we see better infrastructure and enabling environment, it will be easier for the average Joe to play profitably on the Nigerian internet market.
It is not a hopeless forecast though. At least, more and more people are getting on the internet market. The more the merrier. Hopefully when the enabling environment comes on stream, things will get really hot.
WTN: What is missing is it funding or innovator to put Nigeria in the right place?
Yomi: It is a combination of both.
Funding is largely missing. The Nigerian business environment demands 2-3 years of rent, sundry government levies and taxes, extra expenses such as expenses for fuel generation, et al. Yet, banks generally only pay lip-service to supporting SMEs. Some months back, my company approached our bankers for a small loan. Our bank records were good. We had the cash flow to cover the loan, but we were told that the group head had put an embargo on loans below N10 million.
We did not need even a million. We needed less than that to cover a temporary shortfall of funds and we were disqualified because we weren’t asking for N10 million. Being small was our only offense.
Small and medium enterprises are largely on their own in the Nigerian market.
There isn’t a lot of innovation out there either, but as I have already stated there are some ideas that simply cannot fly now because certain infrastructure are not in place. I doff my hat to the individuals and groups that are able to make things happen right now inspite of the prevailing environment.
WTN: Can a world class mobile/web application emerge from Nigeria?
Yomi: The question (not the answer) is “Why not?” All someone has to do is either look for a unique need and meet it, or play around long enough with ideas till he or she hits a home run.
WTN: What should we expect from you anytime from now?
Yomi: That is a difficult question for me to answer. While I am a very brilliant and intelligent person, I am not ambitious as most people define ambition. I don’t live looking for the next big thing. I enjoy what I do now, what I have, where I am and try to simply make a difference in the little everyday things.
Right now, I am happily serving our webhosting clients at Alireta, running Mobility Nigeria, and pastoring. I am involved with mentoring young people through AspirePrime.com, a personal project. I am also helping married couples to address the most vital issue marriage through The Marriage Bed Seminars, a new project of mine.
You will agree with me that I have my hands full already. I’ll just keep being me, taking life one day at a time, and putting the best effort into what I am already doing, and innovating with those. Still, who knows tomorrow? If I have anything new, you’ll certainly hear from me!
WTN: Where do you see Nigerian Internet market in the next 3-5years?
Yomi: The Nigerian internet market will grow in leaps and bounds. With the arrival of two major submarine cables, we are looking at lower tariffs and better service. That will promote growth. Hopefully, the other factors required to mature the market as discussed already will be thrown into the mix as well and Nigerians can play ball and truly compete on the global scene.
WTN: What should we be doing now to get there?
Yomi: Everything that we can. It is always a bad idea to sit down and do nothing because there are problems on ground. We should be doing everything within our power to move forward and find a way around limitations. Even if it is one step forward that we are able to make, one step is progress. Hopefully after taking one step, we can take another, and another, and so on.
WTN: Any advice for technopreneurs?
Yomi: Dare. Dare to imagine. Dare to think. Dare to plan. Dare to step out. You won’t get anything done by complaining about the shortcomings. Complain if you will, but dare to aspire!
WTN: Thank you
Yomi: Thank you for the opportunity, and do keep up the good job.