I was recently posted to serve in Niger state, and I decided to take a bus to the NYSC camp. Barely 25kilometers away from where I set out, I began to see mud houses, roofed with dry leaves, straws and palm fronds, this continued for the next 3 hours, only sparsely interrupted by little patches of metropolitan areas. This led me to come to the conclusion that most of the country is made up of rural and largely undeveloped areas.
This raises so many questions,
- How many of these people in the rural areas have phones for calls, much less subscribe to data services?
- If such a large number of people cannot access the Internet, who then as Nigerian developers are we building for? Who will use our products?
I think right now, a lot of work is still left to be done in the Nigerian tech scene, of which the first focus should be to get devices into the hands of people like these: The farmers, the driver in the rural area, the low-income earner, that Village trader who has no access to the city.
People in cities oft live in a bubble, and seem think that the rest of the country is exactly the same way their cities are. This however, could not be further from the truth as there is a vast difference in infrastructure between the cities and the rural settlements. City-dwelling tech founders, unaware of this, disregard a majority of Nigerians which might actually be their customer base.
Just a few people have grasped the concept that not all people have access to their websites, web applications and other applications they have developed in the same way. Some use java phones, others use smartphones, while a few others use computers.
To remedy this, Facebook for example, has so many versions, adaptive to which device you access it with.
Who knows? this might be the reason nairaland is the go-to website if you want to interact with regular Nigerians. Because of it’s simplicity and the obvious absence of the embellishments which have come to characterize websites today.
The work being done to grow the Nigerian developer community has really caught fire, and attention should now be turned towards making sure everyone has Internet, and a device to access the Internet. I'm not going to say the government should do anything, or ask of anything of the government, I honestly wouldn't know what to ask for, but these are a few things to think about while building your next product, like Stephen Afam once said, when next you build, build for opera mini, keeping in mind that a large number of Nigerians are not on the Internet, and the ones that are, still access your website through Chinese phones and sub-standard devices.