‘Technology adoption can take Nigeria out of recession fast’
Uche Nwagboso is the Public Relations & Communications Lead, OLX Nigeria, a leading electronic commerce site in the country. In an email interview with ADEYEMI ADEPETUN, she spoke on the potential of the sub-sector and how technology adoption can take Nigeria out of recession.
How will you describe the e-commerce sub-sector of the economy in the last one year?
The e-commerce sector in the last one year has seen tremendous growth in the economy as more and more people are becoming aware of the convenience of shopping online. Moreso, the decrease of data prices has seen a steady growth of internet penetration in the country which has led to increase in usage of several online platforms to buy and sell.
On OLX for example, 60 per cent of traffic comes from mobile phones versus desktop
This shows that Nigerians are very innovative and adapt to new technology quickly. This made us change our strategy to target users on their mobile devices.
This was done by building a robust mobile application that would encourage lots of users to download as well as a robust site where users could buy and sell easily just like they would on their desktop. You know we have to stay ahead of the game in capturing and riding on the mobile waves.
The potential of the market is tremendous. We are constantly working to grow the market and to cement our position in Nigeria. Even though we are number one, we see ourselves as still growing and still emerging. It is still very early in the game but we always have to be aggressive and stay on our toes to ensure that nobody comes from behind to take over.
Has recession affected your line of business in the country?
It is really unfortunate the times we are in right now in the country, inflation is at an all time high at 17.20 per cent. Despite the current economic situation, OLX is doing well, People are coming to our site to look for great deals, which has increased the page views to over a 100 per cent
We are also empowering Nigerians with the opportunities to create wealth by giving them a platform to sell unused personal items at great deals to a wider audience which has increased listings on our site to over 70 per cent in the last six months and also the opportunity to buy items at great prices.
OLX Nigeria is also creating employment opportunities across the country by hiring sales champs to help users sell conveniently and quickly when they use the OLX Do- It-For-Me Service (DIFM). There are currently over a 100 Champs across Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja, and there will even be more as we continue to expand to other cities in the country.
How do you think the country can wriggle out of the recession?
Nigerians are very resilient and I have no doubt that we will soon come out of this recession. However, with the use of technology, businesses can become more efficient and have more opportunities to provide wealth.
Policies that support the growth of entrepreneurs and SME’s will lead to job and wealth creation which will eventually have a positive impact on the economy. Foreign investments and diversification of the economy will also encourage growth in the economy. Technology also helps economic growth as historically it helps with business innovation, emergence of new industries and services which lead to wealth creation. For instance, the OLX platform creates opportunities all over Nigeria for Businesses and individuals to increase their earning power.
What should be the focus of government as Nigeria celebrates another Independence Day anniversary?
The government should embrace technology and use it to operate more efficiently. Technology has transformed Nigeria and many industries, cities and countries around the world by creating wealth, jobs and opportunities for all. The current recession should be addressed as the standard of living of the average Nigerian has been reduced significantly.
Also, improving basic infrastructure, such as electricity, will have a positive impact on the lives of the citizens. Monies spent on fuelling the generators can be put to better use and environmentally, pollutions from generators will be eliminated and one more thing, if the education system is improved, the quality of average Nigerian citizen will be improved and who knows, maybe the next Bill Gate can be a Nigerian. So that should be addressed too.
Government should make things easier for the average Nigerian, empowering the average Nigerian through SME schemes and government grants to support their business, infrastructure- focus on growing SMES so more and more people are empowered financially
For the ICT sector to make positive impact in the years to come, what should be the direction?
The growth of the ICT sector in the country is very impressive and for more positive impact for years to come the government is to help overcome some challenges for example, the fact that we don’t have a strong identification system when we are trying to fight fraud to improve trust and safety. It is important to keep an eye on who you are dealing with and I think that is an area that is challenging.
To surmount that challenge, we are hoping that the introduction of the Bank Verification Number (BVN) will help in providing some identity that is consistent across different banks and institutions for Nigerian users. But again, we are willing to work with all relevant stakeholders to have some robust identification and data sharing models for all our players to tap into.
The government should also support startup ICT business by giving them Tax holidays, promote Computer Studies in school as early as the primary school level to expose them to the amazing world of technology.