Is Google’s GNBO Trying To Kill Nigerian Web Businesses?

Here’s a little background.

Google is launching an initiative called Getting Nigerian Businesses Online (GNBO). This scheme will provide one year of free hosting, domain registration, email and a website for participants.

Loy raises an alarm saying this would kill Nigerian web hosting, registration and design businesses in an instant. ‘Bosun rightly counters and raises a number of valid points.

Before responding, I would like to declare that I participated in the British version of this scheme called (GBBO). (Update: This is the current website)

In simple terms, GNBO would not kill Nigerian web hosting and co because of the following reasons.

The only new thing Google is doing is giving one year of free domain name registration, the other offerings have always been free (Google Sites, Google Apps and the the hosting that comes with both of them). So if the only website you can design is similar to a Google site template, then you might be in trouble… for one year. The domain names in question are only .com.ng domains too. We should also remember that Google does not offer any personal support therefore it can be rightly argued that Google is essentially developing the market for others to harness.

However there is a bigger question Loy should be trying to raise. What are Google’s intentions with this initiative? Is it as charitable like they market it? Nope.

Therein lies my problem with Google. They market pure capitalist strategies as charitable initiatives.

For instance, Google is presently sponsoring broadband in a number of Nigerian universities. Their aim is simple, get as many people online. The more people on the Internet, the greater reach for their on line advertizing inventory. Yup, while getting them online, get them using gmail and other Google properties. Same as with the free domain name/website/rs to hosting initiative, they get an awesome local directory listing while getting local businesses online

So you see, these ‘freebies’ are purely intelligent capitalist initiatives. I get offended when they are pitched otherwise. These investments will not pay off now however in a few years they will. It is obvious Africa is the next frontier for growth and in a competitive world, he who wins Africa, tips the scale. In the marathon of world web domination, Google is essentially breaking out from the pack that is still milking whats left in the west, while they Google sprint towards the finish line which is Africa and other ‘developing’ countries.

Do not get me wrong, I do not believe the deal Google offers is unfair in both the broadband and domain name cases, they are. All I ask is that Google stops pitching them as charity.