Cleaning Nigeria's image on the Internet: The way forward.

This post concerns Nigeria’s image that pertains to ebusiness/ecommerce. As for the issues of politics, corruption e.t.c, we’ll discuss that another day.Cleaning Nigeria's Image

I got a true experience about the way we are viewed by people outside Nigeria during my first week of classes.During lectures, a majority of course tutors found it compulsory to  associate Nigeria publicly with fraud. In one of the classes, the consultant from IBM actually had a full slide on ‘Nigerian Scam Mails’ among major internet security issues. i.e. we were next to viruses, rated next higher than spyware, Trojans.  Google even used a ‘Nigerian Scam’ as part of their April fool’s joke this year which  I found funny but sad.  I am amazed at the negative reputation Nigeria has and got within three years of getting online (we started actively in about 2000). Obviously we are not the only ones that perpetuate  fraud as you can see here but something must have made Nigeria become synonymous with online scams.

This is not a time for denial, or defense by saying “only the foolishly greedy people fall for it”, “we are repatriating the dues owed to our slave ancestors”. I dare say that A VAST majority of young Nigerian dudes use the internet to perpetuate fraud and with the help of email spiders and spamming engines it is not a big surprise that majority of the world’s people have got a mail for Nigeria seeking to make them rich. Unfortunately, majority of the  perpetrators have no idea of the effect their deeds are having on us and the dangers towards our children.

How did we get here?

I remember my first contact with the internet around 1998 (which was way way early) thanks to my classmate Chiedu. Chiedu would  use the internet to print out the latest shoes, the latest Guinness Book of world records and help a few people register email addresses. That was about what the internet was for… to us

Fast forward to 2001/3 when wider adoption became possible and the young lads began to get access to the internet.  We  had   no success stories  of Jeff Bezos (Amazon.com),  Jerry Yang (Yahoo!), Larry/ Sergey (Google) e.t.c  to look up to. The only ‘success’ on the internet in Nigeria was by those who committed fraud and it was obvious to anyone who wanted to be a success online… commit fruad.

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I have met a lot of people who are internet scammers a.k.a Yahoo boys  and I have tried to make them see reason why they should stop the fraud and stop spoiling Nigerias Image. The reply has consistently been “You go give me food chop” i.e will you feed me? When I pointed out they could channel their existing skills on legitimate internet enterprises majority of the responses were “I swear, if you show me the way, I will definitely follow you”

The last statement is the clarion call for anyone who wants to reduce drastically (there will always be fraudsters everywhere) the high incidence of scams and to empower the Nigerian youth. I have to tell you categorically these ‘ Nigerian Scammers’  have very important skills that could be transferred to any start up company. For example:  in a scam, one person will have to lie to several victims (some call them clients) assuming different roles (lawyer, agent, business partner). These scammers dedicatedly follow leads for hours and months unending. A few make are successful (majority of which are a few hundred pounds) while the others keep trying.  Some scams require individuals to build complete replicas of Bank websites with scripts to do phishing. Imagine if this their dedication, faith  and programming skills could be directed at a legitimate business where they do not need to hide?

Things are changing now and Nigerians have started getting involved in the startup community of the world and showing their stuff.  Unfortunately, we are almost getting sucked into the  consumer mentality that has characterized our other industries. We have to start putting more effort in creating.  Having a business based on Google adwords, or selling on eBay is not what we should be proud of. We should start thinking of creating our own ebay and Amazon. But don’t get me wrong, Nigeria has some impressive startup companies on the internet but one thing you’ll notice is the absence of their identity on the ‘about page’ . I am making a sure guess that they lack confidence in their Nigerian identity. I doubt having ‘Nigerian’ on your biography will give you more sales.

READ  Camera Phones,BB, Twitter, Facebook and Nigerian Elections: A match made in Heaven?

I’l be letting some out of the bag here. Some examples of impressive  startups pioneered by Nigerians include

  • Facebooklicous: Founded by my good friend  and brother (KCOB) Udoka, He has also  launched the first Nigerian game Application on Facebook. You can install it Here
  • HopStop: This is one of the most important travel planners in  New York, US founded by Chinedu Echeruo.
  • iKobo: a pioneer in remittances  but has been acquired  after some years. It was founded by Emeka Ohuche
  • We have a major blogger in the person of Dare Obasanjo and I believe he should try to promote Nigerian startups: This is not a startup but an influential Tech Blogger who works with Microsoft

As for our home based start ups I know of:

  • Booksng.com: They are hoping to be the Amazon.com of Nigeria.
  • Startup Nigeria: This is a blog by Loy Okezie, which covers Nigerian Startup Companies but has run into some problems recently.
  • Riranwo: Aggregating Nigerian information on the web.
  • Nairaland and Nairalist: Seun Osewa owns the most popular Nigerian website worldwide. (tell them I said so)

Very importantly, I wish to thank Mr. Mitchell Elegbe of Interswitch for leading the way in developing our e payment platform.

Next Steps:

Nigerians and everyone interested in battling the scourge of internet fraud should help promote the few Nigerian Startups so that those who are seeking to make a way on the internet will see positive role models to look up to. For instance all Nigerian papers and blogs should encourage Sturvs and have ‘sturv this’ alongside digg and co, Purchase books from BookNg, e.t.c.

Nigerian banks and investment companies should seriously start looking to invest in Nigerian technology startups. A  Nigerian mentor of mine who lives in silicon valley travelled to Nigeria for a project and was disappointed with the lack of interest in technology businesses. When we start investing in our own, others will follow suit.

READ  Life as a Second Class Citizen of the Web

The Federal Government (the first and only time I am calling them) should stop the politics with Nigeria’s TLD name .com.ng . and get the domain  .ng  working so we can have our identity online. we should not have to call our sites Interswitchng.com it should be interswitch.ng

To the influential people of the web:  contrary to beliefs that Aston Kutcher Twitting will save Africa, helping promoting Nigerian and African entrepreneues will . With such success, we can then take care of our problems.

It is my personal ambition to create a new cadre of Nigerian entrepreneurs and this quest has led me to attending the right events like TechCrunch and  Launch48 (where I had the opportunity  to be part of the team that Launced VouChaCha) thereby  networking with the right people who have shown sincere interest in helping me re orientate the Nigerian youths;  Thanks Allan, Simone and Ken Banks. I should also point out that Ken Banks has spent most part of the last decade in researching on how developing countries can use the power of mobile technology to their advantage. One of the products developed  is FrontlineSMS.

Actively pursuing my dream  is what led me to meeting my good friend Joel, with whom I hope to conquer the internet world.

Finally, please sign up for beta testing for a project I am working on with Joel, it is called OnePage.

Oo Nwoye. KCOB

If you liked or disliked this post, PLEASE share. Thank you.

48 thoughts on “Cleaning Nigeria's image on the Internet: The way forward.

  1. Another great post! Read your previous post about how you hope to save Facebook, but didn’t get a chance to comment. I’ll definitely comment via a blog post on Startups Nigeria later.

    You did say it all here, but permit me to add this: Nigerian newspapers should also have a section dedicated to profiling and reviewing technology startup companies as well as trends in the social media and web 2.0 space.

    This should get the attention of company execs who could perhaps toy with the idea of funding some of these startups as well as adopting these tools and technologies for their businesses.

    By the way, thanks for the mention.

  2. Another great post! Read your previous post about how you hope to save Facebook, but didn’t get a chance to comment. I’ll definitely comment via a blog post on Startups Nigeria later.

    You did say it all here, but permit me to add this: Nigerian newspapers should also have a section dedicated to profiling and reviewing technology startup companies as well as trends in the social media and web 2.0 space.

    This should get the attention of company execs who could perhaps toy with the idea of funding some of these startups as well as adopting these tools and technologies for their businesses.

    By the way, thanks for the mention.

  3. Another great post! Read your previous post about how you hope to save Facebook, but didn’t get a chance to comment. I’ll definitely comment via a blog post on Startups Nigeria later.

    You did say it all here, but permit me to add this: Nigerian newspapers should also have a section dedicated to profiling and reviewing technology startup companies as well as trends in the social media and web 2.0 space.

    This should get the attention of company execs who could perhaps toy with the idea of funding some of these startups as well as adopting these tools and technologies for their businesses.

    By the way, thanks for the mention.

  4. As much as I agree with some of your submissions. I’m a web person and I’ve had more than enough of these Yahoo Boys. Point number one; they are all greedy bastards. The psyche of a typical Yahoo boy is to make their money as quickly as possible. I agree with you that some of these scams are elaborate and take time to execute but if you look at how they spend the money, then you will understand what I’m talking about. Point number two; Social class; Yahoo boys have somehow been able to carve out a niche for themselves where they are hailed and celebrated as successful. So for the shallow minded amongst them, it is easy to be a successful thief than a fulfilled entrepreneur. I’m sorry to say and as hard as this may sound, they need some strong and serious deterrent before we can start talking reform. Is it the policeman that gets 10,000 for allowing the car to go or the efcc agent that is bribed with 200,000 that is going to stop them? If there was a minimum jail term of 5 years in addition to 60 strokes of cane I’m sure they would behave

  5. As much as I agree with some of your submissions. I’m a web person and I’ve had more than enough of these Yahoo Boys. Point number one; they are all greedy bastards. The psyche of a typical Yahoo boy is to make their money as quickly as possible. I agree with you that some of these scams are elaborate and take time to execute but if you look at how they spend the money, then you will understand what I’m talking about. Point number two; Social class; Yahoo boys have somehow been able to carve out a niche for themselves where they are hailed and celebrated as successful. So for the shallow minded amongst them, it is easy to be a successful thief than a fulfilled entrepreneur. I’m sorry to say and as hard as this may sound, they need some strong and serious deterrent before we can start talking reform. Is it the policeman that gets 10,000 for allowing the car to go or the efcc agent that is bribed with 200,000 that is going to stop them? If there was a minimum jail term of 5 years in addition to 60 strokes of cane I’m sure they would behave

  6. As much as I agree with some of your submissions. I’m a web person and I’ve had more than enough of these Yahoo Boys. Point number one; they are all greedy bastards. The psyche of a typical Yahoo boy is to make their money as quickly as possible. I agree with you that some of these scams are elaborate and take time to execute but if you look at how they spend the money, then you will understand what I’m talking about. Point number two; Social class; Yahoo boys have somehow been able to carve out a niche for themselves where they are hailed and celebrated as successful. So for the shallow minded amongst them, it is easy to be a successful thief than a fulfilled entrepreneur. I’m sorry to say and as hard as this may sound, they need some strong and serious deterrent before we can start talking reform. Is it the policeman that gets 10,000 for allowing the car to go or the efcc agent that is bribed with 200,000 that is going to stop them? If there was a minimum jail term of 5 years in addition to 60 strokes of cane I’m sure they would behave

  7. Well done! I wish many more people will join in this campaign. Just so you’ll know u r not alone. This is soemthing that was posted by a former colleague:

    Things have to change!
    I have tears in my eyes as I write….
    No, not tears of joy but tears of sadness.
    No, not blinding tears but tears that enable me to still ‘see’.
    Tears from my heart.

    Going through my sisters mail today I realised that one of her classmates was involved in the plane crash. A doctor, he did not survive.
    Only 2 nights ago, I realised that someone I knew when I ‘served’ in Sokoto state was also involved and lost his life leaving behind a wife and children.

    One is truly distant and aloof when you ‘think’ you do not know anyone on board. However, when news comes that someone you knew was on board your perspective changes.

    I had asked a friend of mine (who I believed would be objective enough) to go through my blog and tell me what he thinks.
    He said ” I have scanned through the entire blog….you write very well no doubt….but you need to put that writing well to very good and constructive use…the tone, theme and language of your writing conjures helplessness with Nigeria’s situation….you should have a strategy for why you write and to what intent and purpose….Do you want to market nigeria….or do you want to hue and cry about some of our “realities”….the question then becomes…”Quo vadis?”
    I believe what the country needs are marketers…Pr blogists for the country….ofcourse..we have issue…really serious issues…..i will say..dont take a position against the government or against the leaders….it has been the case since the 60s…where has it gotten…not very far…the truth..it just doesn’t work and takes nobody far….”

    I guess its no use just crying but making sure our tears are not blinding and do not leave you unreasonable and with an incapacitating headache.

    I agree with him. There’s no use just highlighting Nigeria’s problems but stating and acting out solutions to them. Our problems might seem complex and intractable but I firmly believe that the solutions might just be as simple as instructing that young child beside you in the bus who is about to throw out his biscuit wrapper out of the window not to but to wait and dispose of his waste properly (in a dustbin that is!).

    ps: A prayer for the families affected by the air crashes in the last few weeks. May God grant your hearts peace and solace in Him who comforts alone! And may these deaths waken us (Nigerians) out of our slumber and cause us to insist that things be done the right way in our country.

  8. Well done! I wish many more people will join in this campaign. Just so you’ll know u r not alone. This is soemthing that was posted by a former colleague:

    Things have to change!
    I have tears in my eyes as I write….
    No, not tears of joy but tears of sadness.
    No, not blinding tears but tears that enable me to still ‘see’.
    Tears from my heart.

    Going through my sisters mail today I realised that one of her classmates was involved in the plane crash. A doctor, he did not survive.
    Only 2 nights ago, I realised that someone I knew when I ‘served’ in Sokoto state was also involved and lost his life leaving behind a wife and children.

    One is truly distant and aloof when you ‘think’ you do not know anyone on board. However, when news comes that someone you knew was on board your perspective changes.

    I had asked a friend of mine (who I believed would be objective enough) to go through my blog and tell me what he thinks.
    He said ” I have scanned through the entire blog….you write very well no doubt….but you need to put that writing well to very good and constructive use…the tone, theme and language of your writing conjures helplessness with Nigeria’s situation….you should have a strategy for why you write and to what intent and purpose….Do you want to market nigeria….or do you want to hue and cry about some of our “realities”….the question then becomes…”Quo vadis?”
    I believe what the country needs are marketers…Pr blogists for the country….ofcourse..we have issue…really serious issues…..i will say..dont take a position against the government or against the leaders….it has been the case since the 60s…where has it gotten…not very far…the truth..it just doesn’t work and takes nobody far….”

    I guess its no use just crying but making sure our tears are not blinding and do not leave you unreasonable and with an incapacitating headache.

    I agree with him. There’s no use just highlighting Nigeria’s problems but stating and acting out solutions to them. Our problems might seem complex and intractable but I firmly believe that the solutions might just be as simple as instructing that young child beside you in the bus who is about to throw out his biscuit wrapper out of the window not to but to wait and dispose of his waste properly (in a dustbin that is!).

    ps: A prayer for the families affected by the air crashes in the last few weeks. May God grant your hearts peace and solace in Him who comforts alone! And may these deaths waken us (Nigerians) out of our slumber and cause us to insist that things be done the right way in our country.

  9. Well done! I wish many more people will join in this campaign. Just so you’ll know u r not alone. This is soemthing that was posted by a former colleague:

    Things have to change!
    I have tears in my eyes as I write….
    No, not tears of joy but tears of sadness.
    No, not blinding tears but tears that enable me to still ‘see’.
    Tears from my heart.

    Going through my sisters mail today I realised that one of her classmates was involved in the plane crash. A doctor, he did not survive.
    Only 2 nights ago, I realised that someone I knew when I ‘served’ in Sokoto state was also involved and lost his life leaving behind a wife and children.

    One is truly distant and aloof when you ‘think’ you do not know anyone on board. However, when news comes that someone you knew was on board your perspective changes.

    I had asked a friend of mine (who I believed would be objective enough) to go through my blog and tell me what he thinks.
    He said ” I have scanned through the entire blog….you write very well no doubt….but you need to put that writing well to very good and constructive use…the tone, theme and language of your writing conjures helplessness with Nigeria’s situation….you should have a strategy for why you write and to what intent and purpose….Do you want to market nigeria….or do you want to hue and cry about some of our “realities”….the question then becomes…”Quo vadis?”
    I believe what the country needs are marketers…Pr blogists for the country….ofcourse..we have issue…really serious issues…..i will say..dont take a position against the government or against the leaders….it has been the case since the 60s…where has it gotten…not very far…the truth..it just doesn’t work and takes nobody far….”

    I guess its no use just crying but making sure our tears are not blinding and do not leave you unreasonable and with an incapacitating headache.

    I agree with him. There’s no use just highlighting Nigeria’s problems but stating and acting out solutions to them. Our problems might seem complex and intractable but I firmly believe that the solutions might just be as simple as instructing that young child beside you in the bus who is about to throw out his biscuit wrapper out of the window not to but to wait and dispose of his waste properly (in a dustbin that is!).

    ps: A prayer for the families affected by the air crashes in the last few weeks. May God grant your hearts peace and solace in Him who comforts alone! And may these deaths waken us (Nigerians) out of our slumber and cause us to insist that things be done the right way in our country.

  10. Thank to signing up to Onepage. We all have to start from somewhere.

    @ Nnanna: I am looking for a way to aggregate all the things Nigerians are doing online.

  11. Thank to signing up to Onepage. We all have to start from somewhere.

    @ Nnanna: I am looking for a way to aggregate all the things Nigerians are doing online.

  12. Thank to signing up to Onepage. We all have to start from somewhere.

    @ Nnanna: I am looking for a way to aggregate all the things Nigerians are doing online.

  13. OO, Thanks for this immensely brilliant essay. You can see why all our best laid plans need sound leadership to be fulfilled.

    How can we have analogue leaders in a digital age? More importantly,how can we get the Change We Long For if we don’t stop agonizing and start organizing? Nobody but us can will do it-otherwise, we will continue to be a land where dreams die quick.

    You are immensely popular on the web and know your way around it. As you look to get up these startup companies, I am also challenging you to show us how we can use the power of the net to begin the process of change. Rather than the top down approach which worked to chase away the military, how can we use the internet to channel our collective frustrations into a groundswell for change- for real democracy so that we can start attracting our best brains into leadership positions?
    Think about the endless possiblities if we get people like you into the communication policy apparatus.Imagine having round pegs in round holes for our nation. You might say it is not our concern for now, but think about it-one change of government policy can ruin all you are doing!

    Do not think that people are not willing to follow you. My challenge to you and others in the internet business is: provide us with a technological platform for the soon coming battle for the soul of Nigeria- so that we can also grow it. Then it will be possible to begin the clean up process, not just on the web but in every sphere of our national life. With technology as you have described it, the chasm between our know-how and our knowledege of what to do will be closed and CHANGE will come to Nigeria!

  14. OO, Thanks for this immensely brilliant essay. You can see why all our best laid plans need sound leadership to be fulfilled.

    How can we have analogue leaders in a digital age? More importantly,how can we get the Change We Long For if we don’t stop agonizing and start organizing? Nobody but us can will do it-otherwise, we will continue to be a land where dreams die quick.

    You are immensely popular on the web and know your way around it. As you look to get up these startup companies, I am also challenging you to show us how we can use the power of the net to begin the process of change. Rather than the top down approach which worked to chase away the military, how can we use the internet to channel our collective frustrations into a groundswell for change- for real democracy so that we can start attracting our best brains into leadership positions?
    Think about the endless possiblities if we get people like you into the communication policy apparatus.Imagine having round pegs in round holes for our nation. You might say it is not our concern for now, but think about it-one change of government policy can ruin all you are doing!

    Do not think that people are not willing to follow you. My challenge to you and others in the internet business is: provide us with a technological platform for the soon coming battle for the soul of Nigeria- so that we can also grow it. Then it will be possible to begin the clean up process, not just on the web but in every sphere of our national life. With technology as you have described it, the chasm between our know-how and our knowledege of what to do will be closed and CHANGE will come to Nigeria!

  15. OO, Thanks for this immensely brilliant essay. You can see why all our best laid plans need sound leadership to be fulfilled.

    How can we have analogue leaders in a digital age? More importantly,how can we get the Change We Long For if we don’t stop agonizing and start organizing? Nobody but us can will do it-otherwise, we will continue to be a land where dreams die quick.

    You are immensely popular on the web and know your way around it. As you look to get up these startup companies, I am also challenging you to show us how we can use the power of the net to begin the process of change. Rather than the top down approach which worked to chase away the military, how can we use the internet to channel our collective frustrations into a groundswell for change- for real democracy so that we can start attracting our best brains into leadership positions?
    Think about the endless possiblities if we get people like you into the communication policy apparatus.Imagine having round pegs in round holes for our nation. You might say it is not our concern for now, but think about it-one change of government policy can ruin all you are doing!

    Do not think that people are not willing to follow you. My challenge to you and others in the internet business is: provide us with a technological platform for the soon coming battle for the soul of Nigeria- so that we can also grow it. Then it will be possible to begin the clean up process, not just on the web but in every sphere of our national life. With technology as you have described it, the chasm between our know-how and our knowledege of what to do will be closed and CHANGE will come to Nigeria!

  16. Nigeria is the most corupt country in the universe – the administration of umaru Yar'Adua uses the courts to protects former corrupt governors like Odili, Kalu Orji etc. from justice, the Senate and the house of Reps.

  17. Nigeria is the most corupt country in the universe – the administration of umaru Yar'Adua uses the courts to protects former corrupt governors like Odili, Kalu Orji etc. from justice, the Senate and the house of Reps.

  18. Facebook Guru is one of the best Facebook application development companies that also offer Facebook widgets, connect integration, Bebo apps and Friendster applications development services through expert and professional Facebook applications developers

  19. Facebook Guru is one of the best Facebook application development companies that also offer Facebook widgets, connect integration, Bebo apps and Friendster applications development services through expert and professional Facebook applications developers توبيكات

  20. Facebook Guru is one of the best Facebook application development companies that also offer Facebook widgets, connect integration, Bebo apps and Friendster applications development services through expert and professional Facebook applications developers توبيكات

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