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Thursday, February 24, 2005

Computer Village, still dreadful!

Features of the week:

Daily ugly tale of woes by Nigerians of their experiences at the Computer Village, Ikeja, is now a stigma the Computer and Allied Products Dealers Association of Nigeria (CAPDAN) should tackle. Reports REMMY NWEKE.

COMPUTER Village, is a popular Information and Communications Technology (ICT) accessories’ market located at the heart of Ikeja, the capital of Lagos State.

From computer parts to photocopiers, compact discs (CDs), digital equipment such as cameras and removable disk or flash key otherwise known as Universal Serial Bus (USB) to software, are on sell daily at this market.

But incidentally the bad name the market has ascribed to itself was basically due to vices relating to fake products, offering used products for new ones, for several years now.

With the advent of the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM), the accessories have since flooded the Computer Village, through grey market supplies.

Just recently, the management of Intel Corporation, under its South African office staged what was described as ‘digital street fair’ to herald its entrance into the nation’s market.

Intel, a leading manufacturer of microchips and processors, both of which have come to be known as indispensable among other aspects of computing globally.

This was in the assumption of the positive impact being recorded by the nation in the ICT sector in over three years.

The fair was seen as a stimulus for the nation’s Personal Computing industry and in recognition of the import of Nigeria and the Otigba Computer Village, to be precise in the African sub-Saharan specialised market.

Speaking at the occasion, representatives of the Computer Village, under the aegis of Computer and Allied Products Dealers Association of Nigeria (CAPDAN) and Managing Director of ITWorld, Mr. Obinna Obienu, noted that the market has grown from 1,500 businesses by over 100 per cent.

He expressed hope his association members would like to collaborate with Intel among other corporate organisations and government at all levels in developing the market to an enviable standard.

And in efforts to standardize its activities, CAPDAN last December made a public show, following the inauguration of its new executive members in Lagos.

At the occasion, President of the association, Mr. Ibrahim Olatunji Balogun, said CAPDAN, has consolidated its front line position as the nation’s leading market and destination of choice for home users and business to meet their computers and allied products and services’ need.

According to him, CAPDAN, is poised to drive the overall national vision of promoting information technology growth for national development through the supply of relevant computers, software and allied products and services to achieve these objectives.

Mr. Balogun, called on government to complement the vision of the association through enabling incentives policies and patronage, which will boost local content in the technology market.

CAPDAN president, also solicited for a zero duty on computers and allied components to complement the efforts of local system builders and make them affordable.

He stated that CAPDAN is committed to the eradication of software piracy and various form of intellectual property rights infringements within the market.

“We have taken these initiatives to restore confidence and promote international best business practices in all aspects of our market. We also hope to ensure equitable return to all stakeholders involved in innovating for the growth and sustainable development of the technology sector in Nigeria,” he added.

Above all these, there seem to be a stigma hanging over the computer village. This has to do with frequency of theft in shops and along the streets within the village.

One of the incidents was the lost of a camera phone, Samsung SGH E700, in a shop called ChuksPee by a customer whose name incidentally was Chuks, who had visited the shop to buy a digital camera among other digital accessories.

According to Chuks, he was in the shop on recommendation of a professional friend and has finished bargaining when he received a call from his wife, and in a haste to pay since he was in a shop, left his phone on the canter to bring out money from his pocket.

“After that I continued to remove the money from my pocket to pay, when I was directed to go to a pigeon hole for the cashier, hence I left my phone with the products bought on top of the canter, but on completing payment, I discovered that a lady who attended to me has taken the products down the other side of the canter but claimed she did not touch my phone as it was no where to be find. Though she agreed seeing me using it, few minutes ago,” he complained.

Funny enough, when he requested for a phone to call the number, he was taken aback as no one in that shop, about five in number, accepted having credit on their phones, including their madam or even their landline.

As Chuks was lamenting his ordeal, just outside the shop, Olujide Aremu, another Lagosian, was at one side of number 10 Adepele Street, counting his losses; having visited the market also penultimate Monday.

For Olujide, he bought two software CDs – Adobe Photoshop 7.0 and PageMaker 7.0, for the tune of N500 each and discovered later that none was working, and on returning to the spot Tuesday, only to discover the seller has shifted position, while the new person does not know anything about the purchases or the former person occupying the spot.

The stories of Messrs Chuks and Olajide represent daily occurrence at the village and thus heightens the notoriety of the market for stealing and pirated products, even being heaven for stolen ICT accessories.

Though this seems to be a stigma but there must be a way out of the woods, through restoring sanity in the market by ensuring that touts and their acompliance shop-owners are eradicated from the market.

To a very large extent, it looks as if anybody who ventures into the computer village for patronage must have a sad tale to tell.

And as such, it does not show that the current executive members of CAPDAN and the Nigerian Police are doing enough in making the Computer Village part of the global village at this era by ensuring it is less dreadful for ordinary citizen to visit and patronise without any atom of molestation, let alone foreigners.