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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Good location matters in cyber cafe business – Expert

Nigerians interested in venturing into the cyber cafe business have been advised to ensure they set up their cafes at good locations, because it would determine the level of patronage and cost of maintenance to follow.

Expert in Cyber cafe and chief technical officer of an Internet Service Provider (ISP), Amsco Telecoms, Mr. Okechukwu Kalu, gave this piece of advice at a one-day workshop on Cyber café survival in Lagos, while dwelling on “Bandwidth considerations: cost effectiveness versus performance value.”

According to him, for any business to thrive, there is a need for thorough research before it could be set up.

He said, for instance, that location of a cyber café would determine the kind of customers to expected, stressing that if a café is set up in a fairly poor area, tendency is that customers could be new Internet users, therefore would attract regular maintenance of hardware especially the keyboard and mouse would be high while patronage could be in good numbers.

But if it was to be in enlightened vicinity such as Ikoyi or Victoria Island, the level of patronage could be less while cost of maintenance would be very low.

“There are locations where you have to change your keyboard and mouse every three months and there are places where you have just to change the same every 3 years,” he declared.

Where the operator has to change keyboard and mouse every three months depicts an emerging market, which, he said, requires lots of patience and understanding of the terrain.

While that of changing mouse and keyboard after one year or more showed that the residents have got cyber café etiquettes.

He noted that high volume of clients to a café at a given location does not immediately translate to profit and warned café operators of thinking in that line.

As said by him, it is very dangerous to think like that because there is other operational cost to factor into scheme of setting up a cyber café.

Some of these, he said, are office space and the model of computers deployed for the business.

He out rightly warned against deployment of second hand computers otherwise known as Tokunbo for cyber café business.

“The computer systems you use would also contribute to the success,” he asserted, advising that interested café operators should go for new ones, even as you cannot compare a new system and a used computer values.

This way, he said, they would also ensure that their computers are well equipped with relevant licensed software to make certain the business is a success through getting Operating System that is licensed, even as they could make use of Thin Client or Linux.

Mr. Kalu went on to say that potential café operators should read warrantee of any product they are buying carefully to ensure they understand every aspect of the deployment.

For him, Flat screen monitor is the best especially in this kind of Nigerian environment where power is an issue, saying that it helps to save power consumption.

Generating set, he said, should equally be factored into needs for deployment, whereas the choice of ISPs could make or mar the business.

He explained that if a café operator is being served by an ISP located in Lekki, for instance, while café is in Okota, there are in two different world of location, stressing that if there is an issue by the time the café operator gets to the service provider, a full day is gone.

Customer care services in the country, particularly in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is not the best yet, so he advised café operator who have an issue to simply work down to their ISPs, because that could be more faster than a telephone call and waiting indefinitely for the response team to come.

“Therefore, it is necessary to get an ISP that is nearer to your location of business,” he said.

In addition, he enjoined café operators to be honest in their dealings, although he noted there is no certification for honesty, but they should ensure they pay all levies by the authorities to avoid having to shot down the office.

Equally speaking, the ATCON executive secretary, Mr. Godwin Morgan, who represented the President commended the participants and urged Nigerians to embrace best practices in business transactions, even as the workshop planned to be an annual session would be adequately publicised in the future.

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