An easy, proven way to succeed is to have a look at those who have a lead on you to see what they are getting right. Nollywood (the Nigerian movie industry) and the Nigerian music industry are favourite whipping boys of more intellectually enlightened citizens. In truth, Naija music and videos leave a lot to be desired, BUT it is foolishness to dismiss them as having nothing to teach other sectors. Why?
Think about it: despite the everyday bashing that those two industries get, they are arguably Nigeria’s best export industries till date, if you ignore petroleum. They both thrive despite the horrible limitations of the environment.
So, what can Naija tech learn from Nollywood and Naija music? Here are my thoughts:
Grassroots Is Key
Keep in touch with the grassroots. Nigeria is still largely a grassroots country. Our huge population is only meaningful when you embrace the reality that 80% of that figure are more or less grassroots. Say what you will about Naija music and movies, but those two industries are very much in tune with the grassroots. Naija tech needs to create products that resonate with that segment of the population.
Spare Us The Innovation
Innovation isn’t always the answer. Many times, it is a stumbling block. Sometimes just find what works and replicate it. Replicate it with your signature. China, India, and Korea are all thriving today because they copied. Not a lot of innovation. Tons of copying. Copying is a valid way to grow. Innovation can be added to the mix later. Not many people will describe Nollywood or Nigeria music as innovative, yet they are two thriving industries and they sell massively in other countries.
Media! Media!! Media!!!
Lastly, Naija tech needs to grow, support and utilise vibrant media platforms. I remember how Naija music leveraged on FM radio in its early days. Remember Keke Ogungbe and Dee One and how they wouldn’t stop pushing our local music on air? On the Nollywood front, we can’t thank AfricaMagic enough for pushing Naija music everywhere. Naija tech needs vibrant media. Techpreneurs need to get their works and stories in the hands of the media. And when I say media, I do not mean tech media that only tech people read. That is counterproductive. We have to create tech media that everyone else enjoys reading.
What good would it be if only music industry people know about Tiwa Savage? Aha. Right now, we have many products and solutions in Naija tech that are known only to tech people. Mbanu. That won’t do. What if Naija music media only talk about music notes and scores and all the other technical stuff that only music professionals understand? Would you read them? Naija tech media needs to get out of the rut of talking in octa-core, valuations, round one seeds, and RAM. We are too busy massaging our own egos, masturbating to our own toys and ignoring the public.
All Put Together
The Nigerian tech industry is often too fixated on itself and on trying to be innovative. And the results so far have not been much to sing about. We need mass market products, not just products for the small elite segment of the country that the industry is currently obsessed with.
Tech enthusiasts are often thinking about the next cool thing and feeling funky within their own small tech circles. Naija tech needs to grow out of that stage and go mainstream. Smart business people will look for what the masses want and give it to them. As proven by Naija music and movies, that product doesn’t have to be great for starters. It doesn’t have to be innovative for starters. It does have to be something that the target market can relate to.
Naija music and movies are constantly the butt of jokes and snide remarks over the quality of their products, but note that the music and the movies have gotten better and better. Some of them are now world class quality productions. They hit the road running, copying and using what they had and have gotten better and better. Both industries fly the Nigerian flag high internationally today.
For all the hype and noise that we have witnessed in Naija tech in the last few years, it is not even scratching the surface yet. The industry has a whole lot of work to do. Let’s get it done.
from an article by Yomi ADEGBOYE of mobilityarena.com