No, I’m not the average Nigerian with a blind / misguided belief that Nigeria is a great country when it comes to Information Technology. Nope, we are not! And if drastic steps are not taken, we wont get anywhere.
While several industries in the country have put modern technology to good use, the software industry is lagging far behind. I remember vividly when I first heard of StartupsNigeria, I thought: “Cool. We have out own TechCrunch!”. I felt this would encourage the creation of innovative startups in the Nigerian IT sector, and as well help showcase what we can build to the world.
But alas, the reverse is the case. Seemingly pointless services come up like every moment. I know the word pointless is far fetched but what do you say when everyone is trying to become the next Nairaland or the next Facebook. The ‘pointless’ part comes in when you realize that these so called aspiring entrepreneurs have nothing in the works to distinguish them from whoever they are trying to compete with. We see social networks based on open source scripts, forums built on existing platforms.
Why the heck would someone want to build the next big forum anyway? It hardly makes any business sense. Yet, we see so called technology bloggers making noise about these products and hyping them beyond what they really are. A good example of this is turenchi.com. Its supposed to be a service that aggregates Nigerian news articles from various publishers. Looking at its entry on StartupsNigeria, I must say I’m disappointed that such a ‘not-ready-for-alpha-test’ service is talked about like its the next Google News killer. Wow.
Ok, maybe I’m being too harsh. Let’s take a look at turenchi. The site’s layout just doesn’t do it justice. Apart from that, the service has little or no features. I’d rather subscribe to keyword-filtered Google News alert than subject my eyes to such boringness. No social features like those available on Topix, no commenting system, no nothing! Just plain news. I believe these are points Loy should have addressed in his post, rather than all the praise he showered.
I bet if we look Nigerian entrepreneurs in the eye and honestly tell them how we feel about their products, we’ll be doing each other a lot of good. One other thing I’ve noticed is the fact that when you tell someone his/her product isn’t up to standard, they prefer to ask you what you have done. That’s plain wrong. We need to posses that hunger to be better. We need to listen to people around us. We need to be innovative and not just lift scripts we cant extend or even maintain. We need to study other companies out there and find out what makes them tick. We need to develop a passion for what we are working on. We need to___ (wait a minute, I’m beginning to sound like a preacher. LOL).
The future of the Nigeria’s IT industry is in our hands.