She cited the social media presence of the Nigerian President and the recently celebrated entry into Twitter of Nigeria born billionaire, Aliko Dangote, as proofs that there is indeed an increased application of the internet in communication and business.
She noted that the internet transcends different industries and Nigerians cannot afford to ignore the powerful platform as it is already “shaping how we communicate and interact with people” including, especially, how business is done.
She however said that Nigeria had a long way to go in terms of catching up with the rest of the world. Admitting that the infrastructure is good enough in the country, she stressed that there was need for more applications with local relevance to be developed.
Analysing the massive impact that internet has made on Nigeria in the year 2013. She commended companies offering financial services and retail stores for having really made good use of it and being at the fore front of the boom in Nigeria.
She advised that more sectors like agriculture and education should take on the internet.
With Ebuka laying emphasis on the slow pace at which the internet technology is growing in the financial sector in comparison to the growth of Mobile Money in Kenya, a fellow African country, Johnson believed that agent network was one of the major challenges in Nigeria especially in the rural areas.
She said that people needed to find it attractive for them to be willing to embrace being agents for getting the products out to the public.
She challenged the government to develop policies that would guide how companies operate their different services.
She expressed her confidence in the Cashless Policy introduced by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido, stating that the impending retirement of the CBN Governor would not slow the system down. She said: “I don’t expect too much of a radical shift from what is happening now”.
She added that there were doubt about the policy initially “but we are more into it now and we are going to see it through” as long as issues like cost, accessibility, speed, and quality of internet are all addressed in the New Year, with a bulk of the responsibility at the feet of the telecom companies.
On the sustainability of e-commerce in Nigeria, Ms. Johnson said that she thinks Nigeria would experience more growth in 2014. She also expressed her eagerness to see more competition in the sector with more players coming into the business, rather than the talk about the likes of Jumia and Konga.com merging.
She, however, warned that getting people to be more comfortable doing business online is a key factor towards achieving the expected growth, emphasising the need to build a better level of trust for the available payment options.
Although she admitted that the current system whereby shoppers pay “cash on delivery” is a good idea, she insisted that tighter security measures would go a long way in building the trust, as well as improving digital literacy among Nigerians.
Ms. Johnson singled out popular online retail shops, Jumia and Konga.com as the strongest players in the sector, whose activities must be taken seriously. She added that the kind of investment behind them showed the level of seriousness of the owners and the level of belief that investors had in them. She reiterated: “They will be around for a while.”
When asked if online shopping would be a threat to regular retail shops, Ms Johnson stressed that majority of Nigerians’ buying are still open market oriented. She enthused: “I am not convinced that that will happen; they all have their space.”
She concluded by calling on Nigerians to come up with more creative ways to use the internet to help the education sector. According to her, Nigeria’s education sector is ripe enough to be able to come online, as the internet is an enabler that unlocks many values.
With the ASUU issues of 2013, e-learning would be a good alternative for Nigerian students, moving forward.