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The Growing Email Culture In Nigeria (Posted 19th Jan, 2001) Tell your friends about this page! Email it to them. 

About four years ago the ease of communication was disrupted in Nigeria, when the ministry of communication decided to streamline the provision of telephone services. Before then there existed scores of business centres, which sole business was letting out their telephones to willing users who could not afford to subscribe to telephone directly from Nigeria Telecommunications Limited, NITEL. The ministry discovered that many of the operators did not register their lines for business and this resulted in loss of revenue for NITEL. But because the "telephone booths" provided by the authorities were either not adequate or phone cards were out of the reach of most Nigerians, the step by the ministry cost a great problem for the people.

The implication is that it brought a setback to the telephone culture that had started to grow then. It, however, started to pick up when ironically touts took over the booths. They were renting phone cards out to people at N10.00 per unit. The poor Nigerians jumped at it because no sooner than NITEL started the phone card system than it abolished the 80-units card, which cost a little above N100.00 (The least became the 100-units card sold for N315.00. Even at that, NITEL cards are still cheaper than private operators’ phone cards. 

But while Nigerians were still adjusting NITEL slammed the hammer once again. It cancelled booths in most public places. The authorities wanted to curb the activities of touts. But in doing so, the people became even more deprived. 

That was the situation until around late 1999 when the e-mail culture caught on in the country. Now the business centres are back, and this time around with new service. Nigerians can now walk into business centres and send e-mail messages to anywhere in the world. In most urban centres now, there is a growing e-mail consciousness. This trend has given a boost to links between individuals for inter-personal relations and for business transactions, both locally and internationally.

What this means is an increase in business opportunities, not only for end users but also for those who run small out-fits that provide e-mail services. The e-mail service is the more popular type of Internet service in Nigeria. There are only a few cyber café operators in the country because setting up a cyber café is more capital intensive, when compared to the e-mail communication service. However the cost of setting up a cyber café is still within reach of most average Nigerians and foreign business people.

Although some outfits have started providing telephone services like in the past, but more people are drifting towards the Internet because of the gains in speed and cost. However there is no corresponding increase in the number of people who are computer literate. People simply take their messages to business centres where such messages are typed and sent on their behalf. So the percentage of people who can surf the Internet is still very quite minimal.

For  further information on setting up a cyber café, you may contact the Nigerian Communications Council.


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