Looking back to what life used to be for all of us before the GSM evolution in Nigeria; it gives one a clear understanding of the positive impact GSM has on Nigerians. The way we used to communicate and do business have changed tremendously, the life of the common people has also been touched in different ways, it cuts across every facet of life, which is why I feel delighted to talk about some of the gains of the industry though it is not yet ‘ohuru’.
Some of the blessings of mobile communication in Nigeria have been directly or indirectly on the populace, the corporate world, business world, and the society at large.
Job creation and employment is one of the good things that GSM brought to us, the sector is the highest sector that has employed both skilled and unskilled manpower in recent times. A great number of people especially the young graduates have been given employment in the GSM companies where they make a living and are useful to their families.
Apart from this direct employment, jobs have been created, where many people are self reliant doing their own GSM businesses, one of such business is making of calls and the sale of recharge cards to GSM users. This business is popularly known as business centers or call centers.
Looking around the cities, towns and even villages one will hardly walk about two poles without seeing a business center mainly characterized by the use of umbrellas, kiosks and even shops painted with the colors of the mobile service providers. It is easy to start because it requires little start up capital, in fact all you need is your umbrella as a shade, a stool, a table and your handset loaded with calling credit of any amount say #1000, and you have started. This has provided a means of livelihood for many people who would have been unemployed; some have also learnt the technical aspect of the business by repairing and fixing of mobile phones in their repair shops.
Sales of GSM phones and its accessories are big business, it is also very profitable here in Nigeria, and I consider it the biggest gain of this revolution. It has really provided affluence for many who are in the business big time. The return on investment is superb. Having the statistics that over 16 million handsets have been sold so far, 32.2 million mobile lines in Nigeria now, with the number of mobile lines increasing to 43 million within the first part of the year and a projection of about 76 million mobile lines come 2011, all these are indicators of how the market is and where it is going. Many people have actually tapped into this boom. This business is very lucrative. If you have ever visited the Computer Village, Ikeja, Lagos, You will understand the veracity of the statistics and research given above, the market is said to be the largest phone market in Africa.
The impact is also felt in the way businesses are being done these days, it has reduced the risk and cost of traveling long distances, since one can be in his house and actually attain to the business using his mobile phone. It has made all of us ubiquitous. Businesses are being done nowadays at the speed of thought like Bill Gates envisaged.
Cooperate Organizations like the banks for example; have integrated GSM technology into banking operations known as Mobile banking where a customer has full access to his or her account using the mobile phone or device. Examination bodies and educational institutions have also employed this technology too where candidates check their results on their mobile phones, the internet can also be accessed from the mobile phone and other value added services like picture messaging, music downloads etc,giving the users a beautiful experience.
Socially, we have benefited in the corporate social responsibility of the service providers and phone companies. Some have provided educational facilities, AIDS campaign awareness, ICT labs, Hospitals and sponsorship of several events, one of such events is the Globacom (one of the service providers in Nigeria) Premiership League where huge amount of money is set aside for the development of Nigeria football. Many individuals have also benefited from these companies by being their ambassadors.
Our social life has also being impacted on, relationships with friends, relatives and loved ones are kept alive through phones calls, I have personally benefited from the mid night free calls being offered by MTN, I have good time to talk to my friends and loved ones. I know you have actually benefited too, feel free to share your experiences on here.
More investors are showing interest in Nigeria because of the rapid increase and return on investments, with the recent issuing of 3G licenses to four telecoms companies, more benefits is on the way for GSM users in Nigeria.
Having pointed out some of the successes being recorded in the lives of the people, it is also pertinent to say that we expect quality service at a more reduced cost, good regulation in the sector and healthy competition that will bring the needed benefits for Nigeria and Nigerians, I do hope this happens soon.