I just tried Google’s Business Sitebuilder created for Get Nigerian Businesses Online (GNBO) initiative. Swift and easy to use. It even offers custom “com.ng” registration for just N1200 per year (about $7). Google hosts the sites free. I must say I like it!
Google’s strategy in Nigeria is primarily directed at getting people online, and creating and growing local content. This makes a lot of sense. At about 150 million, Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa, with the second largest economy after South Africa, and with at least 24 million Internet users (as of 2009), about 17% of the population. And of more than 1 million registered businesses in Nigeria, only 17,000 have presence online.
“Our strategy in Nigeria right now is really working around with stakeholders to build an online ecosystem, we are focused on three areas, the first is access and what we are really looking for is how do we get more Nigerians online, how do we remove the barriers to internet access, and so we are in conversations with service providers with regulators, with government agencies to know how we can get more users on line – Juliet Ehimuan, Nigeria Country Manager for Google.
It has not been rosy for the GNBO project; there are some dissenting voices already. Loy Okezie, a Nigerian blogger calls it “Net-Colonialism”, saying it is “capable of making it [Google] dominate Nigeria’s Internet ecosystem in years to com”. He also states the project “could kill web designing and web hosting entrepreneurship in Nigeria”.
Google’s free end-to-end website solution has some serious obstructions on its way though: Nigeria is plagued with slow Internet connection and erratic supply of electricity, conditions that would remain major hindrance to Nigerian businesses getting on the Internet in sizable numbers. I wonder if Juliet Ehimuan agrees or not.