Mobile telephone dealers in Port Harcourt have called for a large zone to create a computer village in the mode of the ‘Computer Village’ in Lagos. Those interviewed said the pockets of computer markets in the Garden City serving the south-south and oil region were a laughing stock when a well set-out computer market can outweigh the Lagos version.
The Computer Village in Lagos State is considered a successful market that, though unregulated, generates an income of over N366bn ($1.8 billion) annually, according to a report once published by the Lagos State Ministry of Communication Technology.
In addition, it is said to provide at least 50,000 jobs. Yet, computer, phone, accessory dealers and repairers in Port Harcourt believe a rising “Computer Village” in Port Harcourt can outweigh the feats of its Lagos counterparts.
In Port Harcourt, however, ‘One Voice Traders Association’ at Garrison is increasingly becoming a centre of attraction in Rivers State. With its activities akin to those at the Lagos State Computer Village, (sales of phones, flash drives, and other accessories; computer, and phone repairs among others), the market plays host to over 100 registered traders and countless unregistered middlemen, computer, and phone repairers.
“We are determined to do better than that (Lagos’ Computer Village) of Lagos. By God’s grace, we would do it,” said Exalted Anosike, the chairman of One Voice Traders Association.
However, Anosike and other traders in the market feel that for this to happen, the Rivers State government must offer support commensurate with that offered by the Lagos State government and create a level playing ground for the market to be seen as a place where safe and legitimate business is done.
He said: “We need a level playing ground and like I said before, we intend to do more than Lagos Computer Village. In this regard, the government over there (in Lagos) is doing better than what we have here. But with a little support we can do better.” He did not mention what Lagos State government is doing for the ones in Lagos.
Anosike, however, said the areas of support sought from the government include provision of security, as rampaging gun-wielding youths visit the market incessantly, loot and threaten operators. He wants provision of electricity around the market; and creation of opportunity for operators to access soft loans.
James Chukwu is the director of First Blessed JC Communication, a mobile phone accessories outfit at the market. He said the market holds the potentials to contribute meaningfully to the Rivers State government’s revenue if given the required attention, especially security wise.
“There are a lot of people we don’t need here. These are touts. These people come here to steal and do anything they like and go away. We want government to come in because this place can generate revenue for the government,” Chukwu said.
Ignatius Chukwu & Innocent Iwara, Port Harcourt