“Computer Village is not an exact location. It is a warren of streets on which you find similar merchandise. Choked within a small area in-between Oremeji Street, Ola-Ayeni Street, Otigba Street, Olayi Tomori Street and Pepple Street, all that area is the famous Computer Village.”
Some places are more than a patch of sand. Some places have so many tales surrounding them. Computer Village, Otigba, Ikeja is one of such. One of the tales is that a Game Console bought there worked perfectly well at the Point of Purchase. The eager buyer went home, plugged it in and met a blank screen. Further investigation revealed that its core was filled with fufu. But it worked at point of purchase. Who wraps fufu in shiny plastic and passes it off as high-end electronics? Another tale is that you can get a shiny Mac Book Air at Computer Village for Five Thousand Naira only…ahem, if you know the right people, I mean. Trickery, cheap electronic appliances, magically revamped appliances-that is the lore of Computer Village as we know it.
Computer Village is not an exact location. It is a warren of streets on which you find similar merchandise. Choked within a small area in-between Oremeji Street, Ola-Ayeni Street, Otigba Street, Olayi Tomori Street and Pepple Street, all that area is the famous Computer Village. A living sea of humans flock to this IT Park everyday. There are no shops per se. You have open car boots, hucksters standing and flaunting their wares, people pinching and winking at you. Those are the stores. And what do they sell? Everything. I am serious, they sell everything there. Sometimes, I go there just for the shawarma or to buy T-shirts at four hundred naira each.
Computer Village might remain a residential area turned illegal market and still turning. It might never turn into the area for the next Technology Explosion. That is because it is not exclusively an Information Technology cluster. It is more commercial than innovative. Also, it is an all-comers affair. On some days, I am hard pressed to say which good proliferates the market; electronics, food or clothes. The fact that it is an unplanned market means it does not have the necessary infrastructure (electrical, parking space, building structure and arrangement) to meet the needs of the eight hundred stores it contains.
But I imagine, what if the companies that have opened sales outlets here (Samsung, Techno, Nokia, Brian, Micro Station, Slot, MizBeach) open Research and Development Centers too. Say these local brands get venture capital investment. What if the talents of Okey, who can repair ANYTHING is better harnessed. What if government supports rather than extorts these technology hobbyists. What if there is some order and the tariff on Completely Knocked Down (CKD) Information Communication Technology devices is scrapped. Say the marketers promote local brands. These are Encouraging Steps to building a self-sufficient indigenous local industry.
Then, and only then will we bring San Franciso to the streets of Pepple and Otigba, from the roundabout to the Police Station down to ‘Under Bridge’. Then and only then, will we have a Computer Revolution that leaves all who do not want to follow behind.
Tafa O. is a content specialist with Terragon.