Overcoming the challenges of doing online business in Nigeria

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Background

With the advent of the internet, the world has become interconnected by the creation of a whole new environment known as the virtual environment with high speed communication and convergence. This environment has eliminated the barriers to trade, commerce and social interaction which were previously hampered by distance and geographical boundaries. Today we speak of e-commerce, e-learning, e-government and the social media which have all transformed the face of interaction between global citizens. There are over five billion interconnected devices and an estimated eight trillion dollars’ ($8trn) worth of transactions in e-commerce. The internet has brought huge business opportunities to those who have access to it and is a key parameter for the development of a country today. The nature of the virtual environment is such that people can interact without getting to physically meet themselves. This is one major advantage of the internet. However, the anonymity that the internet offers could also be a breeding ground for people of easy virtues to commit crimes and defraud other users. This means that a lot of reliance is placed on the integrity of the person who is dealing on the virtual platform and it is important for every business person to bear this in mind.

The problem

Nigeria is heavily endowed with both human and natural resources and a huge market which makes it very attractive as a destination for business activities generally and online business in particular. However, there are some challenges that need to be surmounted by anyone who wants to carry out business activities in Nigeria online. One of such is the issue of cybercrime. Cybercrime can be described as offences that are committed with the aid of computer and networks and are mostly for financial benefit at the detriment of another. Cybercrime is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world today. Nigeria has been identified as one of the major ‘hotspots’ for cybercrime with an estimated economic cost of about two trillion naira (N2trn) to the nation in 2012. The absence of legislative and institutional structures compounds the situation as the law enforcement agents are ill-equipped to handle this lucrative technological hazard. So far no direct legislation exists on cyber-security in the country. The high incidence of cybercrime in Nigeria has resulted in negative profiling, branding and stigmatization of Nigeria and Nigerians globally thereby making it loose preference for online business activities. This is not to say that there is no honest business person who is reliable or can be trusted.

Recommendation

It is imperative for anyone who wants to venture into online business in Nigeria to work hard to earn personal credibility. This can be achieved by being professional, courteous, attentive to detail, time conscious, polite with a determination to uphold a high degree of integrity. The internet culture must be imbibed for optimal results and performance. This way, the online business person will be able to show that he/she is credible and serious minded. Perseverance is also a necessary attribute because in business generally, whether offline or online real-time, things may not always go as desired but the business person would need to continue diligently provided he/she is passionate about the product or service offered online. Another useful ingredient for running a successful online business in Nigeria is for the business person to conduct research and regularly update himself on vital issues related to his area of business. This way the business person can approach the online platform sufficiently armed with vital information that would enable him to navigate the waters of the virtual environment without getting drowned by the challenges.

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