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Key Dimensions that Will Drive Nigeria Online Marketplace Space in 2016- Masha



Lola Masha, the country manager OLX Nigeria

Lola Masha is the country manager, OLX Nigeria, the leading online classifieds player in the country. Masha joined OLX Nigeria in February 2014 with the goal of building a world-class, trusted and secured online classifieds business that stands out from its competition.
She holds PhD. in Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. Masha is an outstanding individual with expertise in business development, entrepreneurship, operational transformation, strategy and product development, across numerous industries including technology and consulting. 
‎She has significant international experience and has worked with brands like Google and McKinsey Consulting. In this interview with Peter Ugwu, she swiftly reviews e-commerce space in Nigeria in 2015 while discussing OLX’s ambition for growth in the market in the new year.‎

Assessment of the Online Marketplace in Nigeria in 2015‎
It has been an exciting and rollercoaster year. If I compare our successes to the challenges, I think it has been very successful. We started the year with a team of ten (10), but today, both the contract and fulltime staff we are close to 175 people.
So, we have grown tremendously in terms of staff strength. We also look at traffic to the website, we have grown to over 65% from January till date.
We have continued to get positive responses from the users on OLX platform. Because of this, we have made improvement in terms of awareness among the Nigerian online community.

Increased Partnerships‎
Our partnership over the year were fantastic. One thing we believe in at OLX is that we can’t do it alone. We have a culture of collaborations, partnerships and learnings.
So, we actually, actively, seek other organisations to work with; grow the brand and be able to contribute towards the industry’s growth here in Nigeria.
We have been very pleased with the results from our various partners and tend to do more in 2016 and moving forward.

Nigeria Online Marketplace Market Maturity‎
The Nigerian online market place has definitely improved, but still quite young. If I look at the percent of Nigerians currently using online classified, irrespective of platform, I think the percentage is still low and needs to improve.
As an industry, we still have a lot of work ahead of us, but we should be able to celebrate how far we have gone in educating the Nigerian users on how to trade safely and successfully on OLX.

Absolutely, competition has pushed us to be innovative to stay ahead of the game. When OLX started three years ago in Nigeria, the platform wasn’t the first (in the country), and we know how hard we had to work to get to the number one position; if possible to overtake the current players.
So, constantly, we are on our toes, innovative and definitely not relaxing in anyway. We are confident that with the team, ideas and products we have we are positioned to meet the demands of our users and succeed in Nigeria.

Winning and Maintaining Users’ Confidence‎
It has been very positive, been the response rate from OLX users. If I think about the reactions we have been getting this year versus last year, frankly, it has been 360 degrees turn around.
We have to do that again by focusing on trust and safety. We are doing everything possible to keep the site safe for the Nigerian people, prioritizing those elements that are peculiar to us.

OLX’s View About The market‎
We are positioned for success. We are long term investors, not for quick wins. We are here to play, stay and win.‎

E-Commerce Platforms and Cybersecurity‎
During the year, OLX in collaboration with MOMO and other stakeholders’ oraganised a session where issues on e-commerce space in Nigeria and the cyber related security issues were extensively discussed.
Part of the event was to showcase some of the technology and human elements we have deployed to protect our users on the website, including physical verifications. We have close to 160 people in field in Lagos, who physically verify items.
That has worked very successfully. We have changed the OLX platform; it looks very different now. During the process of changing the platform, we integrated some security apparatuses that allow us to dictate fraud related postings.

Corporate Social Responsibility‎
We engaged in some CSR programmes during the year and they are now not a sort of one-off thing. CSR is a continuous activity for us.
We engaged in OLX-Gives-Back campaign to support the School for the Blind and other charitable organisations.
This December, we supported a campaign called ‘Fit Yaba’ and the idea was to race consciousness around health and reducing illnesses. We supported the organization in collaboration with the Co-Creation (CC-Hub) and others.

Predictions for 2016‎
We expect to have our best year ever in the country in 2016. Every year has been interesting and exciting, and we have learnt a lot, but believe 2016 is our year of new growths, developments, and more successes.
On general perspective, there are three different dimensions to consider. First, change of perception around trust and safety of the classified e-commerce model. Secondly, there will be more players in the field, which will help to educate users, so that an average Nigerian will be educated on how to trade safely. We also expect growth to happen in a very big way. Once users are aware on how to simply use OLX, we expect the adoption to increase.
We have seen this trend in verity of technology platforms. When the mobile phone was introduced in Nigeria, it was from a very small base.
The Phones, SIM cards were very expensive, but currently, we have about 155 million mobile subscribers. That is phenomenal growth and due to the power of perception.
Once Nigerians understand how technology works, see the real value and how it impacts their lives, Nigerians are fast adapters. We expect the same with online classified ad as well. We have seen this happen with the messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook. The rate at which they have grown and successful in Nigeria, again, speaks to the fact that once a products creates value, Nigerians will definitely come on board.
I must say that 2015 has been a great and fantastic year. We appreciate our numerous users for their continuous support and feedbacks and we look forward to a more exciting year in 2016

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 CSO Sends FoI Request To NCC



Following the alleged plans to block online news sites, the Paradigm Initiative has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Nigerian Communications Commission asking the Commission to provide it with information on the matter.

The request was filed by the digital rights advocacy organisation on Friday at the Abuja headquarters of the Commission, giving the Commission seven (7) days as stipulated by the Freedom Of Information (FOI) Act 2011, to release information on the alleged attempts to block domain names of online newspapers.

It would be recalled that the Nigerian Tribune exclusively reported on Sunday, October 5 2017 “that the government, through the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), has engaged the services of a firm in Lagos to block the domain names of “several identified websites threatening national security.”

The newspaper further alleged that Commission wrote a memo to the firm, directing it “to immediately take steps to restrict access within the Nigerian cyberspace in respect of 21 (twenty one) additional websites by blocking the domain names. (The list of websites is attached).”

According to Adeboye Adegoke, Paradigm Initiative’s Program Manager, “the phrase “additional websites” in the memo indicates that there are other websites already marked for illegal censorship through an equally illegal blockage of their domain names. If this is true, then this would be a clear indication of this government’s anti-free speech agenda”

“It has been six days since Tribune published its story and NCC has not come out to deny the story. This is why we have filed this FoI request. NCC cannot wish this report away; the commission has to come out and address Nigerians on the issue”

In the FoI request, Paradigm Initiative asks NCC to provide it with answers to the following questions: Is the Nigeria Communications Commission or at of its agents in the process of taking steps or block or restrict the domain names of certain websites? If yes, what websites would be affected? What criteria were employed in selecting these websites? Under what legal provision is this being carried out?

According to Tope Ogundipe, Paradigm Initiative’s Director of Programs, “it goes without saying that blocking the domain names of newspapers is a brazen violation of the right to Freedom of Expression as guaranteed not only by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria but also by international instruments to which Nigeria is a signatory.”

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Web4Africa Celebrating 15 Years of Operations In Africa



By peter oluka

Web4Africa, the Pan African Web Hosting Company, has reached a milestone this October, celebrating 15 crystal years of business.

The company, offering web services physically from Nigeria, has grown from the dreams of the founders, serving 40,000+ clients across over 120 countries.

Today, the giant strides of Web4Africa is felt across the region with the peculiar nature of customer-centric services to hundreds of domain types as well as hosting solutions from four datacentres across Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa.

Established in 2002, Web4Africa is one out of the only two ICANN Accredited Domain Name Registrars in Nigeria and boasts of young- professional team (average age of 28) who are skilled and motivated deliver a happy experience to the clients.

“It gives me great pleasure in joining Web4Africa employees, clients and host of business partners South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana; in fact, across the Continent, in celebrating the company’s 15th anniversary. We have come a long way since commencing operations in 2002 and are very excited about our future as the company continues to thrive in these difficult economic times,” said Oluniyi Ajao, the President and CEO, when discussing the celebration.

Web4Africa’s ability to engineer solutions based on customer’s specific needs has helped the company to continually grow over the past 15 years. For instance, the Company is among the few that accepts Bitcoin, Perfect Money, Skrill, Payza, and more for Domain Registration, Web Hosting, VPS Hosting, Dedicated Servers.

“Our strongest area has always been the mass market. It so happens that to cover that large number of people, our price has to be reasonable. We make our pricing to be within reasonable range to attract the right people”, Mr. Ajao said, while speaking on 25% discount offering to customers as part of packages to mark anniversary.

Clients’ fondness for Web4Africa’s is not far-fetched, but due to its affordability and cost-effective carrier-neutral environment; local cloud hosting (in Nigeria), offers promise for future growth and 100% uptime.

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Sunday Dare honored with Democracy Heroes Award



Organisers of Face of Democracy Nigeria Award (FDN) on Sunday night honored Mr. Sunday Dare, Executive Commissioner Stakeholder Management, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), with Democracy Heroes Award for his decades of consistency in promoting democracy in Nigeria.

Face of Democracy Nigeria (FDN), now in its fifth year said Mr. Dare has acted in manners worthy of emulation by Nigerian youths.

Therefore, they urged young people to step out to participate in the democratic process by contesting elections in order to represent the people of Nigeria conscientiously.

The FDN team leaders, Olufunsho Ajagbonna and Vivian Lam were emphatic that all the awardees were honoured to enable young people to draw inspiration from their courage, consistency and selflessness.

The event, which was over-subscribed, held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel and ended past midnight, featured series of dances and other artistic displays representing the diversity of Nigeria.

Among those who received awards at the event last night were former Governor of Kano State and serving Senator, Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso; Senator Gbenga Ashafa, APC Lagos; Actor-turned-politician, Hon. Desmond Elliot; Chief Dele Momodu, Publisher of OVATION Magazine; and.Dr. Chimaobi Anyaso, an entrepreneur with investment in oil & gas and financing among others.

Prior to his appointment as an Executive Commissioner in NCC, Mr. Dare – a multimedia journalist, author, social entrepreneur and development enthusiast – was the Convener of the Social Media Clinic, a media/ICT initiative focused on educating the citizens about ICT utilisation.

Earlier, Dare had a beautiful career at the Independent Network Communications Limited, publishers of TheNEWS, Tempo, AM and PM News, one of the leading media outfits in Nigeria that deployed its professional resources to challenge the callous authoritarianism of the Military regimes of the 80s and early 90s in Nigeria.

For 8 years, he was the Chief, Hausa Service, African Division of VOICE OF AMERICA in Washington.

In 2010, Mr. Dare was listed as one of the 50 successful Nigeria professionals in America.

He had also recently combined the role of Special Media Adviser as well as Chief of Staff to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Emeritus Governor of Lagos State and APC National Leader.

In this regard, his work was central to the victory of the Party in the 2015 elections.

The FDN team is of the opinion that Mr. Dare’s almost three decades of journalism, advocacy, strategic political thinking and impeccable managerial skills has set him “apart as an emergent leader in Nigeria today”.

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