Nigerian technology bloggers: A search for relevance

Image credits: Seyi Taylor

For the record, I’m not a tech blogger, or any sort of classified blogger for that matter. However, yesterday, I inadvertently got mixed up in a conversation revolving around a Nigerian tech blogger who felt more than a little insulted by being excluded from the CNN list of Africa’s leading tech voices on Twitter. I won’t go into the details of the story, but my imperfect take on the matter follows below.

As the biggest market in Africa, depending which indexes you believe, we Nigerians tend to assume leadership of almost any issue on discussion across the continent. We are a nation with a big population and even bigger potential to do great things (whether we do go on to do great things is a matter for another day). We love the fact that we’re the largest internet market in Africa, and that our mobile telephone market is the largest on the continent, as well as one of the fastest growing in the world.

Make no mistake, bragging rights is great stuff, and is great for innovation in my opinion, but the rights to the stuff that matter in the telecoms industry is one we have not got a firm handle on.

The leadership of Nigeria in the telecoms market notwithstanding, Nigeria is NOT the leading country in terms of technology innovation and emerging technology startups. The size of Nigeria’s telecoms market is based on the sheer purchasing power of its 160 million population, and this doesn’t translate into leadership in innovation in the spinoff startupshpere which is associated with other emerging telecoms markets around the world .

So in other words, as concerns the matter of technology and innovation, we’ve not arrived yet. This is not saying we’ve “carried last”, but we definitely aren’t top of the pile.

So how does this relate to tech bloggers and relevance? Simple: if we’re not the biggest technology market in Africa, it’s likely that the leading ideas people, or thinkers and influencers may not be from our shores, notwithstanding what we may think of ourselves.

Honestly speaking, I have tried but failed to remember when a Nigerian technology blog delivered really hot industry news to me, long before anyone else knew. My thoughts on whether this is because the average tech news day in Nigeria is slow, or that I’m generally cynical depends on my daily mood, but I’ll just say it comes down to “e no dey, e no dey”. So how is a technology blogger relevant if all I get is old, rehashed news that I’ve already heard, read, digested and moved on from? How do I respect a ‘top’ tech blog which does not have any unique insights on emerging tech events? How relevant is a technology blog, whose enduring  claim to fame is the founder’s oversized sense of entitlement?

On the question of relevance in itself, I would like to think of the relevant blogger or “Twitter voice” as the guy who always has the scoop in his area of expertise. Say, if I want information on what’s going on in Kano and the general Nigerian North, I would most likely check up @dawisu. General info on politics? That’s @eggheader. Am I worried that this new tax code looks funny? That’s a discussion I’ll be taking up with @doubleph. And then there’s @toluogunlesi who’s mouth (or handle) is in everything, and @tejucole who’s likely to reduce the mundane details of our daily existence into “small fates.” That’s relevance to ME!

Two days ago, one of Nigeria’s top three telecoms brands was launching their “3.75G” network in Lagos and I waited to see the news break on Nigerian tech blogs or on Twitter. Nothing happened. My honest expectation was that there would be leaks in the blogoshpere about the impending launch, and leading tech bloggers would be at the event to cover it, but that did not happen – at least as far as I could see. So if a ‘major’ industry is happening and Nigerian tech bloggers aren’t covering or reporting it, what exactly are they supposed to do? Peel news from TechCrunch?

Relevance is when the industry respects and recognizes not only your existence, but your importance. If you have not been given priority pass to an industry event (not conferences, but A brand events, launches and briefings), if you’re not quoted by industry leaders as first rate authority, if the people who REALLY matter do not contact you for information, then just maybe there’s some ways to go towards being as relevant as we would like to think we are.

So if our bloggers feel a need to lay entitlement claims at the doorsteps of international media organizations (who, by the way, are not the leading voices in technology), isn’t it a basic requirement that they at least be relevant? If a Nigerian (read Naija) blogger is really badass, and gets snubbed by international press, I’m sure the Nigerian people will defend their own (not that we need validation form outside to prove our worth). But until our bloggers arrive, make we humble small.


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#TeamAnakle Developer: business and code. Nigerian - Personal views

12 thoughts on “Nigerian technology bloggers: A search for relevance”

  1. Very good points. Can’t fault anything you’re saying here at all. There’s a lot of stuff that goes on in our minuscule tech scene that gets unreported – telco launches, brick-and-mortar businesses going online (think Laterna, Debonairs etc.), training programmes or actual numbers on businesses that got funding. I think we also lack an analysis of our real issues and ideas on how to solve them. What about Lagos Innovation, an initiative of the Lagos State government to identify innovation clusters (including tech)? I guess we all have a lot of work to do.

  2. Valid points. We are sure working on a ‘working’ model on how to best get local tech news and place on these portal. Sooner or Later we’d get there. Thanks for the wake up call though. Cheers

  3. Relevance in what context? Now, there are varied Niches in Technology Blogging, whether you expect a #startup focused blogger to break news on Telecomm to prove relevance, then your search will be endless. Authority in the blogosphere simply rests on number of followership and engagements. Many Nigerian Tech bloggers have distinguished themselves even to the point of winning international acclaims. Then, what calls for the question of relevance?

  4. I thin you might have scored a couple of own goals here in assuming that Nigerian tech blogs are only read in Nigeria or are only relevant to a Nigerian audience.

    Also, you’re possibly confusing the fact that ‘tech’ itself is becoming irrelevant, rather than “tech blogging” which frankly is a contrived concept anyway.

    Are we not seeing convergence space between mobile, development, content, distribution, cloud, consumers, globalisation, localisation, devices and channels – this idea you’re suggesting that there is ‘tech’ and ‘tech blogging’ fails to see the big picture of what is going on in Nigeria and Africa and the world i.e. lots of rapid developments in a huge range of overlapping spheres.

    I don’t think anyone who is interested in reality of trends in this whole space can be that interested in just ‘tech’.

    So the idea that ‘tech’ can be relevant is really a very myopic view of the Nigerian market.

    Also, you’re conveniently overlooking the plain old fact that repeat audience month after month on these blogs = relevance.

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