Intel sees Nigeria's potential

Intel Corp. says it kicked off its Turbo Nigeria initiative recently, with the Intel Computer Street Faire and Intel Digital Party held in Lagos. The initiative, Intel says, forms part of Intel SA's expansion into emerging ICT markets in sub-Saharan Africa.

Says Sam Mensah, Intel's business development manager for sub-Saharan Africa: "Nigeria has been identified as having huge growth potential for Intel, and will serve as the hub for our activities in the West Africa region." The company says Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation, with more than 120 million people, 6 million of which are considered high-income earners, and an additional 60 million in the middle-income bracket. It believes that the country has the fastest growing mobile telecommunications market in the world, an adult literacy rate of 65 percent, and a political environment that has rapidly stabilized to make it more conducive to investment.

Mensah says that, in order to ensure that the company was able to make an impression on local resellers and ICT professionals, Intel decided to approach the launch in a different way. "Both the Intel Computer Street Faire, which was aimed at resellers, and Intel Digital Party, which focused on the corporate and public sector markets, proved to be firsts for the African continent, combining the serious side of Intel technology with a more informal and fun atmosphere," Mensah adds.

According to the company, the purpose of the two events in Lagos was to stimulate interest among ICT companies and professionals in Intel technology. At present, the company says, its market share in the country stands at around 85 percent. It notes, however, that it has found that, in many areas, users have settled for older technology, such as Pentium I and II systems, unaware that they are unsuitable for most modern computing and communications applications. Intel says the current PC market in Nigeria is divided into a 50 percent share for the small to medium enterprise sector, 30 percent for government and the corporate sector, and 20 percent for consumers.

Intel SA's country manager, Steve Nossel, said in his address at the start of the Computer Street Faire, "Intel is very serious about its expansion into new emerging markets. We have a goal to get to 20 new countries in 2004, and I am pleased to announce that the country that we feel has the greatest potential is Nigeria. As such we have placed Nigeria on top of our list, and this is the first event in our expansion strategy."

The company says that it set up three 'usage zones' at the Intel Computer Street Faire to demonstrate the various areas in which its technology is utilized. It says the zones included mobility, which demonstrated the latest Intel Centrino mobile technology; education; and entertainment. In addition, the company says it established a wireless WiFi 'hotspot' to demonstrate the benefits of wireless network access.

During the two-day event, Intel says that it signed up its first five Nigerian Intel Premier Partners (IPPs) -- companies who will be able to offer their clients high-end Intel-based solutions, as well as more than 150 Intel Product Integrators (IPIs).

Mensah adds, "One of the most interesting aspects of our Nigerian visit was a visit to the Otigba Computer Village in Lagos -- a square kilometer marketplace, comprising small shops and stalls selling only computer and communications products. It proved to be an example of ICT retailing 'Lagos style', with almost 1 500 vendors selling every imaginable brand of product, and where it is perfectly acceptable to haggle over the price of a processor, RAM or a hard drive. One of our aims in Nigeria is to provide training to these sellers to enable them to offer their customers newer technology, backed by the full support of Intel channel partners in the country."

According to Nossel, Intel has clear goals in its initiatives in Nigeria. One of the main imperatives, according to the company, is to ensure that the Intel brand becomes a household name. In that respect the company says it needs to ensure that its sub-brands, such as Celeron, Xeon, Centrino and Itanium, are better understood.

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