Nigeria will soon produce her first set of dot com millionaires

Ope Adeoye 3 minute read

I have always been a believer that the sheer population of Nigeria suggests that we would have a large internet consumer base with time. Ever since the days of going "to browse" in Skannet at Ibadan all the way from University of Ilorin. Yeah, I am a village boy. Thank you.

My theory goes like this: If in other places (like US, Europe, China) where there's a large consumer base on the internet, services are being created that ended up getting some people into the millionaire and even billionaire club in those countries, it's just a matter of time before the same thing happens here. Maybe longer, but it will come. It's just how it is.

Look at manufacturing for instance. The industrial giants in Europe all got rich at it. When civilization finally reached us, we were able to produce our own manufacturing money men in the 70s and 80s (though of course with a little support from Government policies that made shareholders in colonial manufacturing companies divest to Nigerian ownership).

Even entertainment has seen it's share. From music, to movies. Quite a few of those who pioneered the concept of localizing what the oyinbos produced have hammered today.

We are seeing the same in the Financial sector.

If this pattern is true, i.e. the cycles that play out in the West will ultimately make their way here; then it's safe to assume that Nigeria will still produce it's own set of "I got rich on the internet" people. I use "internet" here as a catch-all term for everything tech.

Some indicators we all see currently point to this. Growth in Internet user base, more investment in broadband services, influx of cash over the border to our tech scene, etc.

Of late, I have had to play host to quite a number of early stage dollar-carrying potential investors coming to sniff the ground and get "your perspective on the Nigerian tech opportunity". I know such folks are meeting lots and lots of other people around and gathering facts. One of the conversations was particularly eye opening. One lady I was speaking with explained that in their line of business there are the "seekers" who go in early into a market, sprinkle around some seed investments in the region of $1M to $15M, help to jump-start the market, then 3-7 years later, they are followed by the more deep pocketed and risk averse funds who go in with hundreds of millions and create an exit for these early explorers. These exits, considering how the deals are structured today, often create a windfall of cash for the founders and early employees of those ventures. A lot of times, these then go ahead and become angel investors and explorers too. Since it's a space they seem to understand. This time, they are local. And the cycle hopefully continues.

Interestingly enough, by looking around, you can already see this sequence playing out.

The investments we are seeing now are of the exploratory kind. The real pepper is coming and the first generation should cycle out over the next 2-5 years.

The killer question is (as Richard Quest would say): will you get your slice of the pie?