If you have ever ventured into Computer Village – the vast and bustling “all things tech” market in Ikeja, you would certainly be able to find whatever you were looking for. Items from the smallest accessories like chargers and phone cases, to the most modern high tech computers can be had within the chaotic maze that Nigerians have come to know and love.
Computer Village is a major economic force in the region and it is estimated that from within its confines, more than $2 billion is generated annually. Thousands of people are employed here, many of them having relocated form rural villages to start a business and provide for their families.
There are a lot of trickle down economics at play here. The local entrepreneurs need to eat and subsequently they patronize the many food shops (buka joints) that dot the crowded streets, along with other businesses in the area that rely on the goods and services provided within the village – many symbiotic relationships have evolved. The extensive ecosystem is healthy and vibrant – but may soon be in for a jolting change.
Where the tech market currently sits, is notorious for stagnant congestion, poor sanitation, and a confusing, convoluted layout – it was not planned strategically. Now the local government is looking to relocate the village about 13 kilometers north west to Katangowa. 13 kilometers, may not seem far, but in Lagos time – this could easily equal a couple of hours in normal “go slows.”
The new plan is a strategic one, because the government knows that by dismantling and moving the village, it will open up this part of Ikeja to improve on traffic movement, environmental conditions and allow for proper, thoughtfully planned out development to occur.
This shift will most likely deal a heavy blow to the current business owners who will either have to make the move, relocate somewhere else, or transition into a different business endeavor.
Not surprisingly, this upcoming move (which has been in the works for over 2 years) has been met with skepticism, anger and resentment from the individuals being affected.
After speaking with some current business owners and suppliers, many reported that they will not be moving to the new location and will make do somewhere else.
When asked whey they wont make the shift to Katangowa, they claim that patrons will not want to travel further to get their goods and will most likely seek to buy from other sources online.
So what does this mean for West Africa’s largest computer village? Well, this remains to be seen, but we certainly hope that – where ever it is, it will remain a vital part of the local economy.
The government has the right idea- in theory. They aim to mitigate the myriad of problems and headaches that arise when a mega city grows too fast for its own good.
Trying to systematically solve some of the most basic and frustrating issues of the sprawling metropolis is something that honestly has to be done – if not now – when?
Our only hope is that they go about the plan in a conscientious manner, and not completely disrupt the livelihoods of the hardworking and industrious people that make the city tick.