As one enters into the environment that accommodates the famous Computer Village, one cannot help but be captured by the sights and sounds blaring from the various shops housing the traders or companies dealing in the sales of computer and phone accessories, digital camera and camera accessories as they advertise their products which they sometimes engage young individuals to either dance, compere or do some comedy in order to attract potential customers. If one is not focused or time-conscious, one may have spent almost the whole day walking around and just standing around centers of attraction. Such is the characteristic of this ever-busy and rowdy market which is a major IT commercial center in the city of Lagos and arguably in the whole of West Africa.
Among the many products on sale include mobile phones and mobile phone accessories, (memory cards, chargers, batteries, casings etc). Also computers and computer accessories including DVD writers, Mother boards, LCDs, Keyboards, RAM cards among others). Occasionally you might come across other digital products like camcorders, digital cameras and flat screen televisions among other electronic devices. There are telephone and computer repairers around the market and these are the ones to patronize for refurbished used phones and computers.Hence the Ikeja Computer Village which is reputed to be the largest IT market in West Africa makes Ikeja an outstanding town from other towns in Lagos.
Being the largest IT market in West Africa, a lot of money is being made in millions daily as it is a place with ‘so many things going on there’, as one of the traders there puts it. The location of the market which is situated in a high-brow part of Lagos makes the demand for landed properties to be very high, hence making the rent high. The cost of renting a shop in the market ranges from N200,000/annum, N350,000 and N750,000/annum and above as the case may be. Hence, inside the Computer Village, the rent is quite expensive.
It is not rare to find touts in this kind of market where everyone is trying to eke out a living by all means, either legitimately or illegitimately. These touts are men of different age groups, although they are mainly young people who come around potential buyers who are walking through the market. They usually try to call your attention by asking you questions or telling you things like – ‘fine girl, wetin you wan buy?’, ‘come, make I give you good London use’. Over the years, many people have passed through the ordeal of being swindled in the market during the process of trying to buy some products there, e.g. phones. Most of the time, these victims never even realize that they have been swindled until they return back to their destinations.
For instance, there have been stories of buyers who found out that the ‘phones’ that they thought they had bought were just dummies that were tucked with ‘fufu’ (prepared cassava). The experiences of these individuals are better imagined than being a victim yourself as this has left many people feeling downcast and afraid of trusting any trader in the market. Obviously, the activity of these touts has made some honest traders to lose potential customers who now prefer to patronize small-scale phone and laptops accessories traders in other parts of Lagos.
As a first-time visitor to the market, it is sometimes advisable for one to visit the market with someone who is quite familiar with the terrain and who knows how business is run there in order to avoid being a victim of such ugly experiences.
Computer village is a never boring place to be, it is a small area with various streets and many people coming in and out every second. The sound of music all over is another interesting thing to mention and the ever amazing street dancers dancing for various brands all over. The various streets in the market are Adepele, Otigba, Francis, Olayeni I & II, Pepple which all have gates leading to them. By 6pm, the individuals who secure the premises start locking the gates in order to prevent miscreants from taking over after the traders leave.
The two major roads leading into the market include Simbiat Abiola Way (formerly, Medical Road) and Obafemi Awolowo Way. Motorists coming from Maryland and others going to Mafoluku/Oshodi usually ply Simbiat Abiola Way. The rowdy nature of the market has also made traffic in the place to start building up as early as 4pm which is the official closing hour for civil servants returning from their offices to other parts of the town.
History has it that the present location of this market was a residential area until late 1999 or early 2000 when Information technology became a household name in Nigeria. Having known that a major industry was about to boom, many businessmen decided to commence trading in IT equipment and devices in Otigba Street, Ikeja.
However, the area that was a residential area quickly transformed into a commercial area without any preconceived plan by the government. The absence of an initial plan has made development in the market quite disorderly with little or no provision for parking lots, conveniences, restaurants and other facilities which can make the market a world class one. In recent times, the Lagos State government had proposed a plan to relocate the Computer Village to Katangowa (located along Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway) in Agbado/Oke-Odo Local Council Development Area in the state. In terms of size, Katangowa is bigger than the Computer Village, as the market covers about 26hectares of land with most of the traders dealing in second-hand clothes.
The Lagos State Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mr Olutoyin Ayinde said measures were being put in place by the state government to rehabilitate Katangowa and thus fast track the relocation of the Computer Village traders. He said that, “the initiative to rebuild the Computer Village is in line with the policy of the state government to re-plan Ikeja. The place you have as Computer Village today was a residential zone in Ikeja and not built for commercial activities. But due to long years of military rule, we seem to have lost a sense of order and planning. Now the state government is working tirelessly to rebuild the place and put it in a better shape after it discovered that the Computer Village is no longer conducive and hence started making efforts to move the traders operating there to Katangowa.”
Definitely, this development is going to further open up more areas around the proposed site for the relocation as many investors have already started investing in landed properties around the place. Evidently, this proposal will bring about a huge expansion for the market and making it more attractive to investors from all over the world.