[ED NOTE: The following has been submitted by our BlackBerry Cool correspondent in Nigeria, Temitope Smolaso Olufoye. The article is an update from his first article regarding BlackBerry in Nigeria.]
The BlackBerry device I use here in Nigeria is the BlackBerry 8100. Owning a BlackBerry in Nigeria gives me an incredible advantage. Although other phones have better cameras than the BlackBerry, I find the 8100 camera very useful. The company I work for is called Begro Geological Consultants, and we often need to attach pictures to our reports. Since I am using 8100, I can take pictures with my 8100 and attach them easily to reports. This is just one example of how owning a BlackBerry in Nigeria has helped me.
My company also benefits from my BlackBerry ownership because we often gets requests for proposals, and we don’t have a laptop. Life isn’t easy here in Nigeria and things don’t come easily, but we maximize everything that comes our way. When we get a proposal request, we immediately start writing all of our ideas on our BlackBerry, before transferring to a PC. I’m not saying other handhelds can’t do this, but it is both cheaper and easier for me to do it on a BlackBerry.
In my last article, BlackBerryCool.com reader Paul, asked me if Nigerians are talking about the iPhone. Now, the iPhone is definitely a great phone with its good looking browser and a giant screen. The problem with it, is that it’s just too expensive to get a good iPhone data plan. You pay three times what your pay for a BlackBerry data plan. Why should I pay more for iPhone when I can pay less for BlackBerry and get more from my phone. Also, with the BlackBerry Storm, I don’t think I need an iPhone. The truth is, iPhone is not as celebrated in Nigeria as much as the BlackBerry. There aren’t many service providers advertising devices other than the BlackBerry, which gets a lot of advertisements on Nigerian networks.
Another great question from my last article came from African Boy. After discussing data plan costs, African Boy asked “What is the data through-put allowed per month?”
I don’t believe it’s possible to measure throughput on a BlackBerry in Nigeria. The reason being is that the BlackBerry does not show you network data while transferring a file. I think Google is putting something together that will allow us to take these measurements. Here in Nigeria, when you reach a place where they say they have broadband, the throughput you get is only 7kbps; hardly broadband.
MTN, a GSM cellular network operator delivering service in South Africa and other African countries, has started 3.5G in about three cities and EDGE is springing up too. Considering many countries are dealing with 4.8 mbps, I’m beginning to think our money is being wasted on useless ventures.
Recently, I went into a cyber cafe and tried to download a 10MB file. After 50 minutes I checked my download and I had only downloaded 0.22bytes. This is a typical “broadband” experience here. I felt exasperated to say the least.
We’re just now starting to see fiber optic cables being laid and we’re moving forward, albeit slowly. Until then, the crawling continues.
[ED NOTE: As I was editing this article I was using BlackBerry Messenger to chat with Temitope in Nigeria. The ability to chat with someone instantly from Canada to Africa is both an incredible feeling and a sign of the times.]