Inside Kano’s 4 major markets with poor mobile connectivity | Dailytrust

Inside Kano’s 4 major markets with poor mobile connectivity

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Standing beside his shoe shop at the ever-bustling Sabon Gari Market in Kano under the scorching noon sun, Mukhtar Ibrahim has spent more than 15 minutes trying to reach out to one of his customers who arrived in Kano from Adamawa State but could not locate the shop.

Disappointed by his inability to reach the customer due to poor mobile network connectivity in the market, Mukhtar later decided to use the internet to alternatively communicate with the customer and probably send some of the samples of shoes he has in his shop, but that, too, proved impossible as it also relies on the same poor network from his service provider.

That is how Mukhtar ended up losing a potential Adamawa customer who could have brought a lot of sales and profit to him, just because he couldn’t locate his shop and poor network connectivity won’t allow them to communicate either.

Some part of Kantin Kwari Textile Market in Kano

Mukhtar’s experience is what many traders in Sabon Gari, Kantin Kwari, Singer and Kofar Wambai markets in Northern Nigeria’s commercial city of Kano have been going through for over two years.

The situation is particularly of great concern because virtually all businesses and commercial activities today heavily rely on telecommunication companies for all forms of communication, ranging from making and receiving calls, social media interactions, and bank transactions among others.

Speaking to Daily Trust, Mukhtar lamented that poor connectivity is one of the biggest challenges businessmen in the state are facing.

He said, “Most times, your customer will call you while you are at home informing you that he is coming to buy goods from you. But, the moment you enter the market, all you will be hearing is ‘Not reachable’ when you try to call back.

“If the customer doesn’t know where your shop is, you may likely lose him as when he gets to the market and tries to call, chances are he may not get you. He will then be left with no option other than to buy from someone else.

“Secondly, because most of our businesses have gone digital; a customer may ask for a sample of your goods and you’ll spend an unnecessarily long time trying to send a simple picture through WhatsApp which is not even sent. Or it may show sent at your end but the other person will not receive it, to the extent that some might even think it was your fault.”

‘I trek 1km outside market to send goods samples via WhatsApp’

Mukhtar also said, “At times I will have to go outside the market and walk about 500 metres or even a kilometre before I send a file. I have lost many customers as a result of this unreliable connectivity.

“The same applies to sending and receiving money from banks due to the same network issue. Imagine coming to market to buy goods, then you transfer the money to a trader and it takes two or three hours or, at times until after you return home before he receives the payment alert.

“This is one of the reasons why some of us have stopped accepting bank transfers as not all customers will patiently wait until you receive a credit alert before they collect their goods.

“Some of our customers who are from distant states often ask for a sample of goods then they transfer the money to you and you send the goods to them without them necessarily coming to Kano.

But, with this problem, no one will send his goods to a customer in a distant state without receiving the money, except they know the person well.

“Almost all the telecom operators are the same, likewise the banks; only that one can say their experiences with some service providers or some banks is worse when compared with others,” he concluded.

POS business one of the worst hit

At Kofar Wambai, Yusuf Musa, who has a Point of Sale (POS) machine shop said the story is not in any way different as they are one of the worst hit by the problem because their business relies 100 per cent on network.

He lamented that many times, customers who want to withdraw money from them to buy goods in the market had to give up due to the poor network issue.

“People who come from other states, for instance, seriously face issues with transactions.

“It affects our business so much as we often have to give up the transaction. For instance, a customer may be debited from your end but for the POS operator it will show ‘Transaction declined’. In such a situation you can’t give that customer the money because he will be refunded by the bank later,” he lamented.

Basiru Aliyu, who sells fabrics in Kantin Kwari market, also said until recently, most of them had to stop using one of the networks as a result of how it was threatening their businesses.

“Customers and other people always complained that our numbers were either switched off or not reachable. This poses a serious threat to our businesses. The same applies to bank transactions as most people now prefer to come to the market cashless due to security issues, but the network instability has continued to fail us.”

Traders use personal network boxes to boost their connections

Aliyu said as a result of the deterioration of the network problem, some traders in Kantin Kwari Market now use personal network boxes and antennas to boost connectivity.

This has, however, compounded the problem as people who don’t have it are plunged into a more serious crisis.

He said the market’s board recently forced all those that installed the boosters to remove them to help curb the problem. The action, he said, has so far led to improvement in the network in recent weeks.

“The problem is almost the same in making or receiving calls. In fact, many traders in Kantin Kwari Market have avoided a particular network provider and migrated to alternatives due to the way they have been losing regular and loyal customers,” Aliyu said.

‘We have complained to telecom operators, NCC’

When asked if they have lodged their complaints with some of the telecom service operators, the Managing Director of Kantin Kwari Market, Alhaji Abba Muhammad Bello, said they have complained to all of them and that they had assured on doing something about it.

“We have called the attention of all of them and they promised to do something. In fact, one of them has even started making an effort towards that and I can assure you that there has been significant improvement recently.

“We have also complained to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and they are on top of the situation also,” the MD said.

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