The (geographic information system) GIS business in Nigeria is growing at an astronomical speed, it is no doubt that it is Africa’s fastest growing geospatial industry. No wonder there is a perceivable intense battle for the greatest share of the Nigerian GIS market.
Ten years ago GIS in Nigeria was mainly for the environmental and planning sectors and with an entire private sector patronage, today as the technology spreads like wild fire, thanks to the emerging GIS techies and smooth talking marketers and the growing opportunities.
Campaigns by industry frontliners like Dr. Agbaje, Dr. Jide Kufoniyi, Dr. John Onwuteaka, Prof. Peter Nwilo, new era industry drivers -Prof. Jimi O. and Alabo George have also contributed this growth. Federal and State Government in Nigeria are investing heavily in the Nigerian GIS market, the FG is setting up its spatial data infrastructure through the Office of the Surveyor General and National Agency for Space Research and Development (NASRDA), with related activities from several agencies and parastatals of the Federal Government. On the other hand the State Government through their offices of Surveyors General are implementing Land Information Systems, Digitizing Land records and using GIS as a planning and decision support platform. The Geoinformatics Society of Nigeria estimates that over 50 millions dollars was spent on GIS services and products in Nigeria in 2006. It is therefore not surprising that there is palpable tension in the market.
Two of the world’s leading GIS software manufacturers Environmental Systems Research Institute ESRI and MapInfo are competing for dominance in the market. In a recent survey anchored by GIS Village, the GIS user community in the commercial capital of the country, Lagos, showed that about 42percent of the professionals used ArcGIS products, 38 per cent MapInfo, 8 per cent Intergraph and 12 per cent Others.
MapInfo has recorded quite a level of success even without a marketing strategy and force in Nigeria while ESRI leads the market with its major reseller in Nigeria Delta Systematics Ltd and their roving business development manager Alabo George who combines smart marketing skills and personality with superior technical competence, as a talented application developer. MapInfo is making its several subtle strategic moves to consolidate and extend it share in the GIS market. One of these slamming moves may have ESRI roving evangelist Alabo George move to a coming MapInfo partner in Nigeria, for a much juicy offer. Already, ArcGIS to MapInfo migration strategies are being drawn out, while this is not confirmed, it is a move that observers say may cut ESRI market share by over 40% in the first year.
But I still wonder why MapInfo partners will prefer to start this aggressive campaign by trying to convert ESRI product users and countering a possible ESRI counter move by luring its technology symbol and lead technical support guy in that country, instead of digging new wells for new users and fresh opportunities. My concern is that huge investments have already been made in these companies and having them migrate may be just be another avenue for undue capital flight.
ESRI has done fairly well in the Nigerian market square, even without a major in-country Distributor, but some analysts say their products are more expensive and with a high gradient learning curve, but their effective marketing and technical support strategy in this region is keeping them ahead. Their failure to support higher educational institutions with donations is a lapse MapInfo agents will certainly be banking on, but whatever, the tensed dynamics remain, but for a while- as it stands , ESRI’s man- Alabo, the moves by MapInfo and the counter strategies by ESRI to tighten its grip in Nigeria, will determine the direction of the balance. For the community here, which ever way it goes in the near future, we look forward to a strengthened local technology drive and content at all levels, we expect Government to partner more with private sector in the industry. We expect local developers to start development of home made GIS applications that are more affordable and comprehensible, tapping from the vast opportunities and resources offered by Open Source GIS.
Source: Roger Schwatzer – Convener, Africa GIS Summit