From Isaac Anumihe, Abuja
Engery poverty is worsening in Nigeria. It is making it difficult for Nigerians to communicate with their phones. And Abuja businessmen and women have cashed in on the situation by establishing phone-charging shops.
The shops or kiosks are mainly rented for the business of charging phones. All the business needs is a generating set and different sockets where the phones can be plugged. The generating set is put on and the phones are plugged.
Where a customer brings his phone for charging, he is given a tag to identify his phone. The phone is entirely left in the care of the businessman. The shop owner is responsible for both the security and charging of the phone. When the owner comes to collect his phone, he presents his tag after paying a fee of N50.
Whether his phone is fully charged or not, as long as he collects his phone the transaction is over. While some make N3,000 a day, others make more or less depending on how busy the environment is.
The shop owners told Daily Sun that they saw good business opportunity and capitalised on it. Godwin Ebere said he invested N100,000 to obtain a container and a business space. Six months after, he recouped his money:
“I discovered that the problem in my area is power. When I put on my generating set I found out that many people came to my house to charge their phones. I thought that if I commercialise it I would have enough patronage.
“First, I started collecting money for charging their phones in my house. Then I rented a shop close to my house. That was how the business started. Today, I make a minimum of N3000 a day.”
Abuchi, a polytechnic graduate, said that for want of what to do, he ventured into the business and he has no regrets: “So far, so good! I just started the business and I will make it by God’s Grace.
“After graduating from Okopoly, I stayed at home for seven years and then I got the idea to start this business. I gathered money, rented this shop and bought a generating set and multiple chargers.”
On the risk of misplacing phones or losing phones: “I have not experienced any loss. When a client drops his phone, I will tag it and give the client a tally number.
“During collection, if the number on the phone does not tally with the number he is having, the phone will not be given to him. Also, if the number is lost the client must produce evidence of ownership.”
Precious admitted: “There is a great risk in charging phones. You can see that this (business premises) has burglary proof. Nobody enters here. Transactions are executed through the burglary proof. The environment must be secured otherwise you lose or misplace peoples’ phones.”
Nigeria has made several failed attempts in the past to have uninterrupted supply of electricity. Perhaps, no infrastructure in Nigeria has received the same attention the power sector has received by successive governments. But all efforts in addressing the power problem in Nigeria have come to naught.
In search of solution, the Dr Goodluck Jonathan administration privatised the former Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) and split it into 11 distribution companies (DisCos) and six generating companies (GenCos). Unfortunately, that did not solve the problem.
In an attempt to assuage the DisCos and GenCos, the Muhammadu Buhari administration spent over N7 trillion but the problem remains intractable. It is against this backdrop that the business of charging phones is thriving, particularly in Abuja.