Story of Abuja’s ‘try your luck’ phone repairers
The rise and advancement in modern technology have provided solutions to most of man’s problems and also eased his ways of doing things, especially in the area of communication.
The advent of communication gadgets no doubt has expanded economic activities across major cities in Nigeria, as there is hardly any community one goes to without sighting a tent for gadgets repairs most especially phones.
These phone technicians now occupy a critical position on the value chain in the telecommunication sector. Many youths in Nigeria have resorted to phone repairs as a means of livelihood and job creation thereby contributing to the economy and personal development.
Though the success rates of business transactions carried out in mist of these hubs are encouraging, investigations by METRO shows that most phone repairers in these centers have no formal training. Like quack doctors, most of them rely on their experiences or resort to trial and error in fixing gadgets.
A visit to stands at the ever busy computer village in Abuja show young Nigerians through their ingenuity and passion deploying their talent to bring dead or malfunctioning phones back to life.
The business is brisk and straight to the point. As, you come to the stand or centre where these phones are being repaired one thing that immediately strikes you is what level of skill the repairer may have acquired to be able to bring the phone or gadget to life?
Some of the phone repairers who spoke to our correspondent say though they have no formal training in the handling of the different phone brands, with constant interface and study of different phones, they are able to understudy the shape and come up with workable solutions to some of their challenges.
The technicians say they are willing to deploy their creative knowledge to provide solution in an industry where every component of the products is hardly manufactured in the country.
At the Mararaba, ATTI Plaza, where you have all kinds of phones sellers, repairers and accessories merchants, technical assistants and touts are on ground to lure prospective customers into their stand to have ones phone fixed. These touts are skilled enough to even sway customers to purchase phone brands different from the ones intended before making the trip.
A phone repairer at the ATTI plaza, Mr. Kennedy Chuks who has been in the business for over 10 years argues that no training is greater than the years an apprentice puts in to learn the business from his boss.
When asked if he considers himself a professional phone repairer, Chuks said, “I wouldn’t say I am a professional technician since I didn’t study engineering or even computer in higher institution, but the truth is that I would not consider myself a quack because of the years I put in learning this business is enough to make me a technician in my own right. If you go to countries like China or Korea, most of the people who couple these phones there are not even engineers, they rely on years of experience and observation to be able to do what they do, so what are we saying?”
Chuks called for more support from government and well-meaning Nigerians to encourage people like himself by providing them with stable electricity and low interest loans to grow their business.
A visit to the Computer village within the heart of the federal capital territory, it was a different ball game. There were different types of shops and customers were repairing, selling or buying phones and communication gadgets.
Mr. Kayode Tolu, a graduate of Mathematics, said he believes when the government is able to commit more efforts to the stability in the electricity supply, they would have empowered more Nigerians to live a good live for themselves through such legitimate earnings.
“A lot of us are doing perfectly okay. Once the light is stable I assure you more people will be interested in this business. People are earning good living from phones and other gadgets repairs. But, I want to appeal to the government to ensure constant power supply. We need light here because without it, we cannot operate. At times we run on generator and it is not good, it can damage some of the phones and you will be liable to it. Or how do you explain it to your customer?” he ask.
On how to acquire skills for the business, Tolu said phone repair is one business that requires intelligence and patience,
“All you require is to be under a boss and learn then fulfilling the terms of agreement as the case maybe you are let go. But some very intelligent people don’t even need to be under any boss, with common sense you just find all manners of people being able to fix phones. But I don’t endorse that, no matter how intelligent you are, take time out to learn under someone. That way you don’t end up damaging people’s phones through trial and error.”
Aside the hazards and risk associated with leaving ones gadget in the hands of technicians who most times ends up guessing what may be the faults, there is the tendency for the business of phone repairs to become one of the largest jobs created in the small and medium enterprise industry in Nigeria.
Miss Bello Funke, sells phones but has a little knowledge of the phones according to her. She said but for funds, would have loved to further study on phone repairs in the university as an engineer.
“Repairing phones is a good job. It takes your creativity to be tasked and the more. I won’t mind going to the university to learn more about it. I have gotten the practical’s though not very deep but I need good knowledge of it to enable me excel on it. I have a boss who is the head. He travels to buy them while I stay back and look after the shop.
“One major challenge with the business is that the risk is higher. When you are not careful, people can steal phones and bring to you for sale. You must be mindful of your source when buying new phones. The business has created lots of jobs. People you see here are all doing virtually in different manner, mode and dimension. I can take good care of myself in a way. It has afforded me more opportunity to expand my horizon.”
With so much talents abound in computer hubs across the country, governments and other stakeholders need to come together to harness the talents by creating formal trainings for these technicians as is done in other climes.”