Mobile Meets Farmer: Lessons for the Entrepreneur

Why is it assumed that of all problems facing Nigerian farmers, the most acute is treatable by merely buying mobile phones for them? 

This was the opening question in Dele Momodu’s recent article in Nigeria’s THISDAY Newspaper published on 5 January, 2013. The Federal Government (FG) had recently announced its plan to distribute mobile phones to 10 million agricultural entrepreneurs in 2013. This project cost was estimated at N60billion (although disputed by the Minister). The policy the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is promoting is to get mobile phones to farmers, as part of its agricultural transformation agenda, to connect farmers to information, expand their access to markets, improve their access to savings and loans, and help them adapt to climate change dynamics that affect them and their livelihoods. This decision was made following the success story of the Growth Enhancement Support (GES), which used mobile phones to reach farmers with subsidized inputs. The system ended 40 years of corruption on fertilizers and cut off rent seekers and middlemen who – for decades – have entrenched massive corruption of the fertilizer sector. Government succeeded. The GES system reached over 1.2 million farmers in 120 days in 2012. The success story of this model in Kenya cannot be overemphasised and it has led to new entrepreneurial endeavours that I greatly admire such as M-Kilimo and M-Farm. Today, mobile phones play an increasingly important part in new and existing farm projects in Kenya. However, there has been a lot of debates on this project in Nigeria but personally I have 4 questions I am leaving you to ponder on:

  1. Should the FG be buying mobile phones for the farmers or focusing the funds on other areas that will improve the farmer’s yield?
  2. With Nigeria already having 110 million cellphones, can’t the FG pilot with farmers that already have phones to encourage other farmers to buy after they can see the benefits that will accrue to them?
  3. Do we really have 10 million farmers in Nigeria? With a population of about 160 million, is the FG claiming we have 1 farmer for every 16 citizens?
  4. If the cost of each phone is N6,000 and the FG is planning to purchase 10 million units, does that not still cost N60 billion???

The focus of today’s article however is look beyond this national controversy and see the lessons in it for the entrepreneur.

How can I improve my business with mobile marketing since almost every Nigerian will soon have a mobile phone in their hands?

This is just one of the statistics proving that ignoring mobile marketing may not be a wise move.


  • According to Mobile Marketing Association Asia (2011), more people on planet Earth own a mobile phone (5.1 billion) than own a toothbrush (4.2 billion) {disgusting but true}.
  • As initially stated, the current number of cell phones in Nigeria is over 110 million representing about 70% of the total population.
  • There are four million people using smartphones in Nigeria, and half of those phones are Blackberries. In the next four years, that number is expected to hit 25 million.
  • Nigeria leads its counterparts on the continent with smart phone penetration. The smart phone market is growing by 4% every month and that translates to an average of 2 million handsets per year.
  • According to TNS, a leading global market research firm, 25% of Nigerian mobile subscribers use smart phones
  • Potential market size for mobile money services, also known as mobile payment in Nigeria, is worth $7.2bn (about N1.1trn) by 2015.


  • According to Morgan Stanley (2012), 91% of all smart phone users have their phone within arm’s reach 24/7. I am sure that this is much higher in Nigeria with our addiction to our phones (though there are no current data to support this)
  • According to Facebook (2012), there are more than 350 million active users [44 percent] currently accessing Facebook through their mobile devices. And people that use Facebook on their mobile devices are twice as active on Facebook as non-mobile users.


  • According to the CTIA Wireless Association, while it takes 90 minutes for the average person to respond to an email, it takes just 90 seconds for someone on average to respond to a text message.
  • According to Mobile Marketer, 70% of all mobile searches result in action within 1 hour.


  • Mobile marketing will account for 15.2% of global online ad spend by 2016. (Berg Insight, 2012)
  • According to Borrell Associates, mobile coupons get 10 times the redemption rate of traditional coupons.
  • According to Yankee Group, global mobile payments (called m-payments) currently total approximately $240 billion and are expected to exceed $1 trillion by 2015.
  • According to IDC, mobile app downloads will reach 76.9 billion in 2014 and will generate $35 billion in sales.
  • 61% of local searches on a mobile phone result in a phone call. (Google, 2012)
  • 52% of all mobile ads result in a phone call. (xAd, 2012)


Why should you care?

Well to me, it means that mobile marketing should be a key part to the marketing plan of virtually any company. Mobile marketing allows you to reach customers quickly. Customers will get more and more used to paying you and other companies via their mobile device. And mobile applications will continue to explode, and are not only a way for you to stay in front of customers, but they could be a huge revenue source for your company.

So, don’t ignore this key marketing trend. Rather, seize the opportunity to become the mobile marketing leader in your niche. Mobile marketing will give you access to a captive audience in a hyper-targeted way. It produces more immediate responses, and a higher response rate, than any other marketing method ever seen before. The mobile marketing tsunami is changing the dynamic of every element of marketing.

The bottom line? Mobile is here to stay, and your consumers are using it virtually every day of their lives. Given that, isn’t it time for you to get started and dive into the world of mobile? Hopefully, the statistics and takeaways I’ve outlined above will lay the foundation for you to take the next step.

I leave you with this video showing the growth of Blackberry smart phone in Nigeria.

To your success,


Olanrewaju Oniyitan


Sean says:

As curious as I got about this article, your defense for entrepreneurs is quite restricted. As soon as you said “The focus of today’s article however is look beyond this national controversy and see the lessons in it for the entrepreneur.”

I think it will be difficult for entrepreneurs to outline the advantages of mobile marketing from the FG expenditure plans because they are entirely disconnected topics. There’s no point looking ‘beyond’ the controversy if the planned expenditure is culpable.

Olanrewaju Oniyitan says:

Thank you Sean for your contribution. We appreciate your view of thinking that “Mobile Marketing and FG expenditure plans are entirely disconnected topics”. The action from the Government goes to show the importance attached to mobile phones in Nigeria and the fact that very soon most adults in Nigeria will carry a mobile phone. We have gotten feedback from entrepreneurs who have seen it in a different light and have learnt some business lessons.

Ron says:

Very insightful. I enjoyed reading this article.

Olanrewaju Oniyitan says:

Thanks Ron for your comment. I hope you will be implementing mobile marketing as part of your marketing strategy for your business in 2013.