By Babatunde Ekanola
I pride myself as an Information and Communication science undergraduate of one of the Top Federal Universities in Nigeria but up until June this year, I was completely ignorant about the existence of the Value Added Service (VAS) industry. I chalked up all the activities by VAS Companies to the workings of the Mobile Network provider and never felt it was more than that.
However, all that changed when I interned at Terragon Limited (TL), the Access and Aggregation company of Terragon Group in Lagos, Nigeria. I became wiser as I was welcomed into the world of mobile technology. I would basically sum up all my learnings so far by describing VAS as services that apply to the lifestyle of a vast demography and psychography of Subscribers – Culture, Personal preferences, Religious beliefs, and much more – that is deeply integrated in the Network. From my day to day dealing, I have come to agree that there could be no better description for this.
At TL, we are proactively, redefining mobile VAS, and giving subscribers true value for their money. Subscribers are provided with services to enable them enjoy all aspects of life on their mobile devices. From Entertainment to Religion, Academic and Work amongst other services. Working in TL has made me understand that the little things that we do not care for, in most cases, make major impact.
Within my short time here, I’ve moved from being blank into a state of understanding the basis of the industry, and at this stage I believe learning the bases of any trade or work would give life to that industry. I have also come to the understanding that contrary to public opinion, VAS services do not necessarily come directly from the network operator as the consistent yet fascinating task required of me daily involves lots of creativity and swift thinking.
This industry is new to me, likewise new to other people and I dare say even students and educationists in the Computer and Technology departments of our Higher Institutions. It is important to note that some of the ground breaking inventions we use for today’s work are from students in school. Examples of this include Facebook which was started by Mark Zuckerberg, while studying psychology and computer science at Harvard University; Snapchatcreated by Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy, and Reggie Brown, who were Stanford University students; andGoogle began in March 1995 as a research project by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, students at Stanford University; to mention a few.
But here in Nigerian institutions, more than 75 percent, of what we are taught in science school looks nothing close to what happens in the real world. The only way we can get out of that mindset that has been built into us (and which we have grown into) is through a lot of creativity, passion, open-mindedness, technicality and purpose.
I believe if companies such as TL take a deeper look into educating the younger generation in thinking and preparing themselves for the real industry outside of all the technicalities in school, in the not-too-distant future, we can generate more ideas and products that will push the industry, this generation, our nation and our continent forward.
Babatunde Ekanola is an intern with Terragon Group.