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A new Notebook opened in Nigeria's IT History by Biodun Marquis | May 25, 2001


Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the launch of Nigeria’s first branded computer notebook – PRAGMATIC.

A lot of people that had a sneak preview or heard about our product asked, “Is it a truly indigenous product?” The answer to this is “NO”. Indigenous in this context means that all components of a product are sourced and manufactured locally. However, the concept and assemblage of the product are truly indigenous. Computer notebooks or desktops have come a long way. While they appear easy to use, the production of a computer involves logistics and sourcing of different components, assembling them together, to get a complete product. No single individual or organization can lay claim to producing a computer 100%. This derives from economics of scale, outsourcing, patents and copyrights, area of specialization, etc.

The most popular microprocessor-Intel and operating system –Windows are found in more than 80% of personal computers and notebooks worldwide. It is not that the producers of these critical components have the sole knowledge of their production, but rather they established the future of computing by the singular act of pioneer ship. While they started on a modest scale, they over time became the defacto standard of their individual category. It is around these key components that software developers and hardware manufacturers have created solutions. Based on the aforementioned and firm establishment of these key components, there is no point of reinventing the wheel by others.

Over time certain organizations developed niche products around these key components. Examples such as Seagate and Fujitsu for Hard disks abound. Also the legendary production of main motherboards from the Far East cannot be overlooked. It really makes sense for different organizations to concentrate in manufacturing of specific components as they over time develop increased specialty and economics of scale.

The creation of Desktops and Notebooks worldwide is really an assemblage of components from different sources developed into a brand name. Brand names of the big corporations get enmeshed in our subconscious over time that they are accepted as the ultimate. But, do we ever ask ourselves if we are getting real value? Such values include affordability, custom orders and configurations that suit our local environment.

The PRAGMATIC computer Notebook drew its inspiration and genesis from the above. Being a previous user of ‘Big Brand’ Notebooks twice and about getting a third, I was appalled at the cost I had to pay for it. Really, when one is underprivileged, one is motivated to look for least cost and better options. This started the long journey of looking for a notebook that costs less and provides the same quality as the big brand names. The more we sought, the more we discovered that the cost of systems increased with the inclusion of middlemen, distribution channels and foreign labour.

Removing these factors reduces costs significantly. Having arrived at this premise, the next step was how to get the required components to make a Notebook. We contacted several manufacturers of Bare bone Notebook in Taiwan (least I forget, Taiwan is the global powerhouse of Notebook Technology today – an island of small people with great ideas) but we were turned back by most of them because they wanted us to order in excess of 500 or more units. We almost got discouraged but kept on searching and fate smiled on our efforts. We got in touch with the CEO of a manufacturing plant, whom we told our plan, concept, and that Nigeria was an emerging market; they agreed to provide us with the quantity we required with no stiff conditions - this for us was a major breakthrough!

Getting key components such as microprocessor, hard disk, RAM and operating system were straight forward as they were gotten from cost effective sources and even locally from manufacturer's representatives in Nigeria.

Having gotten our sources, we developed a JIT (Just In Time) approach. We keep, minimal stock of the critical components that allow for a weekly sale. Our next batch of items is delivered JIT before these are exhausted. With our method, stock-carrying cost is reduced to a minimum. Also we are able to provide custom orders to suit individual buyers. What operates currently locally is that we have few companies who order predetermined configuration. Buyers are constrained to take the closest fit of these systems to meet their requirements. With our concept we can provide custom order configuration to the last detail. Such includes budget and technical considerations. Also our selling strategy is directly to the end-user. We sell directly therefore eliminating Technology Distribution.

The PRAGMATIC computer notebook should be seen as an assemblage of inspiration, creative thinking, entrepreneurship, marketing strategy and logistics management to provide affordable and real value in Notebook computing in Nigeria. Big brand name is nothing; value is everything.

We are launching two Notebooks today: the PRAGMATIC 340s2 and 340s24.

The 340s24 is a conventional notebook while the 340s2 provides conventional and projection functions. The highlight of this event will be on the 340s2.

The 340s2 starts where other Notebooks end. It provides traditional notebook and projection functions at little or no extra cost. Computer projection function, using dedicated LCD projectors has remained the exclusive preserve of elite computer users that it is out of reach to more than 95% of users worldwide; LCD projectors cost between $5000 to $10,000. The 340s2 is designed to change this equation. A 340s2 user can present computer images with good quality as obtained from dedicated LCD projectors with an overhead projector that costs as little as $300. This is achieved by opening the back cover of the 340s2 Notebook. This is then placed over an Overhead projector to project the image onto a screen. The projection function of the 340s2 is a unique design in the global notebook industry and is not available in other brands. The 340s2 proves to be a rational investment with maximum economic utility.

We have in place necessary infrastructure to maintain effective market presence and provide quality service.

The PRAGMATIC computer notebook is an investment in our local economy. A notebook conceptualized by Nigerians for Nigerians. It is also a trailblazer to future efforts of others in the industry.

Thank you for your attendance.

Speech delivered by Mr. Biodun Marquis, CEO, Pragmatic Technologies Ltd, during the formal launch of the PRAGMATIC Notebook at Federal Palace Hotel on May 24, 2001.