The Naira Brand: Naira dot-com websites

Naira notes. Image courtesy of
Naira notes. Image courtesy of

One of the hottest Nigerian dot-com brands today is “Naira”, and for good reasons. The Naira is the currency of Nigeria and many have found creative ways to use it for their dot-coms. It is short and relieves it’s users of the burden of the word “Nigeria” whilst still maintaining some appeal to Nigerians.

The earliest Naira dot-com brand I knew was was later acquired and pointed to The domain name currently owned by Chams Plc (a leading IT solutions company in Nigeria) once belonged to Cosmos Technologies Ltd. The previous owners of attempted to provide an e-commerce platform for trading goods and services via the Internet to Nigerians, and one can say the Naira domain name was ideal but their venture fell on its face. I however remember sending free sms via in 2002 or thereabout. They developed a portal and attempted to drive traffic to it by offering free sms. The rest is history. The model failed.

I respect long-lasting dot-coms is operated by McReal Online Network Systems Limited in Port Harcourt Nigeria and aims to offer low-cost real-time domain name registration to customers in Nigeria. is another dot-com that has been around for some time. The domain name was registered in 1st August 2001. It is interesting to note how far Nigeria has come when one thinks about the fact that was offering .com domain registration for N5,000 per year back then and that was supposed to have been the lowest pricing!

The biggest and most popular
The next Naira dot-com brand that comes to mind is Nairaland. Nairaland happens to be Nigeria’s most popular website and is managed by ‘Seun Osewa who describes himself as “extremely ambitious, goal-oriented, conscientious, and a capitalist to the core”. Nairaland is essentially a public discussion forum and has gained popularity over the years. It is ad-supported and most of the content is generated by the users. Nairaland has been so popular that there have been spin-off dotcoms, hoping to cash-in on the sizzling Naira brand. On a lighter note, Seun wrote on his personal website “If you want to buy Nairaland, the non-negotiable price is 25 billion naira so I can start my own bank.”

The Naira Host
Another dot-com that comes to mind is Nairahost. Founded in October 2004, Nairahost is currently a leading web host in Nigeria and offers other IT-related services as well. From, “a multi-dimensional media outfit delivering high Impact Solutions in high-end functional Website Development, online portal solution and E-learning development & deployment “.  It is operated by a formidable team of young and entrepreneurial Nigerians and it appears this website would be around for a long time.

It’s all about Nigerians is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alireta Nigeria Limited and describes itself as “low cost domain name registration, transfer, and management in naira for Nigerians”. was registered back in October 2006 and the website offers web hosting as well. There is scanty information on the website and so users would have to visit for full information about the company operating it.

Then there is
Nairalist is essentially an off-shot of Nairaland and it is owned by the same ‘Seun Osewa. Nairalist I dare say, is Nigeria’s response to It offers a simple web interface for users to post classified advertisements and is very easy to use. One good thing about it is that it is coded from scratch and not based on an over-the-shelve web script. Naturally, “Lagos” and “Dating” are the most popular sections of the new website since is Lagos is the busiest place in Nigeria, and Nigerians like other humans, are keen to socialise with other people. For a website that was launched as recently as  January 2009, it is already commanding reasonable traffic and it is only a matter of time before it is listed among the top 20 Nigerian websites due to the fact that it is well-implemented.
Nairaland has always been littered with ad posts and I reckon this new website will reduce that pressure on Nairaland, so more meaningful conversations can be held.

This is by no means an exclusive list of naira dot-com brands but I had to exclude some websites  based on my concerns about their credibility. With the ones I listed above, I offer no warranty and their names/trademarks are acknowledged as the property of their respective owners.

Do you know of any other leading Naira dot-com brands I have excluded, or have an opinion on any of the above-listed Nigerian web businesses, share your comments here and now.

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Oluniyi D. Ajao
Oluniyi D. Ajao is an Internet Entrepreneur and Tech Enthusiast based in South Africa. Follow him on twitter @niyyie for more tech updates.


  1. Nairaland is very addictive but in a fun and informative way.

    A mighty big thank you to Seun! I know he hears this all the time, but I appreciate the fact that he takes the time to help. Not many people are willing to share their knowledge (and for free) – God Bless him.

    I wish him the best of luck as he continues his ambitious journey to help Nigerians home and abroad.


  2. One annoying feature of most Nigerian websites is the “naija” prefix. Its “naija” this or “naija” that. Agian, the “naira” is also being overused.

    I believe we can be more creative. Adding the “naija” or “naira” prefix or suffix limits the scope of a site to just Nigeria. I learnt that lesson after my first website, a forum, failed. Seun is lucky he got into the business early and captured what market there was. I think he is one of the pioneer “naira” sites and every other person (including me back then) copied him 🙂

    These days, I am of the oponion we should build sites that can compete globally unless you have a specific issue you want to address as regards Nigeria.

    I am guity of the “naija”/”naira” syndrome also. I have “naira” suffix on my blog’s domain name. That was deliberate because I launched it specifically to encourage more Nigerians to join in the area my blog focuses on.

  3. We have which prides itself as Nigeria’s first football bookies. They offer money on all football matches played. It’s our own version of William Hill, Ladbrokes, Bet365 and the rest.

  4. Does not having a “naija” or “naira” in our startup name ( ) going to hinder penetration into the nigerian market ?

    Have Nigerians been trained over the years to recognize these (“naija*/naira*) domain names as local brands and perceive the rest as “strangers” ? is determined in offering classifieds in all Africa, including Nigeria. Even if it means demystifying the myth of the naija*/naira*/ng* domain name.

    “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.”

    • Not having naija or naira in your domain name should not hinder your penetration into Nigeria but I believe finding a way for the domain name to be easily identifiable with Nigerians, should endear you to your core Nigerian audience. Nigerians do not have to be “trained” to to recognize such domain names as local businesses.
      My best wishes to your project.

  5. I launched a forum, like I mentioned earlier, around 2007. It had the naija prefix. In the end I discovered most of my visitors were non Nigerians. Of course they left once they found discussions were unique to Nigeria.

    Again, how many Nigerians are on the internet? Not a lot if you ask me – though figures are rapidly improving. These days, I try to choose broad niche areas or “all encompassing” domain names. “naira” and “naija” is too specific to Nigeria and thus scares other nationalities. Again, it limits potential for expansion into the global stage as people will always associate your website with Nigeria.

    • I beg to differ with you Albert. It is indeed not true that not a lot of Nigerians are online. proves you wrong. There is absolutely nothing wrong with targeting a Nigerian audience exclusively and there are millions of Nigerians in Nigeria and outside Nigeria who would gladly patronize you if you get the fundamentals right. There are so many websites online today that target Nigerians only and they are doing well by any measure.

      Talking about expanding to a global stage will depend on your business model. If you want to target a global audience, you might as well do that from day 1.

  6. @ David, I kept a close look on nairaland’s traffic figures for some time. Unless I did not look well, I am GUESSING the site gets less than 1000 uniques pers day. In a country of 150 million people, is that encouraging enough to limit your scope on?

    64% of the site’s traffic comes from Nigeria ( The rest comes from abroad (and I know its NIGERIANS abroad). Demographically speaking, I dont think you will find more than 5 regular non Nigerians on nairaland. Why? Because its a Nigerian forum. The domain name tells it all.

    Oh yes there is nothing wrong in using the “naira” or “naija” appellation but once a website specifically and boldly places a sign board telling you Hey! we are “naija” this or that then you don’t need to be told the place is not for you unless you identify with “naija”.

    I totally disagree with a business model that limits or targets just a micro section of the vast population of the world. The guys at Facebook could have limited its usage to Harvard University but they threw it open to the world. The name does not in anyway limit it to the university even though they had initially developed it for Harvard students.

    If facebook had been called “Harvard University Facebook”, would it have been this popular? There is something about names and it matters in domain name selection.

    • Albert, who said every website must target a global audience? Using your very same analogy, there are thousands of websites in the USA that target residents of the United States only. It all comes down to your business plan and what you want to achieve. Not every website needs to be big. Being big in itself, comes with a unique set of challenges.

      Your guestimate about is flawed. It is impossible that Nairaland has a mere 1,000 unique visitors per day. My personal website had an average of more than 2,500 unique visitors in December 2008 alone. Nairaland will be necessarily much more than that. I know Seun will not divulge the exact figures publicly but I am confident it is between 10,000 and 100,000 unique visitors monthly. Now, that is a whole lot for any serious internet entrepreneur to monetize.

      About Facebook, revert back to my initial point. We do not all need to target a global audience necessarily. If focusing on Nigerians is all I want for my business, so be it. That audience alone is huge and very potential especially when you add Nigerians living outside Nigeria.

      Also, there will always be a need for websites that meet geographical requirements. There will always be a need for Nigerians to socialise online whether Facebook/MySpace exist or not. There would always be a need for any smart internet entrepreneur to fill those needs. So, while some would do fine by targeting the world, the rest would do great targeting their local audience.

  7. @albert
    I totally disagree with you. There is nothing wrong with having “Naija” or “Naira” as a prefix to your domain name. What is important is the audience you wish to address. How will you feel if I name my blog “American Entrepreneurs” and use a name like, “” when my goal is to attract Nigerian Entrepreneurs. Such will not work.
    Also, it is not true that visitors to your site will run away immediately they find out that you are focusing on Nigeria. My blog is focussed on Nigeria and Nigerians and I still get a good percentage of my visitors from other parts of the world.
    If you offer stuff people consider useful and original content, they will visit. On a lighter note, remember that “Google” does not discriminate against “naija” or “naira” it only searches for quality content. Cheers.

    Nice post and quite educative too. Cheers.

  8. I agree with Albert totally. The naming of a site has a lot of impact on the traffic. Many persons locate resources through google and other search engines.

    If they see a name carrying related wordings to Nigeria they are forced not to select those sites among the list of search results. Reasons could be either they will think the contents within that site are restricted to Nigerians or the scam time.

    Come to think of it; how many sites in the US are carrying USA or Dollar or Obama… I think we must think out of the box and rename our sites appropriately if we want to hit traffic in the range of 1,000,000 users daily.

    Nairaland is obviously a site dedicated to Nigerians and its traffic is greatly limited to Nigerians and Friends of Nigeria. That is the reason why it is still struggling within 200,000 – 300,000 thousand registered users.

    I just started a site with web4africa hosting services and I named it and more than 4 foreign companies have approached me to sell the name for them. My suggestion for a Nigeria brand is to use names in our local language which are very short. Names like that can keep our Nigerian brand and also break through the international market.

    We must start having Nigeria pioneered portals receiving millions of users daily. That will help us drive web income into some several millions of dollars monthly. made about $5.2Billion in the last quarter of 2008 which is about 18% up their previous year performance amid the global economic crisis.

    We need a web presence and income like that.

  9. @ David
    Well David, your point is taken and I quite agree with you. I guess its a matter of choice.

    @ Naija Business
    Your blog addresses a broad based subject and is quite different from the “usual” naira sites am talking about. I had a look and saw you discuss mostly “generic” business issues even though you chose a “naija” domain name.

  10. No doubt the Naira name is a very unique name for nigeria’n domainers, for the chap who says naira land has just 1000 uniques thats totally not possible, no doubt that website recieves an average of 1,000,000 uniques a day, do you know recent survey tells us that we have over 10 million Nigerian’s using the interent as at November 2008

    please google your facts

  11. I million unique visitors per day on nairaland! That needs to be checked. I have never met more than 400 or 500 people online at a time on nairaland. Where did these 1 million uniques per day come from?

    We are talking about UNIQUE VISITORS and not TOTAL HITS? Please clarify the difference. I may have been too conservative with the 1000 but I still think its less than 10,000 per day.

    If we do not have the audience right now from naija, then we should think about businesses that can penetrate the global market. Businesses that do not exclude any sector of the vast internet population.

  12. @ Albert,

    “We are talking about UNIQUE VISITORS and not TOTAL HITS? Please clarify the difference. I may have been too conservative with the 1000 but I still think its less than 10,000 per day.”

    If you were referring to Davids last comments, I think you may have misread. His estimated figures referred to monthly hits, not daily;

    “…. I know Seun will not divulge the exact figures publicly but I am confident it is between 10,000 and 100,000 unique visitors monthly. Now, that is a whole lot for any serious internet entrepreneur to monetize.”

    I totally agree with David, that is if those figures are anything to go by.

    Most importantly though, I think more work has to be done on increasing Internet usage, and improving the current State of IT in West Africa if we are to have any chance of fully reaping the benefits of Internet Entrepreneurship.

    Thanks for the post Dave. Hope you got the pics I sent ya?

  13. I was referring to Mr Uzoma’s comment. The one right above where I made the last comment. He claims nairaland gets “a million UNIQUE visitors” PER DAY 😯

    He told me to google my facts so am telling him to clarify if he is mixing up UNIQUE hits and Grand total hits.

  14. I’m not sure why people think that the ‘naira’ prefix is annoying on domain names. And it is still amusing that some have held on to the notion that people should aim for a global market. It just doesn’t make sense.

    For all the Google and Facebook global brands that are being touted as examples, there are many more non-global websites earning good money and meeting the specific needs they were setup to address.

    It is just odd that people think that big (or global) is necessarily the right way to go. Nothing could be further from the truth. Let each entrepreneur decide what he wants to address, be it local (Eti-Osa), national (Nairaland), regional (West Africa Directory), continental (Web4Africa, for example), or Global (Google). Successful websites abound in each category.

    And, honestly, some of the Naira websites listed in Dave’s article are unarguably successful. Nairaland, Nairahost and Nairadomains are examples.

  15. Tell me. What is entrepreneurship all about if not making profit? You completely defeat the objective of business when you limit yourself or the reach of your product.

    This discussion on a previous occasion (in another place) provoked issues of “being ashamed of representing Nigeria”. Very lame argument line. Its got nothing to do with not upholding the image or ideals of Nigeria. We are talking business here.

    Why market your product to a few thousands when you can sell to the world? Dont get me wrong, I absolutely admire net entrepreneurs who have undertaken the sacrifice to tailor their products to address and help fellow Nigerians. I love nairaland and I always talk about Seun. But …

    What is wrong in aspiring to have a reach as wide as Google or facebook? What is our problem? Is is stage fright or lack of the necessary skills or worse still, is it myopia? Is it not time we had a Nigerian Mark Zukerberg or Jerry Yang? Of course we cannot have that with products “tailored to address Nigerians only” and gift wrapped in a “naija” or “naira” domain name.

    Am surprised someone would still be preaching “target only Nigerians” business model when the Chinese have taken over the blogosphere, the American have grabbed social networking. Are we going to come out when everything has been claimed?

    No wonder we are always playing catchup or copy cat.

    • Tell me. What is entrepreneurship all about if not making profit? You completely defeat the objective of business when you limit yourself or the reach of your product.

      This simply means you don’t understand all that has been written above. Ultimately, it is a matter of opinion and what suits your fancy. If competing with Facebook, Google, Yahoo is what suits your ego, by all means, go ahead. Same way Idris Abdulkareem can compete with Curtis Jackson (50 Cent) or Vivid Imagination can compete with Tommy Hilfiger on a global scale.

      This is not about emotions. African entrepreneurs currently do not have the technical know-how and the financial muscle to match global brands, on the Internet. It is not as simplistic as you are putting it. It only makes more sense to target your local market at this time. In the case of Nigeria, it is a very big/potential market. By the time your website serves just 50% of the Nigerian online population, you can dream about extending your service outside Nigeria. Despite that, there will still always be a need for websites targetting particular geographical zones. I stand to be corrected.

  16. @ albert,

    You’re totally off the mark. If you know what “niche marketing” is all about, you won’t be saying all these.

    Have you heard about Tony Hsieh of He targets Americans and did 800 Million Dollars like year. Now I can reel off other examples.

    It is fantastic to have niche webistes that targets a particular group of people. I talked about above. This is a unique twist to running a football bookmaking company.

  17. @Oluniyi David Ajao
    This time you said it all. The problem has been inadequate technical skills, no finance and generally stage fright. I like your matter of fact way of hitting the nail on the head. Apologies if I have been a bit “emotional” and I agree these problems are not easy to solve.

    @Tunde Adetokunbo
    A niche market does not always translate to “a geographical region”.

  18. @ albert,

    I agree. But no one said people outside Nigeria cannot access these naira/naija websites.

    I once “worked” with a guy that ran a forum dedicated to gists in Milton Keyenes (a small town East of England). It was a wild success.

    And what about the Zappos I mentioned? I made a mistake about the 800M I said. They actually did A BILLION DOLLARS last year.

    Let me tell you about Tim Schmidt of United States Concealed Carry Association ( He did over Four Million Dollars last year.

    My friend. Nothing wrong with going global if thats what you want but I tell you, targeting a geographical location is a smart thing to do.

    Meanwhile, why do you think google adwords have the “Target Geographical Location” option? They know many smart marketers are milking it like hell.

    Nuff said…

  19. @Tunde Adetokunbo
    You did not go through this discussion from the start. If you had, you would have found my argument had not been against focusing your energy or business on naija BUT that right now, all that effort is not worth it since there are very very few Nigrians on the net.

    Further, I had suggested that the best way to overcome this problem is to throw the doors of your business wide open to the world instead of “Nigerianising” it and thus restrict participation to an almost non existent market or internet population.

    Of course certain businesses will thrive in these circumstances – for example Web hosting companies, who will now bring this much needed connectivity. Others like social networking sites will be making a terrible mistake if they continue to caption themselves “naija” or “naira”. Ask yourself why nairaland has not exploded beyond the borders of Nigeria (ie to have thousand of other nationalities register) even though its older than facebook, bebo etc?

    Now you know why Zappos was a success. The millions of American that were on the net. In this case, you can safely niche your website on “Dollar” or “Yankee” and succedd because you have millions online, you dont really need anyone from outside. Constrast this against the Nigerian internet population.

    My argument is that a geographical location is not worth targeting if its not having enough people to make that worthwhile.

    I would like to know this “gist” forum belonging to your friend. I spend loads of time on the net and I am yet to observe any other Nigerian forum as successful as nairaland.

  20. This topic is very interesting and I can see so many arguments here that are baseless.

    The question here is not about upholding Nigeria image but the suitability of a domain names as regard reaching a larger market.

    Albert is totally right. Many of us have been arguing but I suspect those arguing don’t have a website. Having a blog does not equate to having a full ecommerce or ebusiness site. If you are really an ebusiness entrepreneur and your daily meal depend on it, I don’t think you will want to continue with Naija names.

    How many Nigerians pay for any service done online if not hosting and domain name regs. You need to reach markets that are ready to buy your goods and services.

  21. I dont have any problem with the naira names. There is nothing wrong with having a business website that targets only a group of people in a geographical area.

    I doubt Nairaland’s owner would have achieved so much success if he targeted the whole world. Making it a Nigerian thingy made me join and I’m sure it is so with most members.

    I run and I’m loving it. It’s my 22nd business website and from my experience since 2003, targeting a group of people in a geographical area is a smart thing to do.

    Yes, you will not create a facebook or youtube (how many world targeted sites are that successful) but you can make yourself a lot of money targeting Nigerians.

  22. We run , which is Nigeria’s number one online wedding shop.

    We had a long and hard think about what to call our website before we started, and I do agree with a few people who say using the word “Naija” or “Naira” in the web address limits your audience.

    In our case that is what we wanted. We are offering a service to clients who reside in Nigeria. Our currency is in Naira. We advertise on Nigerian on websites & magazines. We are currently incorporating interswitch as another payment system for clients; again that is a Nigerian payment system.

    We had a few people comment on why we named our website thus, but to identify with Nigerians we had to use a Nigerian Name. Our target market is Nigeria.

  23. This is a nice article…

    I started a new site called Nairasource and i got a lot of inspiration from Nairaland.

    It is more than just a forum, in Nairasource, you can chat and watch Nigerian movies and the intent of building it is not for revenue generation but to build a strong grass root movement of Nigerians that will change the face of Nigeria in the future.

    take your time and visit and be a part of this growing network of great Nigerians…

    we just started last month and so far we have more than 400 Nigerians from all over the world.

    we are also trying to host the first all Nigerian Online chess championship in our 1,000,000 capacity chess arena.

    God bless Nigeria and the owner of this site.

  24. The end justifies the means. You achieve what you want to achieve. You can be a local business and operate globally or decide to stay local. Your domain however tells exactly your pedigree. The choice is yours. My domain is an example of a local business that operates globally.

  25. These argument is baseless..what is the meaning of google, yahoo or amazon before the became an international brand..but one trait is applicable to them they all capture the local market before going global..what even the domain is i dont see that as a factor of a site not going global if it has the potential…,,,, are site that are capturing their local market and if that is done why should they not go global..look at our banks starting from setting up branches in neighbouring african cities to some part in uk, very soon GTB will be a Barclays.. the point is to start..

  26. I really enjoyed reading this post and comments. I don’t think there is anything wrong in using “naira” in your domain name, the owner of the business know who they are targeting. Not every brand is google, facebook or yahoo and even this brands target the local market e.g Google Nigeria(infact Google “Any country in the world”). This is how they generate their revenue.

    Why did this global brands become successful? They had local appeal. For example I didn’t join facebook because it was the largest social networking site, but because I knew I could connect with my friends both home and abroad.

    We tend to make the mistake of comparing economies, how can you compare the U.S Economy to the Nigeria Economy. Some of the success a business attains there in relation to a similar business over here is the purchasing power of the average man (credit lines inclusive).

    I think we overestimate the internet penetration index in Nigeria or even the degree of internet/computer literacy.
    Funny enough the attempts to purchase Nairaland has not been from Nigerians but foreigners, they know the value of the kind of traffic that site generates. For those of us clamoring for global brands, build your own(it might even inspire some other young Nigerian Entrepreneur) and let the builder of a local brand be.

    Have you noticed the “ng” trend too, not “”? I have patronized this trend.

    @David wonderful blog, i am bookmarking this site.

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