23 years ago, my mum was actively involved in the construction of our current family home in Lagos, Nigeria. She was everywhere with sizeable cash sums – Bar Beach to haggle with sand tippers, Amu market for tiles and other building supplies, Coker for electrical supplies, Owode-Onirin for metalwork, Mile 2 for furniture, and just about anywhere else in Lagos where she could get what appears a decent bargain. Pregnant with her fifth child, she still found the energy to hop into tipper trucks with drivers and oversee every aspect of the building process. Under her supervision, the beautiful house was completed in just 11 months and we moved in.
Last month, I discovered that moving home can be very stressful. Moving into a new flat is quite stressful. But moving into a new flat in Lagos is ultra-stressful. After finding a flat in Gbagada with a landlord who could accept one year’s rent (but two years agreement and agency fees), the ordeal was only beginning. The previous tenant had ripped out the electrical wiring, tiles and burglary proofing before leaving. The kitchen and bathrooms were completely unusable and the place was filthy. I needed to replace the burglary proofing, WC and tiles in addition to rewiring the apartment.
“But where is the time?” was my concern as I thought about how many productive hours I would have to waste buying materials and supervising dodgy artisans, as per my mum’s example. This, she assured me, was the only way to ensure that one does not get cheated. I then met a contractor who demonstrated some ability without charging me an arm and a leg for it solving a part of that problem. This still left me with the problem of how to find the time to monitor the work, withdraw money for materials and get it across to him. His solution was simple – do it all online.
I saved his account details on my phone and instructed him to keep me visually updated with photos of all materials and work via Whatsapp before I would wire any money to him. My technophobe mum was skeptical about this arrangement but in the space of a week, my shambolic flat was revamped and attained cozy status. The contractor did all the running around – Amu market for tiles, Coker for electrical supplies and plumbing materials and Owode-Onirin for the new metallic door. All I had to do was tap a few buttons on my tab screen to send out the money to put him to work and keep track of the work. I was at my desk at the office the whole time.
Apparently the future looks like this, only better.
A world where transactions are seamless and happening at the speed of thought, whatever the reason, affording customers like me to have more time for the things we love.