ChamsCity is a digital cafe located in Lagos Nigeria and billed to be the largest in not just Africa, but the entire world, as certified[*] by Guinness World Records. The Lagos location has 1000 computers, while the previous record holder in New York only has 850. The mother company, Chams PLC, intends a series of cyber malls across Nigeria, with an Abuja location already completed.
ChamsCity has a capacity of over 2,000 biometric and multimedia systems which will be used to manage public identity and provide personalized online services for governmental and private entities. The Assistant General Manager, Sola Bickersteth, expanded on some of the future capabilities of the new cyber center saying,
"The ChamsCity network of digital malls creates a platform that can be used to capture fingerprints and pictures of each individual which is then tied to their mobile phone numbers. This will eliminate instances of impersonation prevalent in our society today because each system has an inbuilt camera which makes it possible to record the activities of each individual as they conduct an exercise."
"Individuals can register as Chams Citizens to access an unlimited array of facilities such as basic internet browsing, self improvement, online certification testing, e-learning, and web conferencing at affordable costs."The cyber center enables online testing and learning in Lagos for 10,000 individuals daily and aims to partner with schools.
"A special membership package is available for students whose schools are registered with ChamCity, they will have an opportunity to compete to win prizes and travel to represent Nigeria and their school in several upcoming computers based international competitions starting from February through the summer of 2009."ChamsCity is also working with the Federal government to finger print every Nigerian citizen and create a new identity card system.
This is definitely another step by Nigerians to advance the country and bring it closer to the forefront of the digital revolution. The fact that this is a privately owned entity and that it will make internet access possible around the country is a positive that will have exponential benefits for Nigerians. Those benefits will hopefully span various areas such as health care, education, agriculture, business and entertainment, to name a few.
It is also significant that this first cyber center of its kind was launched in Lagos State. Lagos is working to transform itself into an international financial metropolis and this is just one of many innovative achievements accomplished under the watch of Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola. Fashola also recently unveiled a 10,000 security camera project to improve safety in Lagos State. That, coupled with ChamCity's biometric plans could definitely make Lagos a safer place and thus more welcoming for business, domestic and foreign.
However, there are some concerns to be considered. What provisions are in place to prevent the abuse of information collected by ChamsCity? How will the company prevent information from being stolen and used by criminals? Furthermore, it is hard to ignore the Big Brother-esque nature of ChamsCity and its plans. Although it is a private business, it is partnering with the Nigerian government which could open the door to the abuse of information belonging to individual citizens. Given the federal government's history, past and the very recent present, at ignoring constitutional rights, and the continuing corruption plaguing the country, it is worrisome to think that the federal government will have that much information at their finger tips.
* - Nigerian Curiosity has not yet verified that Guinness World Records certified ChamsCity as the largest cyber cafe.
Hattip to Happy Lagosian
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