While cyber cafes may be a luxury in the United States, they are a necessity in Nigeria where many people cannot afford their own computer set up at home.  We walked into this cafe owned by Idowu Salami and his wife.

There are 50 computer bays; each one full, with a room full of people in an adjacent room, awaiting their turn.

The mention of Nigerians and computers, unfortunately, brings to mind for many the so-called Four-One-Nine schemes.  Almost every computer user has received such an e-mail one.  They generally involve some African claiming to be the son of a recently deposed and dead dictator who  has lots of money stashed somewhere and the heir  needs the help of you mr/ms. guillible/greedy American  to help him get the money into the United States.

Many  Americans have fallen for these schemes, lost their money, and proceeded to complain loudly about those crooked Nigerians.

Idowu Salami, cafe owner, and Sam

The cafe owner, Salami said he's on guard against 419 schemers

We have a very open door policy. You can't do anything in this place without being seen.  The layout is very open.  And our staff is trained to pick up on these people.

He said it behooves cyber cafe owners to be vigilent because if a cyber scam is traced back to their cafe they could suffer.  He said he was unable to open for a week after his local provider was cutoff by the German company that was providing an uplink.  He said by the time he found another provider, he'd lost a lot of business.

He said he's been directly approached by whom he believed were 419 scam artists.

You can sort of tell.  They look shifting and on the edge.  WE had a guy who wanted to book for four systems all night for a month and he wanted to pay up front. I refused to take his money.

If you're going to spend 30 days browsing over night, that means that you're sleeping in the day and not going to work.  We have a family atmosphere here.  We don't engourage that kind of activity, Salami said.

At one point during our interview, as often happens in Nigeria, the power went out.  For several seconds, the light level dropped, the computer screens went black, and then everything came back on again.

What happens when you have a black out?  I asked Salami

He said has a generator that kicks in after 20 seconds.  Meanwhile he's also got a system in place that keeps power running to the computers so that viewers don't have to reboot or reenter.  Salami said for American or British cyber cafe owners, a back up generator is not a necessity, but in Nigeria where power fails severl times a day, it is a must.



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