Publishing in Nigeria: The Biggest problem is distribution – Adesuwa Onyenokwe

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ENTERPRISE54 – With more than a dozen magazine covers jostling with various online publications for public attention, while vendors litter the streets of Lagos, Adesuwa Onyenokwe, Publisher of TW Magazine and a Mara Mentor, says the biggest problem with publishing in Nigeria is distribution.


Globally, increased competition with digital media has seen print media forced to supplement their platforms with websites as technological innovations threaten to silence hardcopy newspapers completely.   According to the 2013 The State of the News Media Report, the total traffic to the top 25 news sites increased 7.2% in 2012. And according to Pew Research data, 39% of respondents got news online or from a mobile device “yesterday,” up from 34% in 2010, when the survey was last conducted, indicating patterns of audience growth on digital platforms.

Onyenokwe, who was recently discussing the dynamics of media enterprise on the Mara Mentor Talk Show, however voiced optimism towards Nigeria’s publishing industry, stating the need to break the cycle of traditional distribution and recognise the need to supplement print media with the innovations of new media as important to business success.

Addressing issues surrounding the business of publishing in Nigeria, Onyenokwe said prospective media entrepreneurs should adopt creative ways to deal with the challenges that come their way. According to her, TW Magazine launched a website and app to supplement its print version, thus aligning with the proliferation of digital devices in peoples’ lives.

She also implored young entrepreneurs to take time to learn and understand industries completely before going into business. “If you live in a neighbourhood and something about it bothers you, then maybe that’s where your business lies,” says Onyenokwe.

But as more Nigerians get access to the web, new media is increasingly gaining ground with citizen journalism on social media and mobile apps, while blogs and websites continue to gain traction and amass a significant size of advertising budgets.  Newspapers and magazines, on the other hand, are seemingly stuck on the wrong side of the McLuhan’s famous Theory of Technological Determinism, which predicts more emphasis on digital media as the world advances.

However, Onyenokwe believes the key to transforming the fortunes of print media businesses in Nigeria perhaps lies with changing the sector’s distribution mechanism, which is still largely characterised by road-side hawking and the ubiquitous free readers association.



Douglas Imaralu is a writer and international relations and diplomacy scholar, with significant experience in online journalism and content production. He was the former Online Editor at Ventures Africa and current Communications Manager at Mara Mentor, an initiative of Mara Foundation


  1. Telema

    November 28, 2014 at 11:05 am

    Love the direction of the interview. Though not much given on the non-traditional distribution mechanism to adopt for the Nigerian market. Yet good insight.

  2. Telema

    November 28, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    Had to read this piece all over after making further studies particularly on ‘The State of the New Media Report’. I wonder why the authour made reference to the 2013 study when the 11th edition of the report is available with updates. Just curious. Meanwhile,in spite of the peculiarities of both markets (Nigerian & U.S), they do share several similarities. However,its difficult to see if they’ll ever be a strong comeback for the print (newspapers & magazines) in Nigeria given that as we speak,their collective performances have been dismal.

    Perception and not just distribution,is a major challenge for the market. The distribution mechanism can be solved regardless of timeline. But the perception of ‘potential’ target buyers is in itself the greatest problem the industry is faced with. When purchase of newspapers and/or magazines is perceived as luxury,then you know we’re on this journey for the longhaul.

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