Nigeria printers lose out as ad campaigns go online

STORY: A loud whir fills the back of a print shop in Nigeria's capital Abuja as machines churn out grinning faces of presidential election frontrunners.

The country's election advertizing campaign season is in full throttle.

The run-up to a vote is usually a chance for small businesses like Shimatex Prints to cash in on election paraphernalia, ranging from hats and flip-flops, to tissue boxes and cooking oil labels.

But business has been slower than usual ahead of the February 25 vote as candidates have hinged more campaigning on social media.

Shimatex Prints CEO Joel Mtsor recalls busier periods around 2011, 2015 and 2019 polls.

‘'Printing wise no much different in our orders, just a little. Somebody will come and order a few souvenirs, a few campaign materials, a few billboards, but the impact on the print industry is not as huge as it was in previous elections.’’

Social media has been a key campaigning tool ahead of a poll in which almost 40% of registered voters are 34 or younger, according to electoral commission data.

And as Africa's most populous country, Nigeria is home to tens of millions of internet users, prompting candidates to compete for voters' eye-balls across popular social media platforms.

‘'The only thing that we have noticed is that there is a lot of hype on social media. Social media has played a lot of role in this election and I think because of also the level of youth participation.’’

However, not everything has moved online.

Parties still commission political regalia for rallies and other in-person campaign events.

Print shop owner Opeyemi Osho-Arilomo says there is no strange job for a printer.

"The most craziest of order for a printer is a good job."

Nigerians will vote for a new leader to replace President Muhammadu Buhari amid growing insecurity and economic hardship.