The sector Head, Government at CWG Plc, Mr. Udukheli Izebuno during this exclusive interview speaks on how CWG is helping government with solutions that address power and public account challenges. He also urged government to see local content as a means of getting out of the present economy recession.
What are the CWG’s offerings for the government?
What we have done is to change the approach with which we used to do business with the government; from just selling devices to now giving government value and solutions that are changing the ways the government operates. What we do now is to diagnose government and find solution to its challenges. For instance, the government has been having issues with internally generated revenue, but we have been able to come up with a solution that guarantee efficient IGR collection. The solution helps government generate revenue and the same time allow the government to see the revenue generated. It also gives the government access to data that allows it to plan for the future. Secondly, you also discover that the government has been manually driven, where you see papers everywhere, so we decided to come up with a solution called Process Automation System. The system helps the government to automate its process from end to end, making the government service a lot better for the people. These solutions are the additional value of what’s currently subsist on government. At CWG, we also have the infrastructure to host data for any government ministry, agency or parastatal. It’s safer and cheaper to host these data locally. So what our solution does is to best serve the government so that the government can best serve the citizens. Before now, the government goes through a lot to deliver services to the citizen, but with an automated system, it becomes a lot easier to deliver services. A lot of leakage that lead to corruption would have been blocked.
Adoption of technology by government can be very slow most of the time; how have you been able to deal with this challenge?
When you sell value, people will buy value. So I believe that if we start thinking from the perspective of the client and sell value to them, they will definitely buy it. For instance, if the Ministry of Agriculture wants to make agriculture the mainstay of the economy, how do we help as a company? This is the question I want to answer; if you are going to solve a problem for the government, you wouldn’t have issues dealing with them. What we do here is to give answers to the pain of the government that would allow it to give quality service delivery to the people. We sell solutions to the problem, so the government cannot ignore us.
Is there any success story to tell of any particular solution that has helped the government?
There are many success stories to tell. As we speak right now, we are engaged in Kano State to help in the auto industry, especially with regards to third party insurance. Out of the 12 million estimated registered cars in Nigeria, only about three million have original insurance. This is because there is a proliferation of insurance companies that are not registered with NAICOM or NIA. So there are fake insurance papers everywhere. There is no organized system that allows getting insurance paper as a one stop shot with the ease of the client. So, we presently have a contract with the Kano State government via their Board of Internal Generated Revenue that helps to deal with this particular issue. What we have done for them is to have an IGR or what we called a Thrid Party Insurance platform in place. It is a digitized automated platform, where you can get your insurance papers with the assurance that if you have any claim, you can easily get it. The government is already seeing the dividend of having its citizens protected.
We also have an e-permit platform for the local government, which is presently at Nssuka local government. Eti-Osa local government in Lagos State has also acquired it. The e-permit helps citizen get quicker service, it blocks leakages and assures revenue for the local government. It makes the local government to know how much is coming from every source of revenue and will be able to know how the revenue has been spent too. It also gives the power to plan efficiently because it knows exactly what comes to the local government. We are also talking to the Ministry of Finance to deploy an accounting service; they want us to do standards that are accepted worldwide. We have given them the assurance that we can deploy a product, driven by local content in Nigeria by Nigerians. I have the proposition and we have gone far with it. We are hoping that they will buy into local content. This is key because we are not selling products for product sake, but an idea and a solution that would solve a problem.
CWG boasts of a solution that can address Nigeria’s power challenge, but it does appear nothing is working considering the fact that Nigerians still don’t have power.
Although, the government is involved as a regulator, monitor and implementor, there is an ecosystem. It’s not just about the government; there are other players involved. What we do is to look at the ecosystem to see how we can help government track power, which is in a direct relation to the people. Nigerians want to know the amount of power they consumed and pay for it. It shouldn’t be estimated billing. One of the reasons for estimated billing is because the Discos have the problem of power lost. They don’t have a trend of power usage per area, so they still continue to waste power. This is what we are addressing by bringing products that can track power usage in the country. With the solution, the Discos would be able to know the amount of power that can be given to a particular area, and the consumer too would be able to know the amount of power he has consumed. We have a device that can give access to the Discos to see what they can give out; it can track realtime online when there is an issue in the distribution channel. The solution allows Discos to quickly know if there is a power drop or outage and it can also indicate exactly the area where the issue happened.
Have you deploy the solution. How has it helped the power sector?
We are presently in pilot phases of deployment. We are doing the testrun in Kano presently. We are yet to get the result out for the public to see. It’s a fantastic solution, which I believe would change the power sector.
How receptive is government to these solutions?
The government of today is receptive to ideas that would make things happen. They want people that would bring ideas to the table that would change the way things are done. They are not looking for contractors. Because we are not contractors, the government has been receptive to us because what we giving them is value.
I am aware CWG was part of NgREN, what is the position now?
NgREN is relevant, but we are not just looking at NgREN as it was before no. We are looking at how it can expand the services to provide more capacity for the users. Discussions are ongoing to do that.
In this period of recession, how can your solutions, services and contribution help government pull the country out considering the fact that CWG is a big company with operations in four African countries?
The number one thing we should seek to do is to export our Intellectual Properties (IPs). The Oracle, SAP and Microsoft of this world started somewhere and they exported to other countries. The government must encourage local content development by promoting Nigerian products and services. We have Nigerians that can do as good as any other person in the world. Why can’t we promote these Nigerians with innovative ideas to be export quality and standard? Most governments in the West give grants and invest in local companies to boost them to become an export quality company. Technology is a very big untapped area as we speak. The government is today is doing quite well in some areas like the Abuja Technology Village; some eSummit has been held. NITDA, NOTAP and ONC are actively promoting the acquisition, knowledge transfer and technology distribution in Nigeria. This must be encouraged to continue, so that technology can be exported from Nigeria. Technology export is still very low in Nigeria; this is an area the country can get a lot of export and forex. CWG is in constant connection with these agencies and we are poised to a lot more together, so that a lot of technology can be exported.
What do you have at CWG that can be exported?
The power solution that we talked about can be exported. The solution for public accounting can also be exported. We have several solutions like the Diamond Y’llo account that can also be exported. All these solutions were initiated and done locally by CWG here in Nigeria. If the solution was deployed in the banks and it works perfectly, why can’t we export it? The ‘Buy Made in Nigeria’ slogan should be implemented across all sectors of the country’s economy. At CWG, we have a synergy with the SMEs centre to promote SMEs using technology. We are giving out an ERP solution that is cost effective and locally driven that is promoting SMEs in Enugu. Infact, the SMEs are surprised that there is a solution that they can get by paying in Nigerian Naira, which can help their business.