14 Aug 2013

Ektiti State leading Nigeria in ICT

Olutoyin Oloniteru is Director-General for ICT, for Ekiti State in Nigeria

The Com World Series team caught up with Olutoyin ahead of the NigeriaCom conference and exhibition, taking place at the Lagos Oriental Hotel, Lagos, Nigeria, 17-18 September to find out a bit more about his experiences and focus at the event

Com World Series: How is your company positioned in Nigeria and what are its future objectives?

 Olutoyin Oloniteru: First, I will like to state that I work in the public sector, precisely, the Government of Ekiti State, Nigeria (Director-General, ICT, Ekiti State).
Ekiti State is being positioned (under the leadership of His Excellency, Governor of Ekiti State – Dr. John Kayode Fayemi, JKF) to become “the Bangalore of Africa” in Nigeria and the leading ICT driven State in the country. Our future objectives are:
a. To transform the economy of Ekiti State from an agrarian one a knowledge economy that is ICT driven one;
b. To establish an enduring and sustainable “Knowledge Area Zone, KAZ” as a foundation to drive innovations, research and development (ICT, Technology and others) in the State
c. To be the first State in Nigeria to effectively implement the National Broadband Plan with a fibre ring in our State Capital (Ado-Ekiti) and subsequently in all our local government areas – connecting with the Federal Government of Nigeria (and MDAs), partnering with the private sector and international development institutions among others
d. To become the defacto standard on which other States’ development in Nigeria will be benchmarked against through effective peer-review mechanisms (via the Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF), independent rating institutions etc
e. To become a self-reliant State through diversification of our economy into one that create jobs, produce ICT-based entrepreneurs and leading producer of software solutions & applications for the world; with minimal (manageable) and preferable – No Unemployment and/or Under-employment
f. To become a destination of choice as location for tourism, a technologically advanced state within Nigeria that is safe, secure, investment friendly, possessing well managed and maintained infrastructure – energy/electricity, water supply, transport infrastructure (road, rail and airport) and green environment
g. To become a developed information society with the highest quality of life among other States in Nigeria that is comparable to any advanced and developed country/nation around the world.

Com World Series: What do you think are the top 3 major trends that are affecting your business in the region in 2013?

Olutoyin Oloniteru: Three major trends that I think are affecting the operations of our government at Ekiti State (in the provision of quality service to our people) in Nigeria and West Africa sub-region in 2013 are:
1) Emergence and reality of availability, adoption, penetration and increasing services being deployed on mobile devices/smartphones (with positive implications – on education, health, commerce, agriculture, tourism and sociology of our society in terms of their makeup, culture-change and behavioural modification;
2) Requirements for clean, readily available and sustainable infrastructure – energy/electricity (to drive our ICT growth and industrialization), good road (to make our state accessible and production friendly and efficient
3) Security – Safe City Programme that is now possible due to realizable broadband initiatives and availability of ICT infrastructure – wireline and wireless.

Com World Series: What are the remaining challenges in terms of connectivity and quality of services in the region and which technologies are most likely to resolve these issues?

Olutoyin Oloniteru: The remaining challenges in terms of connectivity and quality of service in our State are need for more investment and implementation of fibre optic – based network, which will help to reduce cases of quality of service. Harmonization of and integration of programmes of various objectives of the State’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies – MDAs (such that the works of say, Ministry of Work, Bureau of Infrastructure, Ministry of Physical and Urban Planning, Ministry of Environment among others are harmonized and integrated to achieve common, well defined, directed and established government goals and objectives without conflicting one another) such that participation in our State’s economic development by the private sector becomes well structured, situated, informed and planned. The above consideration will ensure investment protection and security of critical infrastructure – both of the government and our private sector partners (i.e. Base Stations of Telcos and their Fibreline installed along our roads – close to water pipe line; and along construction sites of various kilometres of roads among others.
Work programmes harmonization of government MDAs and private sector partners and participants will also ensure that approval for right of ways (ROW) and issued in a timely manner, that it is reasonable, cost effective (without excessive cost to Telcos) and help to promote rapid rollout and expansion of communications and telecommunications network and infrastructure in our State, with the immediate, medium and long-term implication of helping to improve quality of service. For example, installation of additional base stations by Telcos and installation of fibreline (in congested and rural/previously underserved and unserved locations) will help to reduce congestions and provide for redundancy – all helping to improve quality of service (QoS).
In general therefore, what will resolve the issues of QoS is more than technologies – though technology pay a great part. We must look at processes, procedures, human factors etc in addressing QoS issues. If Fibreline gets cuts then you should expect a lot of downtime despite the technology being useful in addressing QoS issues. People and members of the public must understand that they are stakeholders in the QoS production process and should therefore help to secure Telcos’ infrastructure being used to provide services for them.

Com World Series: How are smartphones/tablets and cloud services impacting mobile/internet service providers in Nigeria?

Olutoyin Oloniteru: Please refer back to my response in Q 2(1) above. It follows therefore that with the penetration of; and increase in the use of smartphones/tablets in Nigeria – Internet Service Providers (ISPs) now have more revenue to generate including from the underserved and previously un-served market. With appropriate service pricing and business model following pay-as-you-go model in mobile Internet subscription it is evident now the substantial increase in the number of Internet users in Nigeria – most of which are via mobile devices.
Mobile service providers also include those operating in the e-payment industry i.e. mobile money service providers of which the Telcos are stakeholders. It means more revenue anyhow you look at it. Cloud services are also impacting mobile payment and ISP services for social network computing is become well understood and its use as a subscriber pull-and-push business strategy. Furthermore, a number of governments now use cloud computing and services to quickly jump start their entry into the cyberspace such as unified communication services – emails, voices, webhosting etc all done in the cloud. All these means more revenues for providers operating in this space. Nigeria with an increasingly growing population – and young population; it means viable market for mobile and Internet service providers in the country.

Com World Series: In your opinion, which companies are spearheading innovation in the region and what can be learnt from them?

Olutoyin Oloniteru: Some of the companies spearheading innovations in my region include ipNX Nigeria, which has provided unified communication and Internet services for our government and also a partner in our broadband and Digital Ekiti plan and strategy. Others are Dymore – which is very instrumental in the design and implementation of our Digital Media innovative platform including our www.ekitistate.gov.ng webs site. IBM has also been at the front through the deployment of IBM Experts and Volunteers from over 10 Countries around the world to work with our government on our various programmes such as e-School project, smartgovernment/e-workflow project and Citizens Information Management System (CIMS) project among others. Others are NIRA – Nigeria Internet Registration Association serious promoting the adoption and use of the .ng top-level domain in Nigeria by Nigerian and international companies with presence in Nigeria. As you can see above, our government official website uses the .ng domain, which we are proud of. Others still are SoftAlliance, Infinity System etc working to design and implement innovative solutions that help our government to increase its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) drive.
We are learning from them the various business models they have on offer and their thinking on engagement with the public sector, which is a non-profit sector. Business relationship with the public sector requires patience and assurance of purpose in terms of medium-to-long term strategy.  

Com World Series: Who are you most looking forward to meeting/hearing from and what do you hope to achieve from taking part in NigeriaCom?

 Olutoyin Oloniteru: I am looking to meet and hear from the entire industry. We are open minded, technology neutral and work based on strategy. As part of what I hope to achieve in taking part in NigeriaCom – communicate our and public sector strategy, framework, direction and public policy in respect of ICT and our upcoming Knowledge Area Zone to the industry and the opportunities that lie ahead. In particular, I want to be able to share our thought and ideas on Government-to-Citizens (G2C) Payment strategy.