SAP Nigeria, the local business unit of the German software maker, has told Technology Times that Nigerian policy makers should adopt e-government seen as “a non-negotiable requirement for national development.”
Aderinola Oloruntoye, Solutions Manager, Business Analytics at SAP Nigeria, told Technology Times in an exclusive interview at the sideline of ICTEL EXPO 2016 held recently in Lagos that “no government can make’ head way’ in its vision implementation without the full adoption of e-government system.”
[quote font=”georgia” font_size=”22″ font_style=”italic” align=”left” arrow=”yes”]“When there was Ebola, some people from Nigeria came to our office in Germany. Together with Nigerians, we innovated a solution for travelling and disease control. We did a pilot and analytics on how if there is any disease, a citizen can automatically from his mobile phone give in details, and it will be tracked in the control centre of disease in Abuja, or wherever it is. And automatically you can track the disease before it goes round. That pilot was successful, next was rolling it out. Up till now it has not been rolled out,” the SAP Nigeria official says.[/quote]According to the SAP Nigeria exec, “e-Government is non-negotiable. Every process of government must be digitized. That is the only way we would get better. That is the only way we would get development. e-government is a must, if not, we would not get anywhere in this country.”
Speaking further, he says that the “fundamental thing is development. Without e-government, we would not be able to acquire the data on the government processes either for health, or for justice, or for education or for whatever environmental planning, or any process of government. We would not be able to acquire what is happening.”
Oloruntoye believes that “things are happening, but we are not acquiring everything because there is no e-government platform to acquire it. So how will you be able to plan? How would you be able to budget? How would you be able to do research and people can innovate on how to solve the problem when there is even no data?”
He believes that a proper e-government platform will help us manage the processes around all these areas of government, hence data will be readily-available for analytics.
Speaking on the road ahead for the adoption and full implemtation of e-government policies he suggest that “government should have a proper master plan for e-government management and execute it.”
Relating to the Smart city initiative by the government, Oloruntoye recommended that government need to focus on the basics, saying there is need to focus more on the e-government platform before we can realise the Smart city plan.
“I think we should start from the basics. First and foremost automate your government processes across all ministries. Let’s first start from there, and then we can go advanced to interconnected city and Smart city. Let us have data first and foremost,” he tells Technology Times.
While speaking earlier at the plenary session of ICTEL EXPO 2016, Oloruntoye says that some challenges Nigerians suffered from in the past as a result of poor or lack of digitization.
“When there was Ebola, some people from Nigeria came to our office in Germany. Together with Nigerians, we innovated a solution for travelling and disease control. We did a pilot and analytics on how if there is any disease, a citizen can automatically from his mobile phone give in details, and it will be tracked in the control centre of disease in Abuja, or wherever it is. And automatically you can track the disease before it goes round. That pilot was successful, next was rolling it out. Up till now it has not been rolled out,” the SAP Nigeria exec says.
According to him, “we have had the disease for tomato. We wouldn’t have suffered losses up to about $400 million in Nigeria on tomato if that one had been rolled out in 2014. We have Lassa fever killing people. I’m sorry, but I’m concerned, and I think we have to make a strong case here. e-Government is non-negotiable. Every process of government must be digitized. e-Government is a must, if not we are getting anywhere in this country.”
Also speaking at the event, Professor Olufade Onifade of Computer Science department, University of Ibadan, believes that Nigeria has very few data scientists in the country which he said is responsible for the slow growth of data analytics in the country.
According to him, the reason for few data scientists in the country is because Nigeria does not have focused thinkers within the country who could come up with ideas and launch out.
[quote font=”georgia” font_size=”22″ font_style=”italic” align=”left” arrow=”yes”]According to him, the reason for few data scientists in the country is because Nigeria does not have focused thinkers within the country who could come up with ideas and launch out.[/quote]“We do not have focused thinkers, people with intuition, people who are ready to launch out into the dark. We are all afraid of the dark box,” he tells the ICTEL EXPO 2016 attendees.
According to Onifade, people need to be reoriented. “We should look inward to see what are the gaps that need to be filled. So it starts from you and I, not necessarily the government.”
He said even if data is made available, people need to know how to manage it, and that as much as big data is good and useful for development, it can also be destructive to the user.
On big data, the university lecturer has this to says: “How do you keep it, how do you manage it. Who have access to it, and who does not have access to it, that is the problem. The bigger the data, the more problematic it is. Having to cope with big data means you need to enforce a lot of security and access level. So if you do not do that well, it’s going to hrut you, and probably send you out of the market. Because somebody else could make use of it.”
He however advised that Nigeria should think out how big data can be used when its being made available, adding that ”it’s not how data is available, but how well it is put to use.”
According to him, “your size sometimes can become a liability. It is not enough to be big as a data, or to have big data, it is much more important how much of data can we articulate to maximize whatever you want to do with it.”
“What you see is how far you can go. Data would always be available. It is no longer the days of ‘we couldn’t get data’, you want anything, ask for it you will get it. There will always be data. It is not about the size, it is about what you can do with the size,” he said.
He therefore opined that people must be ready to think into modern situation and become data scientist to in order to provide solutions to data management, saying it does not matter what a person reads in the university, but the level of intuition one can put in place to use the available data to make a difference.
“It is not because of what you read, it is about the level of intuition you can put in place. It is not the job of a computer scientist, a mathematician, a data programmer or whatever. The driving force behind data science is intuition. People who could ask the question; Why, What, Where, When. That is why data scientist are not widely available,” Prof. Onifade said.
“We really have to leave that path and be ready to do what is expected of us, or else we won’t get anywhere. Like I said, it is not what you read, it is your level of intuition, so if you are intuitive, welcome onboard. It is that spirit of a kid that can not stop asking the question: why. You have data all around you, but as good as it i, you must learn how to use it, or else, it is useless, or even harmful,” he adds.