Here are Three Trends Presently Shaping GovTech Landscape
The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the majority of countries around the world. While some of the solutions proposed by governments have varied, when it comes to providing social, economic, and medical assistance, those with developed GovTech—a whole-of-government approach to public sector digitization—have generally been more efficient.
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of such systems, but as with any crisis, it has also left many pondering: how will GovTech evolve in the future?
Experts at NRD Companies, a global IT and consulting group of companies specializing in governance and economic digital infrastructure, have elaborated on how the landscape of GovTech might look like going forward.
The importance of developing e-government systems has not been overshadowed by the pandemic. In fact, the adverse conditions have only reinforced the need for GovTech solutions as countries seek to deliver their citizens an efficient way of accessing public services. With a deadly virus raging and travel restrictions in place, the crisis has opened up new opportunities for remote collaboration, which is no longer seen as an option, but rather as a necessary component for successful GovTech project implementation.
“As tools, processes, and software constantly improve, it has become possible to implement large-scale GovTech projects entirely remotely, regardless of location and time zones,” said Mindaugas Glodas, CEO at NRD Companies. “Of course, consulting and implementing projects remotely is significantly more complex than doing it the usual way, thus when choosing partners, countries should consider their experience in working with such projects. In any case, moving forward, remote work will stay with us even after the pandemic, as countries are becoming more aware of the benefits such methodology brings to the table.”
One such project involves Barbados, an island country in the Caribbean which has recently agreed, even amidst the pandemic, to take the first step toward digitizing the public sector. Working together with NRD Companies, the nation will implement a progressive e-services delivery platform entirely remotely, encouraging cooperation and data exchange between the public sector and the government by providing a Directory of Services and designated online spaces for citizens, businesses, and the government.
Shift to cloud
Multiple governments around the world still rely on physical, premise-based data centers. Such centers require careful management and are vulnerable to fire, smoke, moisture, flood, pollution, and data leakages. As governments receive more and more sensitive data, storing it in bare metal servers is becoming too risky to continue.
“The limitations of legacy systems are going to encourage a shift to cloud,” said Mr Glodas. “It is no longer safe and practical to store data on physical servers, especially when an increasing number of governments are choosing the digitization path. Going cloud is the next logical step as it provides more resilience, saves money and stimulates innovation.This has been happening for quite some time in the private sector, but the transition in the public sector is only accelerating.”
In particular, private clouds are now on the rise. In 2018, a study predicted that governments will shift to private cloud at twice the rate of public cloud through 2021. Since then, the German federal government, the French Ministry of the Interior and a few Swedish government agencies, among others, have transitioned to private cloud to ensure control and security.
Other countries choose similar cloud solutions. Partnering with NRD Companies, Anguilla, a British overseas territory in the Caribbean, will have its electronic system for the Commercial Registry implemented on a hybrid cloud—a combination of on-premises infrastructure, private and public clouds—to ensure availability in a cost-effective way.
Positive influence of electronic business registries
The private sector is crucial in the country’s fight against poverty through investment and job creation. Where an effective private sector is lacking, business registration reform has been shown to be one of the essential first steps toward improving the business environment and fostering private sector growth. The easier, faster, and cheaper the business registration process becomes, the higher number of businesses are in an economy.
“When local businesses flourish, they create jobs and generate income that can be spent and invested domestically,” said Ieva Tarailienė, Head of Registry Practice at NRD Companies. “And for the businesses to flourish, favorable conditions must be ensured by the government. This is where digitization can help tremendously—online business registries streamline the whole process of formally registering one’s business and at the same time level the playing ground. As long as governments continue developing online business registration registries, it is a no brainer that their economic segments will only improve.”
The benefits of electronic business registries are reflected in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking, which often acts as a guiding light for foreign investors. For example, Mauritius, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, has moved up 36 places during the last three years and is now ranked first in the Sub-Saharan region and 13th overall in the latest Doing Business ranking. This is mostly thanks to its paperless e-registry system, recently developed by NRD Companies, which allows businesses and citizens to use over 30 registries completely remotely.
FarmFix to Use Technology to Achieve Food Security
The Chief Operating Officer (COO) of FarmFix Investments, Damilola Oladehin, has said his company would use technology in achieving food security in the country.
FarmFix is an integrated farm and agro-allied business that is innovatively and technologically driven to, according to the management of the company, ensure food security and sustainable returns on investment for the stakeholders or investors.
During a virtual press briefing held from their head office in Ibadan, Oladehin said that their company, FarmFix focuses on the entire agricultural value-chain, investment, production, processing, trading and exporting.
He said, “FarmFix is a leading agribusiness offering diversified farm products, services and profitable projects. Our vision is to be a leading player in the agricultural industry space and investment destination for individuals and organisations that want to be involved in farming. Our mission is to increase the nation’s food security while creating wealth for her people.”
Speaking on the unique selling point of the company, he stressed that though it was true that many other agro-investment companies may have reneged on financial returns accrued to investors, especially those who were not directly involved in farming, FarmFix was poised to regain the trust deficit of agro-investors.
“Many companies have rushed into the business without any pedigree. They say they are in the business of rice farming but all they do is buy in small quantities and rebag for sale. At FarmFix, we are here to fix the problems mitigating against all stakeholders, especially investors.
“We have acquired various expanses of land around Nigeria for rice planting and have started harvesting in some of our farms, we are in partnership with a rice mill currently nearing completion and the business is fully insured by a leading insurance company in Africa.
“For us, our business starts from planting the seedling till it gets to the consumers’ tables. Our team is led by astute professionals whose industry leadership would be achieved through the integrity of our skilled and knowledgeable workforce.
“We foster a culture of personal and professional integrity characterised by trust, respect, and a spirit of partnership among employees and investors. Innovative and diversified services drive our continuing profitable growth while providing the scope and flexibility to accommodate the customised needs of our clients nationwide”, he said.
Also speaking at the event, the Business Development Manager, Bisi Adeyemi, highlighted the potentials of the agricultural market in Nigeria, Africa’s fastest growing and second largest economy.
He said that all activities necessary to bring about the transformation of Nigerian agriculture hinges on agribusiness spanning services from production, manufacturing of agro-inputs, packaging and distribution besides extension of credit facilities for agricultural investments.
He assured potential future investors that the company would guarantee its mandate by ensuring that quality of service and market expectation is fulfilled.
Glo Enriches Customers’ Experience With Glo Café
In line with its commitment to delivering value, National Telecommunications Company, Globacom has unveiled Glo café, a self-care application that offers customers a convenient self-service channel to manage their accounts.
Globacom, in a statement in Lagos, said that the newly repackaged app was designed to unify Glo services under one platform, thus empowering Glo subscribers to manage their mobile accounts hassle-free.
“It is a one-stop entertainment shop with unfettered access to a plethora of content covering video, music, sports, comedy, celebrity news and gist. The Glo Café is available for FREE on Web, Google Play Store and Apple App Store”. Glo said.
The company explained that its extensive research into the needs of customers, their understanding and requirements for a simple and time-efficient platform offering customer support underscored the need for the development of the app.
It added that “The launch of Glo Café is part of our efforts to deliver the best customer experience in the digital space and empower customers with a convenient, non-intrusive and 24/7 available channel of support. The self-care app is a simple, secure and convenient way for Glo mobile customers to access a whole host of functionalities- buying, sharing and gifting of data, borrowing credit and data, recharging any Glo account and paying postpaid bills, accessing Value Added Services (VAS), among other things”.
Glo customers will also have access to a world-class gaming portfolio, and easy access to customer support – including direct contact to call center executives, raising service-related requests, chatting with agents, etc, in addition to entertainment content including top-rated music, videos, comedy and sports.
Adebola Sanni: FinTech, Solution to Africa’s Financial Inclusion Problems
Financial inclusion and provision of sustainable energy is at a turning point in Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria. With a population of over 200 million, about 50 per cent of the total population live in rural areas, and only 39 per cent of those living in rural communities have access to electricity. This is in addition to over 40 per cent of the entire population who are financially excluded or underserved.
However, the proliferation of digital financial services in Nigeria – powered largely by growth in fin-tech companies – has catalysed an unparalleled increase in the current number of people with access to formal financial services, while further opening up opportunities to address power supply challenges across rural communities; a major feat instrumental towards achieving the broad Sustainable Development Goal 7. With over 200 fin-tech companies in operation within its borders, Africa’s largest economy has found a way to target and capture over 40 per cent of its financially excluded or underserved population.
In a conversation with Adebola Sanni, co-founder, Infibranches Technologies and the Group Head, Business Development & Partnerships at Swifta Systems and Services, she highlighted the growing awareness of the transformative power of fin-tech and how if properly harnessed can help address both problems of financial inclusion and the more pressing sustainability challenges in the area of affordable and reliable power supply needed to drive the growth of local economies.
“Fintech has increasingly provided innovative ways to address existing gaps in the availability, accessibility and use of finance particularly among the unbanked population. By leveraging the proliferation of technology, agent banking and mobile money solutions now offer affordable, instant, and reliable transactions, savings, credit across rural communities where no bank had ever established a branch. Similarly, about 75 million Nigerians who mostly fall within the financially underserved or excluded demography live without reliable electricity access as the existing electrical grid serves largely the country’s urban population.”
“We understand how pivotal the provision of sustainable power is to driving growth of local economies in rural communities and by extension the need to boost financial services penetration across these communities. These are both enablers for catalysing positive transformation and driving sustainable economic progress across the country.”
Adebola, a leading business strategist and technology consultant also said, “To address these challenges, we believe distributed energy solutions that leverage digital payments will open up opportunities to reach the underserved market at low cost.”
We partnered NGOs, including Shell Foundation, USAID, to extend agent networks together with off grid energy providers in 2019 where we set up about 200 agent locations across Nigeria, identifying communities across the rural and peri-urban regions with needs for both power and financial services. We also partnered renewable energy companies such as Green Light Planet (Sun King), D.Light Solar, Sosai, PAS BBoxx, Konexa to set up payment points necessary to expand access to highly subsidized power for such communities.
“This solution provides affordable home solar systems to rural communities with an affordable and convenient payment structure where beneficiaries pay as low as N500 (less than $2 dollar a month) which allows for people to pay off the cost in a year to fully own the solar equipment.”
Till date, over 400,000 people have been impacted across 22 States and 108 local government areas in Nigeria through various initiatives supporting energy access especially in rural areas. The addition of the ‘Solar Power Naija project’ by the Federal government initiative under the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) and managed by REA, for off-grid communities, will further expand energy access to 25 million individuals through the provision of Solar Home Systems (SHS) or connection to a mini grid. This is a good initiative to help expand energy access faster.
One of the success stories underpinning how providing innovative energy solutions can transform communities is the Havenhills mini-grid project in Kigbe community located in Kwali Local Government Area Council, Abuja. Before executing the project, the Kigbe community with geographical limitations had no electricity as they were completely off-grid. The project upon completion delivered a 20KW solar enabled mini-grid through 3km 3-phases and 1-phase grid lines to 145 homes, enabling them to power basic electrical appliances such as light bulbs, fans and TVs. The project also supports 5 local businesses including a barbing salon, grocery store and viewing center.
As part of creating sustainable economic empowerment, Adebola Sanni, who has strong passion for financial inclusion and energy access, has facilitated the implementation of a pioneer digital infrastructure that supports micro insurance, pension and savings providers and the first API infrastructure that aggregates renewable energy products and services making them accessible to any payment service providers, banks and other financial and non-financial institutions.
She is vastly experienced in driving growth, creating market focused products and providing innovative solutions to businesses in Financial Technology, eCommerce, Telco and Private/Publics sectors as well creating partnership opportunities for growth.
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