By PRINCE OSUAGWU
The role Information and Communications Technology plays in the stability of world economies resonated again recently in Nigeria.
In fact participants at the last Annual General Meeting of one of Nigeria’s leading identity management and payments system company, Chams PLC, declared openly that but for ICTs, Nigeria’s economy may have not achieved whatever solid footing it has today.
That also became a reason they called on the federal government to remain consistent in championing programmes and innovations that will keep governance on the threshold of ICT.
Most remarkably, some participants commended all level of governments on the ongoing identity assurance programmes being executed in the private and public sectors across Nigeria, saying it will strengthen businesses, ensure future growth and fuel increased profitability in the long term.
It was the Chairman of Chams PLC, Mr Ayo Richards, who stoked the fire when he declared that “Information and Communications Technology ICT, has become a key driver of economic activity in Nigeria and other developing markets.
However, there is remarkably, a huge gap to fill in the identity management infrastructure and solutions space which is our area of focus. Without filling this yawning gap, the payments transaction industry and economy at large cannot thrive.”
He added that the identity assurance needs of the financial services industry, state governments, tertiary institutions, and specialised government agencies are the catalyst of the rapid growth in the issuance of identity cards and registration of citizens for record-keeping purposes.
“There are many government-driven identity assurance programmes going on in Nigeria currently and they are with biometrics, one of our areas of specialty.
We have the national identity programme by National Identity Management Commission NIMC, and the Know-Your-Customer biometric registration programme for bank customers, as well as residency and smart identity card programmes being championed by some state governments. As a leading player in the identity assurance space, we are engaged with governments and relevant agencies to provide these identity management products and services.
The demand for identity management services will continue to grow due to increasing financial inclusion, ongoing implementation of CBN’s cashlite policy and digitization of commerce, presenting future growth opportunities not only for us as a business but to the aggregate Nigerian economy”
Yet, from discussions at the meeting, there may still be stunted growth if the federal government does not fix the issue of inadequate and unstable power supply.
Presenting the overall performance of Chams in the 2013 financial year, Group Managing Director of Chams PLC, Mr. Ademola Aladekomo, said that the company would have achieved more had the power situation in the country remained a bit improved.
He said that “In spite of cost pressures and infrastructure challenges, especially in the area of power, Chams improved its 2012 performance by focusing on the core business of identity management and payments solutions in the 2013 financial year.
We streamlined our business operations by investing on non-core functions such as the sales of payment card printers, access control and point of sales terminals in Chams Access Limited, a subsidiary of Chams PLC.
“Priorities remain clear for the 2014 financial year, and they include upgrade of our card personalisation bureau to EMV certified standard, strengthening the strategic alliance with our partners in South Africa and Israel, and the achievement of 300 per cent profit growth. We are also determined to complete our ongoing restructuring across Chams Group, while also dedicating our energy towards delivering value to all stakeholders.”