-Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem CEO, Teledom Group.
Meet the Boss By Onome Amawhe
Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem is the immediate past Board Chairman of the Nigerian Export Processing Zone Authority (NEPZA), an agency saddled with the responsibility of licensing and regulating Free Trade Zones (FTZ) in Nigeria. Before then, he was National President of the Association of Telecommunication Companies in Nigeria. Dr Ekuwem also served as President of Nigeria Internet Group. In his current endeavour as Chief Executive Officer of Teledom Group, an indigenous conglomerate with expertise in broadband information and ICT, his focus is to help enhance good corporate governance, engender prosperity and national well-being.
FOR what purpose was Teledom Group established?
Teledom Group is an indigenous conglomerate company with expertise in broadband Information and Communication Technology (ICT). We specialize in infrastructure development, deployment of software development for automation of national socio-economic activities, which could help boost productivity. To this end, Teledom designs and oversees implementation of smart cities, towns, campuses, airports and seaports.
We also design industrial and science parks, smart buildings and complexes. We have tremendous capabilities and versatility in telecom engineering, information technology and telecom peripherals instrumentation. Our vast expertise is a resource tool for both Teledom Group and the larger society.
With the worsening recession, government is now seeing agriculture as one of the ways to diversify the economy. Can ICT solutions guarantee us higher productivity in this sector?
Currently, our agriculture is mainly rain feed and which is largely dependent on rain. With ICT, we can move to an advanced stage of agriculture for export like other advanced countries by using modern technology. For example, every crop has its best planting period based on data.
So, we can use this technology to know various crops and their best planting seasons to enhance maximum yield. This type of technology is known as ICT agro-vision. This agro-vision system allows planting the best crops on the best soil. ICT agro-vision also provides farmers with the right type of land and appropriate crops to grow on a particular soil. Nigeria can feed the world; if the ICT agro-vision system is embraced.
Have you taken cognisance of the fact that we have a population of over 170million?
The issue of our population should not arise in ICT development because China has a larger population, yet China is among the biggest economies in the world. India is emerging on global stage because it has developed its science and technology. ICT enables you to fast track socio-economic development.
South Korea has broadband everywhere because they are developing their ICT. When Barack Obama became President of the United States, he provided broadband in rural communities to boost productivity, which is what gives them competitive advantage in economic growth and development. That is why America is called super power, because with ICT infrastructure in every town, they have tremendous capacity to access knowledge effortlessly.
As it is; what do we manufacture and export as a country to earn foreign exchange? What is the level of demand and supply? Nigerian contents include hardware, software, ICT infrastructure and integrated technology that can enhance collective technology solution for sustainable development.
If state capital is encouraged to develop its content, there will be no need to bring people from abroad to do the jobs Nigerians can do. Nigerian content development include, content patronage, protection and projection (CPPP).
This implies that when our locally made goods are used, patronage increases, job opportunities come for our local people and we strengthen the naira, which is our local currency. But buying goods from abroad strengthens the dollar and weakens the Naira; it creates jobs abroad while our own system is weakened with unemployment crisis.
A typical example is the financial system in Nigeria. Today, we enjoy banking services because the processes are fully automated. The banking industry is adequately utilising ICT in daily transactions.
For instance, before now, we lacked inter-bank services and people were carrying cash everywhere for businesses. Today, with ICT, the economy is cashless. We have credit cards, on-line payment for goods and services. These are the innovations that have enhanced security in the financial system. The banking sector must be commended for dedicated utilisation of ICT.
As an advocate of the use of ICT for job and wealth creation, poverty reduction and youth empowerment, what do you think government can do to rejuvenate the entire economy?
For President Muhammadu Buhari to succeed in diversifying the economy and for Nigeria to move away from the stage of primary production, the same ICT automation must go to manufacturing, agriculture, the real sector, education, health and national security to curb terrorism. We need smart classrooms with internet where students can use laptops and lectures are recorded for playback.
For example, a lecture delivered live in 2015 can be shown in future to make revision easy because it is recorded. With ICT, delivering lectures from different Universities with various books can be linked live through video conferencing, such that an author of a text book used for a particular lecture can speak from America or any part of the world to students in Nigeria.
Our hospitals need ICT infrastructure to create a synergy in the health sector. With automated processes, we can achieve cross checking of medical services, especially from experienced medical experts to remote rural areas of the country. Our campuses and schools can be secured for learning with automation of processes. With ICT connectivity, we can get criminal data based connectivity for police stations across the whole of Nigeria, such that serial offenders are easily caught.
We need data connectivity for Navy, Customs, Immigration and other security agencies to make our economic environment safe for investments. With ICT infrastructure, the Navy can secure our territorial waters, the Customs can monitor what comes into the country through the borders and Immigration can easily curtail influx of foreigners into our country.
We can attract more Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) if there is stability. Security is among the important factors investors consider in putting their money in any economy. Also, our banks, national population commission and other agencies ought to be on the same platform of inter-connectivity.
Platform of inter-connectivity
ICT connectivity is important in hotels to check criminal activities. We can equally have ICT connectivity at airports, the runways and within the scanning centres to check influx of offensive items into the country.
Today, a lot of innocent citizens are living behind bars with iron burglaries on their door and windows while criminals are walking freely. If the amount we used in erecting fences across the country for security had been pumped into housing, the housing problem in Nigeria would have been solved since. With ICT solution, the President can stay in Aso Rock and view what is happening nation-wide.
The nation’s ports are said to be the most strategic in export promotion. How can government develop the ports to enhance huge volume of export trade, especially now that the economy is in recession?
This can easily be done with the provision of ICT infrastructure to allow trade facilitation. Everything about billing as well as other processes can be automated with data for immediate result. Doing this will create a synergy between government agencies operating at the ports. All the jetties and inland waterways should be covered with ICT display points to enhance efficiency in our the system.