What are some of those things that attracted you to the TechLaunchPad initiative
We got contacted by the honorable minister of communications technology. I attended a meeting convened by the minister in Abuja to intimate the private sector of the ministry’s plans for the country.
The ministers’ objectives was in line with Exxon Mobil’s beliefs in terms of developing capacity in-country and enhancing local content. Obviously, talent does exists in Nigeria.
We strongly believe that a little push and encouragement will bring those talents out. We need to give them the opportunity showcase their skills and solutions.
What is your assessment of the process of selecting the finalists of the TechLaunchPad initiative
I think the team did a good job bearing in mind that there are quite a number of people from the private sector. We tried to put a fair process in place. The process was fair, competitive, open, and widely publicised. It was even on social media. We gave ample time to everyone interested in participating in the scheme.
There is this apathy for locally developed software solutions. Do you have plans to use some of these home grown software solutions in Exxon Mobil
There must be reason and basis for this apathy. When businesses buy software or hardware, it aimed at meeting a business need. In the past, some of these locally developed solution fall short of meeting those needs and expectations. With the kind of exposure this programme puts in place, local software developers will be aware of global standards and market needs. If they build these solutions in line with global best practice, there’s absolutely no reason not to buy from them. In fact, our preference now, in line with government local content policy is to identify and patronise locally developed products and solutions that meets our business needs.
Are you one of the mentors selected to support the winners of this initiative? What sort of support do you intend to provide to them?
Yes. The idea behind the mentoring programme is to provide that additional exposure to the participants, and give them insights into industry needs. The mentoring programme help them understand the process of creating a world-class solution. This is the value I intend to bring to this programme.
In your interactions with these local software developers, is there any software solution that really catches your attention
At this stage, it is still early to talk about this but I assure you there’s a lot of potential in this country.
There has been a lot of talk about innovation in the global IT industry. In your opinion, what particular innovation has really driven the IT industry and the Nigerian economy
There has been huge impact of IT and technology on the Nigerian economy. In the financial services industry, electronic channels has significantly improved service delivery in Nigeria. In the past, you had to queue up in the banking hall to get a tally number before you access funds. It was a rigorously, time-consuming process. But with the emergence of electronic channels such as the ATMs, PoS terminals, mobile banking and payment, it is easier and much more convenient to conduct financial transactions.
Analysts say the next phase of the telecoms industry will be broadband. They say it has the potential to create wealth for the economy. Do you think broadband will be critical for the oil and gas industry
Yes, broadband will certainly link the Nigerian economy with the rest of the world. Broadband is the next best thing. I implore the government to step up its efforts towards ensuring that Nigerians have access to efficient and affordable broadband services.
What’s your word of advice to local software developers n Nigeria
They should not limit their idea to their own capabilities. Forging strategic alliances in very critical to success in this space. They should broaden their horizon, find out the trends and opportunities out there. They should not try to re-invent the wheel. They should be aware of what the market needs and focus their energies towards developing solutions that meet global standards.
Are there other things the government can do to support local software developers
I think there’s need for more initiatives like this. Government needs to create the enabling environments for these local developers to thrive. We need to give them a little push in order to give them a fair ground to compete with their counterparts in other parts of the world. This sort of initiative should not be limited to software developers alone. Talent exist in various sectors of the economy.
Funding is a big issue for software developers. What can be done to assist them
There are lots of investors looking for viable areas to put their money. If they can build a good product, and are able to expose their solutions to the local and international market, people would be falling over themselves, begging to invest in the business.
I envisage a time were investors will be identifying the Google of tomorrow here in Nigeria. They should focus on developing a good product and most likely the financing will come for it.