OoTheNigerian

sometimes, I make a lot of sense.

Tag Archives for: Abuja

Mark Zuckerberg’s Visit. Between Lagos and Abuja.

03 September 2016 by Oo Nwoye

To preempt the 30th call and 100th message. Yes, I saw Zuckerberg. In Aso Villa, Abuja. No opportunities to picture. No space for conversations.

After the event, I saw first hand “big” men & women jumping stool to take picture. I even used my hand to block the CEO of a multi national who wanted to squeeze through. “Guy, calm down” I said to him 😂😂

The good thing about Aso Rock especially when a bigger man is around is, it becomes neutral ground. Men whose subordinates you’d happily wait hours to see become your equals.

After a while though, my guy signalled to me and we left the rowdiness.

Zuckerberg looked REALLY uncomfortable in the setting of politicians and was overheard saying “can we leave now? “.

Contrast that with the Lagos crowd where “small boys and girls” had great access and respect interacting with him. He felt quite comfortable with fellow comrades.

He clearly prioritizes the startup crowd. Which is good. Very good. 

Watching politicians and “big” people scramble to associate with a 32 year old boy they would not have allowed to blossom here in Nigeria filled me with shame and joy at the same time.

Then I realised that these people still do not get it. The young man they adore had subtly given a nod to where he knows the future lies. Iyin told them to their faces but they still cannot get it. A retired bank CEO would still be struggling to be the next Zuckerberg 😂.

Anyway, this long note is to explain to my many friends who somehow are sad they did not see me with Zuckerberg. Though I don’t get it, I really tried to get a selfie for y’all but it was just too rowdy. No be because person wan chop meat e go begin dey call cow broda.

Finally, tech is where the new power is if it was not clear before, it is now and I’ll keep trying to do my bit to ensure we get it.

I have to give a nod to Bosun, Femi and team who have built Cc Hub, which I believe singular most important factor that crystallized our techosystem.

 

PS: We will still address what we REALLY think of Mark’s visit to Nigeria.. sorry Sub saharan Africa, let us first milk and savor the benefits. There is a time and place for everything. besides, I am a criticism break. 

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Aso Villa Demo Day. Hm…

15 August 2016 by Oo Nwoye

Aso Villa Demo DayThese days, If one writes, they’ll say this trouble maker don start again. So I kept quiet on Aso Villa Demo Day (a day to showcase to the President the best of Nigerian technology).

However, this morning, the thought came to me, “Wait o… we have been clamoring for Bubu to take tech seriously, therefore this Aso Villa Demo Day is our one chance to  ‘convince him’ that tech is the future and that we here in Nigeria have the capacity to deliver on the promise.”

To the best of my knowledge, non comrades of our techosystem (I know, sounds so entitled and arrogant) have the mandate to decide our representatives. How we are viewed by the highest level of government depends on them. They are our representatives to the President. 

So looking through the list, I could see less than a handful of startups like GRIT Systems and RedBank folks tackling huge and important problems.  I could also see a number of “normal startups” e.g a different permutation of ecommerce startups you’d find in Lagos.

Looking further however, I see stuff like Egusi Soupe. And many other ”ideas” most likely thought off the cuff. I doubt much more than the pitching time was allotted to these ideas. Their only entries in Google search is from the press releases sent to various media outlets.

So how have these representatives of  Nigeria’s Tech possibilities been chosen? And by who? And with what criteria?

I would think if we’re pitching tech to the highest level of the country, we should be going for greatest impact. We should play our very best cards. Which I’d interpret as startups with the most feasible chance of directly impacting a minimum of 1 million people or creating/saving a minimum of a billion dollars. 

A second thing I’d champion if we in the techosystem had this opportunity would be to go out and recruit beyond the people that applied. For instance, I should expect a Tryctor, WeCyclers, something on the future of education, financial Inclusion etc to be among this list.

Finally, I would there should be a clear and realizable outcome from this rare August (september?) meeting with the President. Every startup should have their one ask which we would expect the President to mandate/champion instantly. This should instantly eliminate every “idea only”  entries which belong to hackathons and business plan competitions.

But what do I know?

I’ll conclude by referencing a favorite admonition of my man Bubu. 

“You Nigerian Technology Press should do more investigative journalism. Ask questions. Prod around. Basically, do your jobs. You’re the fourth estate”.

PS: I don’t intend to be harsh or overtly critical which is why I have my recommendations within the post. Hard questions must always be raised especially when it comes to government. No vex.

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Remita, TSA and Four Questions Arising

17 November 2015 by Oo Nwoye

With the full implementation of the TSA policy by the Buhari Administration, SystemSpecs a Nigerian technology company has been accused of swindling the country of billions of Naira using Remita, a product of the company.

The aim of this blog post is to explain Remita’s role in the implementation of the TSA and try to highlight where the issues have come from and ask some pertinent questions.

First, some background information.

TSA, which stands for Treasury Single Account is a policy that intends to consolidate all government revenues in a single account. The idea is, whether you are paying N100 for injection in UBTH (University of Benin Teaching Hospital) or buying crude oil with hundreds of millions of dollars from NNPC, or paying NTA for adverts, all the monies would be domiciled directly into a single account at CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria)

Why is this necessary? This is to avoid situations whereby, administrators of various agencies (UBTH, NNPC and NTA in our examples) from having direct control over the money collected by their agencies. If they need money, they will have to apply to get it from the CBN account. No more dipping hand into the government purse to do “thanks for coming”

Remita, The Chosen One.

Before the TSA implementation, each of the government agencies decided where to open accounts to keep these government revenues and HOW to collect the monies. So the CMD (Chief Medical Director) of UBTH could decide to open 10 bank accounts for UBTH in 5 different banks after a lot of lobbying had been done by branch managers etc, NNPC could have another 20, NTA another 15. This is also where allegations of “fixing money” for interest used to come from.

The implementation of the TSA policy (enshrined in the constitution) was piloted by the Jonathan government. Only a few MDAs (Ministries, Departments and Agencies) like the FIRS were chosen to pilot this system.

For the pilot, SystemsSpecs built a product called Remita that could be used to collect and collate money through multiple channels and was chosen to be the software to be used for this collection.

That is the first issue

Sunk Costs and Competition.

There are 2 ways people usually pay for things in Nigeria either with cash deposits at the bank or cashier points, or using a credit/debit card at a POS or online.

BEFORE the TSA implementation, each MDA set up individual systems for collections. Companies like Interswitch, ETranzact, SocketWorks, etc (which primarily do online/digital collection) already spent LOADS of money trying to get the contract to give them the right to collect money on behalf of these agencies. In some cases, they had to build infrastructure in these MDAs (computers, Internet, Generator etc) to make their work easier.

SocketWorks for instance collects money on behalf of Immigration, Interswitch on behalf of many Hospitals and Schools etc, Same with ETranzact. And we are not including “other costs” of doing business in Nigeria. SystemSpecs also had a few customers.

The Buhari then put a deadline for the TSA implementation.

The CBN rationally decided to use the provider and product that had run the pilot system and that was SystemsSpecs’ Remita.

All of a sudden from sharing the spoils of various MDAs, all the other providers lost all those customers and commissions to “one Remita of a somebody”

All their hustle, down the drain.

That is the second issue.

Commissions and Payments

When a person or an entity collects money for you, it is the norm for the person to be paid part of the proceeds to collect and reconcile that money. For online payments, there are many players who share the ~2% fee that is charged the merchant. For cash payments, it is less standardized but it can be up to say 5% of each transaction.

So of the 1000 naira you pay to UBTH via Interswitch’s WebPay or PayDirect, they take ₦20. By the same calculation, if you pay ₦1 Million, they are entitled to ₦20 000. However, there is usually a cap on the amount of commission on each transaction.

Thought Remita transaction charges are capped even on their website, it seems the deal with the federal government is 1% uncapped.

That is the third issue

Double Charging

BEFORE the full implementation of TSA, monies had already been collected. So let us assume UBTH had ₦1 Billion in a Unity Bank account somewhere, they were given a deadline to transfer that money to the TSA domiciled with CBN.

Note that money in Unity Bank was ALREADY less the commissions paid to collectors like Interswitch.

In transferring that money to CBN, it is alleged that the Banks rather than using NIBSS (Nigerian Interbank Settlement System, a company owned by CBN and the Banks) and paying next to nothing, decided to do it through Remita who would take an uncapped 1% (25 million in this example) for doing absolutely nothing.

That is the fourth issue

In summary, here are the questions arising that are causing problems.

  1. How was SystemsSpecs/Remita chosen to be the sole collector for the Federal Government? Was the Procurement Act followed?
  2. What happened to the existing systems that were put in place especially the ones that had long term arrangements and high setup cost?
  3. How monies are ALREADY in the system (bank accounts) be transferred to the CBN account?
  4. As for the collection, what is the commission taken my SystemsSpecs? Is it (un)capped?

Those are the main issues from what I understand from all parties. Of course aw with politics, there people are mixing up issues to sell their agenda.

That Remita stands for Remi Tinubu Ahmed as much as Jega stands for Jonathan Ebele Goodluck Azikiwe.

My Comments.

  1. For once, it is a good thing that an indigenous company is being used for such a project.
  2. It is understandable if the Federal Government decides to use a single provider/system for the collection of taxes and revenue. However, it could be a big risk to have one single entity doing everything from Customs to Schools to FIRS.
  3. There should be a transparent procurement process for the service provision and more than one provider chosen.

Fun facts

People are usually crying that Interswitch is the bully. It is interesting to see Interswitch crying foul.

Remita actually uses Interswitch’s WebPay for the online collections part of the as a middleman for the online payments aspect. As at yesterday when I checked, it was no longer working.

Coincidence?

 

Thanks Boro for reducing the typos. 

4 comments | Categories: Nigeria, Technology | Tags: , , , , , ,

Tomato Jos’ Mira is Showing True Hustle.

16 May 2015 by Oo Nwoye

Tomato Farmers (except the wannabe fresh boy Uzoma holding the hoe). Mira is bottom right.

While million of Nigerians claim “no work” American HBS Alumni, Mira Mehta left the US to hustle tomatoes in Nassarawa.

She is founder of Tomato Jos

When she cleans out in the forthcoming agrarian revolution you’ll begin to hear them lament “because she is oyibo” and rally for “patriotic protectionism”.

Presently, I am in so much awe with here bravery in a country where we, the pseudo elites refuse to live anywhere outside our semi town cites.

NYSC has given Nigerians the opportunity to discover opportunities outside where fate and education placed them but they will cry until they have been reposted to Abuja or Lagos.

Mira is the role model young Nigerians need.

Still on the topic of the farming hustle, this is a great nairaland thread you should peruse.

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