Governor Kayode Fayemi
As part of the efforts to promote e-payment solution in governance, Ekiti State, last week, launched the state’s Integrated Digital Media Channels, designed to boost efficiency in governance and to provide access to Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in the state, reports Emma Okonji
Governor Fayemi’s ICT Vision
Re-stating government’s eight point agenda for development, Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi who spoke at the launch of the state owned integrated digital media channels last week in Ado Ekiti, said the state would continue to leverage on ICT to boost efficiency in governance and to provide ICT access to the people of the state.
According to Governor, "As part of our vision for Ekiti State, we are set to use ICT to boost economic development in the state, and we are deploying biometrics infrastructure for payroll efficiency. We have also entered into partnership with Samsung West Africa to boost computer acquisition and digital literacy for civil servants in the state. We are also using IT to run governance as well as working to do telemedcine while making our state a call centre hub in the country, riding on the fibre optic cable that would bring up to 45 megabyte of internet capacity into the state."
Speaking on the gains in deploying e-payment solution in the state, Fayemi said the introduction of electronic payment (e-payment) solution in the state in 2010, jerked up the state’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) by 466 per cent monthly in the last one year.
The state's IGR increased from a monthly N109 million in 2010, when the current administration came to office to over N617million as at December, 2011, representing a whopping 466 per cent increase in revenue generation, the Governor said.
According to him, greater success has been recorded in the implementation of its electronic receipt scheme for collecting IGR, adding that it has significantly improved the state's IGR in almost five-fold and has blocked leakages in governance.
Making Ekiti a Digital State
Fielding questions from journalists shortly after the launch of the state’s Integrated Digital Media Channels, Special Adviser to the Governor on Infrastructure and Public Utilities, Mr. Kayode Jegede said “The vision of the Governor is to make Ekiti State a replica of what Bangalore is to India.”
He added, “There are many things the state needs to do in order to create the Bangalore of India in Ekiti State. We need physical infrastructure, power, high speed Internet access, human capacity development, among others. One thing that gave India so much opportunity to catch up with technology development is that they speak English and in Nigeria we speak Queens English, which is of course an added advantage because we can communicate with the whole wide world.
“Ekiti is known for fountain of knowledge and we have all the enabling factors that will make the state create a Bangalore in Nigeria. All we need do is to put the enabling factors together to produce the desired results and we have been working on that for some years past.
“We have already gone into partnership with some Information Technology (IT) companies and we have decided that the hub of our IT development dream will be in Ekiti State University. We are putting finishing touches to the whole process and in few months time like the Governor rightly said in his speech, and the state will be in a comfortable position to launch the first phase of her ICT Industrialisation Initiative”.
Digital Preparation for Human Capacity
Jegede explained further that the state was already working towards developing her workforce to be digitally prepared.
“We have since realised that the level of literacy in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) among the people of the state is not high enough and we have commenced ICT training and re-training of people that will handle processes in the planned ICT Industrialisation Initiative of the state.
“Currently the state is embarking on the training of all its civil servants on the use of ICT and the state is committed to give laptops to all senior civil servants in the state, from the levels of the Governor, to Permanent Secretary, Commissioner, to Assistant Directors. That is the mandate of the state given by the Governor and we are delivering on that. We will give them laptops and train them on how to use them.
On the part of the public, the state has plans to train the public on ICT skills acquisition.
“Our major challenge now is how to train the old people in the society on ICT skills, and how to use ICT to communicate with government because the state wants to carry everybody along in its ICT Industrialisation Initiative”.
Benefits of e-Payment Solution
Some few years ago, the state introduced electronic payment system into virtually every activity of the state that has to do with financial transactions and that single initiative benefited the state a lot. Before the introduction of e-payment system, there were lots of leakages in government. The introduction and implementation of e-payment solution blocked all loopholes and saved a lot of money for the state.
In 2010 when e-payment was introduced, the state was able to save up to N109 million monthly from its internally generated revenue. “We are also doing more in terms of blocking loopholes. The state has embarked on biometrics payroll system and we are sure we will save more money from it. With the biometric payroll system, the finger print of staff becomes the staff identity, and we have used the system to know the exact staff number of civil servants in the state. In the next few months the result will be ready”, Jegede told journalist.
According to the Special Adviser, to create a Bangalore in Nigeria, the state definitely needs a software industry that will be able to train application developers that will develop standard software that will drive technology activities in the state and beyond. “Nigeria has talented software developers and the state will not want to aid capital flight by patronising foreign software. The idea for a software industry in Ekiti State is to enable the state groom software developers that will be able to develop applications that will meet the needs of Nigerian corporate as well as individual needs”, he said.
Creation of Ekiti 3.0 Channels
Following the resolve of the Government of Ekiti State to revamp its digital presence, it engaged Dymore Vision Consulting Limited in December 2011 to handle the project. The firm is actively involved in undertaking digital transformation programmes for leading brands in Africa.
In his presentation, CEO of Dymore Vision Consulting Limited who doubles as the project’s Digital Media Director, Dr. Anderson Uvie-Emegbo stated that the new Ekiti Digital channels could be comparable to the best of government digital channels anywhere in the world.
“These channels are a smart mix of technology, content, engagement, analytics, usability, functionality and aesthetics. We have not created a website. We have created Ekiti 3.0 - a set of robust integrated, multimedia digital media channels - online, social media and mobile media, backed by a strong governance strategy. It is the first of its kind within the public sector in Nigeria,” Uvie-Emegbo said.
The new digital channels allow for participative governance, better citizen engagement, greater transparency and openness using media that can be vetted by any citizen.
The digital channels include a revamped www.ekitistate.gov.ng, which is the flagship of the state's digital brand; a mobile website - well optimised for mobile - one of the first within the public sector in Nigeria; branded Facebook canvas page - with a unique application that is integrated seamlessly with various aspects of the website; branded You Tube Channel - with over 120 videos depicting the administration's programmes, projects and initiatives across its 8-point agenda; branded Slideshare account - with over 110 official documents available for public scrutiny; branded Flickr account - with over 700 official photos; the Google + Page; branded email newsletter; mobile applications for Android and Blackberry devices; SMS gateway to enable text messaging so that state executives can be contacted; and Quick Reference (QR) Codes.
These are 2 dimensional barcodes (square matrix codes) that can store a link, plain text, SMS text message, addresses, URLs, Geo location, e-mail, phone numbers, contact information and it is used for quick connections (response) between static and online content.
Benefits of Digital Media Channels
Speaking on some of the features and benefits of the state Integrated Digital Media Channels, Uvie-Emegbo said “the new Ekitistate.gov.ng takes web design from an approach of not just creating a website but creating what users actually need - usable/actionable information. Aesthetically pleasing and easy to the eyes, the current site carries an international look and feel. The website uses predominantly 2 of the State's colours within a lot of white spaces. This is in keeping with global standards of designing brand conscious websites. The website is uncluttered. Its contents are well laid in their various sections.
For Content Management System, the back end of the site was built with an easy-to-use yet robust and scalable open source content management system (CMS). This is a beautiful feature because it allows the website administrators to easily update the website with little or no programming experience.
The contents on the website are centred on the eight Point Agenda of the present administration, and it is meant to boost interactivities in the state.
According to Uvie-Emegbo, the Ekiti 3.0 is fully multimedia, highly interactive website, with the prevalent use of integrated texts, photo and video material on the website, which enable users to interact with content more intuitively.
To enable users easily find what they are looking for, the site has an intuitive search and archiving feature. It also boasts an intelligent tagging system that enables visitors use highlighted tags/keywords to search for content on the website. This invariably enhances user experience, increased page views/user and return visits, Uvie-Emegbo said.
He explained that one of the hallmarks of a state website is the ability for its content to be easily found on popular search engines.
“With the new Ekitstate.gov.ng every content on the website that relates to the administration's eight point agenda (governance, health, education, tourism, industrial development, infrastructural development, agriculture and women empowerment) has been carefully optimised for search using a variety of well tested techniques. It is certain the contents of this website would achieve a high ranking in results from search engines within a short time”, Uvie-Emegbo said.
He added that the strategy behind content generation and optimisation across the channels is to ensure that the state positions itself as a monolithic brand. It takes an integrated marketing communications approach and provides cross platform integration of content and engagement.