With a combination of entrepreneurship and new technology, SecureID has become Africa’s first SIM card manufacturing company, writes Peace Obi
Uncommon approach most often they say gives uncommon result. That may be the simplest way to describe the breaking of the uncommon ground by SecureID, a leading smart card manufacturing and personalisation company in Lagos. Undeterred by seemingly harsh investment climate, skeptics fear of its survival in a foreign-dominated line of business, controlled by the technologically advanced countries, the entrepreneur and her team pursued dreams, resolutely. And against all odds, SecureID berthed on Nigerian soil some 10 years ago and has remained committed to its vision. SecureID has not only weathered the storms but has emerged stronger with many feathers on its cap – the latest being the addition of SIM card manufacturing plant to its line of business.
At the inauguration of the first SIM card manufacturing plant in Nigeria, which is also the first of its kind in Africa, in Lagos the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, noted that it is uncommon to see a company that could combine the three components that the administration has identified as being strategic to industrialisation, economic development and general well-being of the economy.
Stating that it takes a strong entrepreneurial spirit and zeal to drive a vision as broad and technical as SecureID, Enelamah said: “What I find very interesting is that the company we are sort of celebrating today is an interception of three things that are vital to us as a country and to this government in terms of our strategy – entrepreneurship, manufacturing and whole technology and telecoms space. It is not often easy to get a company that can somehow combine those three components together. It takes entrepreneurial spirit, vision, drive and zeal to make it happen,” he said.
In a tour of the facility, Enelamah described the manufacturing plant as being of world class standard and as one example of federal government’s economic diversification and backward integration initiatives. Expressing confidence in the entrepreneurial spirit of Nigerians, the minister noted that given a conducive environment, entrepreneurs could survive and contribute significantly in the economic development of the country.
He added that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to partnering with the private sector as part of its strategies towards the attainment of its goals of diversification, job creation and industrialisation.
Speaking further, the minister noted that an enabling environment is one of the things the government needs to get right. According to him, creating the right investment climate, ease of doing business for private sector would enable Nigerian businesses to survive and prosper.
“As a country and as a government, we must support more and more of our entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams and vision and allow them to reach their full potentials,” he said.
Assuring the company of government’s support, Enelamah said: “We are very committed in the area of financing. I want to acknowledge the BoI for their support for SecureID and many other players. They have our full support to actually assist the industrialisation of Nigeria. So, what I can assure you is that we will continue to support you, to add value to employment generation and improve on the administration’s import substitution strategy.”
In her speech, the Chief Executive Officer of SecureID, Kofo Akinkugbe, expressed gratitude to God for the turnaround of event – the success story and most recently the expansion of SecureID line of business into SIM card manufacturing.
She disclosed that said if asked to title her speech, it would be: “Seeing is Believing.”
According to the CEO, prior to the incorporation and commencement of operations, not many believed her dream.
“Whenever I shared my vision to the banking out space a number of years ago, most reactions could be best described as mild dismissal. Yet, we have remained undeterred. I remember in 2005 when we made enquiries for our first German machines, the German representative at the point laughed at us. And when he asked where we want to use the machine, we said, “Nigeria”, he said, “wow, Nigeria, Nigeria, okay.” And then, a few years later, we approached another manufacturer for a press, you have got to see his reaction.
“But today, we are very proud to be located here with SIM card manufacturing facility functions. Now, SecureID stands to be the first end-to-end SIM card manufacturing plant in Africa. And we have set out to take advantage of the telecoms space. And again, of course our vision is to remain a global brand and market leader in card solutions. The plant as it is has a current capacity of 200 million cards per annum.
“Now, with the inauguration of this manufacturing plant, we are well positioned to provide proximate services to the telecoms industry bringing the same superior technology they have always enjoyed but produced locally.”
Adding that with the adoption of superior technology, a world class production plant and standards, among others, that the company is determined to remain a market leader in its line of business, and that SecureID is committed to local content policy.
“Our impact does not stop here as this facility will continue to serve as nucleus of our high tech manufacturing company. We are a 100 per cent Nigeria company employing some of the finest young talents, particularly graduates. Ninety-eight per cent of our workforce are Nigerians.
“I see the infinite opportunities in Nigeria, not only in the economy but also in the people. We are going to continue to make sure that even our raw materials as much as possible are locally available. And one thing that we are going to continue to do is to backward integrate to make sure that all the input to our local presence here are locally available. Also one area we are looking at is the recycling of our products and recycling of our waste which also can be an input for other industries,” she said.
Describing the journey so far as both tough and fulfilling, the Chairman, Board of Directors of the company, Mr. Dotun Suleiman hinted that though faced with a lot of challenges, the management of SecureID had remained resolute.
“It has been a long and fulfilling journey. It has been hard, it has been tough but it has been very satisfying and fulfilling. When you start with a vision and actually see your vision come to light in your lifetime, that is truly fulfilling,” he said.
Enumerating some of the hurdles the new product may encounter as the company pushes further on its drive to take advantage of the telecoms space by domesticating its solutions, the chairman cited adoption as a major challenge to contend with.
According to him, the telecoms companies are used to importing their SIMs and they have their suppliers who have been in the business for a long time.
“These suppliers supply not just Nigeria telecoms but global telecoms and because the companies themselves are part of the global network, they tend to centralise their procurement to realise economics of scale.
“And so, when you will now say you want to domesticate some of that, it is very difficult to break into that market. This is another reason why we need government’s support. Because left to the telecoms alone without a small push or nudge from policy, they will just do the comfortable thing,” he said.
Noting that though the high foreign exchange may also play in the company’s favour, Suleiman reiterated the need for government’s support through the instrumentality of policy.
“What is playing in our favour is what is happening to the high foreign exchange rate because what we produce is produced locally, marketed in naira and they are paying in naira. So, the foreign exchange challenge is our major advantage. But even in spite of this advantage, they still need to be nudged a little bit. Government has been supporting but much still needs to be done,” he said.
The acting Managing Director, Bank of Industry, Waheed Olagunju, in his remarks applauded management’s investment decision and disclosed that the venture was supported based on its potential to positively impact domestic consumption, aid technology transfer and create employment opportunities in the sector.