Business Director of CWG Plc, Mr. Udukheli Izebuno spoke on how the company plans to use technology to boost internally generated revenue of state governments. Emma Okonji brings the excerpts:
CWG Plc recently partnered Enugu Gaming Commission to provide technology support for the agency. What must have prompted the partnership?
The idea to partner Enugu Gaming Commission is to increase operational efficiencies of the agency that will help boost its internally generated revenue (IGR).
There are opportunities for government agencies to boost their IGR, using the right technology, especially now that oil prices have dropped and there are possibilities that the prices will further drop, given the recent moves by global car manufacturers to begin the design and manufacturing of electric vehicles that will operate without the use of petrol and diesel, thereby further reducing global demand for oil, which has been Nigeria’s major export.
So there is need for government to start looking inwards around possible areas of generating revenue outside oil, and CWG wants to support government in this regard and be part of the growth plan of the federal government.
The Enugu Gaming Commission has a mandate to regulate all gaming activities in the state and the Commission is supposed to be a revenue generating agency of government, but surprisingly, most agencies of government, including the Enugu Gaming Commission, are not generating money for government in line with their mandates because they lack the technology expertise that will enable quick turnaround on investment, and that is the reason CWG is partnering the Enugu Gaming Commission to boost its revenue drive, using the right technology tools.
Why the interest in Enugu Gaming Commission?
As a technology company, we want to establish growth in organisations using technology tools, be it government owned or private organisations. Irrespective of the Kind of institutions, what we want to engender is growth. Our prevailing interest in any business that we are involved is to enable growth using technology.
One thing that will make two different entities work together is that one of the entities must have interest in the other. I see Enugu state as a forward-looking state because it has a desire to achieve efficiency using technology and that is our interest in the Enugu State Gaming Commission.
How will the partnership initiative drive local content as currently being championed by the federal government?
The partnership will surely drive local content development in Enugu State because CWG Plc is a local company with global focus. Being local, it understands the need to grow indigenous technology and add value to local industries. As local company, it means the technology we are introducing will be home grown and can be customised to meet local needs.
It is obvious that the Enugu Gaming Commission is not generating revenue the way it ought to, hence the partnership. What could be responsible for this?
I think the Commission was not given the right enabler by government to function effectively over time. Yes, it is supposed to be a self-generating agency, but they need the initial funding that will enable them get the right technology and personnel to drive the initiative of generation good revenue. If it was not properly equipped to generate revenue, then it will just be struggling to do so. The Commission does not have the requisite technology and manpower to generate revenue, yet the state government expects it to generate money. But the present government is saying it is interested in generating money and one of the best and easiest ways to do so is by deploying the right technology and that is what the partnership between the Commission and CWG Plc is all about.
So what kind of technology will CWG deploy to drive revenue for the state?
CWG is an indigenous technology company and we will be deploying home-grown technology that will facilitate revenue generation. We are looking at a holistic technology in hardware and software and the partnership is 100 per cent vendor financing, which means that CWG will deploy the technology without asking for initial payment from the Commission. So we provide everything that will make the model work and sustainable. We will be deploying technologies that are developed locally by CWG to meet local needs. Everything from hardware, software to services, will be locally sourced. The type of technology we will be deploying is called gaming management system that will help the Commission to view all the activities of gaming within the state and have idea of all the registered agents and super agents. The solution will also allow the Commission to see at a glance, how the agents operate and the amount of money they generate, and this will help the Commission to have a proper accounting process of all revenues generated by all agents and super agents in the state. The solution will enable the Commission to track and see the revenue growth of each agent and super agent in the state and also see which of the agents and super agents that are not meeting up with their targets. The whole essence is to drive efficiency and transparency in the gaming activities of the state.
How cost effective is the CWG Plc solution and what is the likely period of wait before the Commission begins to generate money?
CWG Plc has a team of financial managers who study business growth and advise clients on either long or short term returns on investments. The team looks at the economic model and proffer useful advice. So they are able to determine the cost effectiveness of each solution and how the solution should be deployed.
Most times government employees handle government jobs with levity and run it a loss. How will CWG address such attitude to work, using technology?
I will want to differ a little to say that it is the kind of work environment created around the workers that determine the inputs of the workers. Those in the public sector are intelligent crop of people, but their challenges, most times, is the work environment that they found themselves. Majority of them are not well equipped to work, yet their employer wants the best result from them, which is practically impossible. In our past experience in business partnerships with government, we discovered that government workers are eager to work and achieve results, but lack the required work tools and motivation to achieve results. Now, what we are bringing to the partnership is the enabler that will equip the workers to carry out their duties diligently in a most profitable manner, using the right technology tools.
Most times people get discouraged about gaming activities because promises are not kept, especially when it comes to prizes and remunerations. How will CWG address this?
We have a complete solution with customer service that allows citizens to have access to the gaming commission online, real time, and make enquiries, complaints, and also make claims, in a situation where they are shortchanged. Individuals can access the portal with various devices that are connected to the internet, and we developed such complete solution to build customers’ confidence. It is a multiple channel portal that allows transparency to thrive.
Government establishments are fraught with financial leakages. How will the technology that CWG Plc is bringing to the partnership, help in curbing financial losses in the Enugu Gaming Commission?
The Enugu Gaming Commission is an agency of the state government that is mandated to regulate all gaming and lottery activities in the state. It is therefore a revenue generating agency for the state. The kind of technology that CWG is bringing to the partnership, will facilitate revenue generation and in doing so, the technology will block all avenues of financial leakages.
One of the things that technology helps to do is to create security around any system, and in the process, it will block all loopholes to financial leakages. So our technology has high level of security and transparency.
Poor infrastructure is a challenge for businesses. Did CWG consider the infrastructure risk involved, and how does it want to overcome it?
Yes, there are infrastructure challenges, and we are not oblivious of that, but one of the things we have done in the past 25 years of CWG Plc existence as a technology solution company, is to offer 100 per cent vendor financing that allows us to procure the necessary infrastructure needed by the client and manage the business on behalf of the client. So we remove the challenge of poor infrastructure from the client, which could pose serious challenge to business. As a technology company, we do feasibility study of a partner’s business and understand the kind of technology to procure and we manage it in such a way that the client will not feel the impact of poor infrastructure in its business. So we understand the clients’ needs and provide technology as a service to the client, thereby removing the burdens of the client.
Is the partnership with Enugu Gaming Commission a one-off kind of business or a long term business partnership?
It could be either ways, depending on the contract at a given time. But for now, we will be working with the commission for some time, until we fully stablise the platform and manage it to the extent that it starts generating the kind of revenue desired by the state government. It is a long term business relationship.
How will after-sales services be managed in the long term business relationship?
There are opportunities for after-sales services. We will train their staff before handing over the business to them to manage. The idea of after-sales service is also incorporated in the partnership deal, which is very essential. The idea is not to sell our product, but to enable growth of the Commission.
There is this wide belief that gaming and lottery are like gambling and most people do not want to be associated with them. What is your take on this?
Yes, the thinking that gaming and lottery could be gambling, is a global thinking and it is an erroneous thinking. But the world is evolving and the erroneous thinking is gradually changing and people are beginning to see that gaming and lottery are huge businesses that have nothing to do with gambling. So we are currently working to create awareness that gaming is not gambling. Gambling is illegal, but gaming is not illegal and gaming is recognised by government all over the world.
So there is a great difference between gaming and lottery. Gaming is legal, acceptable and processed by government but gambling is illegal and unacceptable by law. Gambling is an addiction that is expressed illegally.
So what are the prospects of gaming and lottery and how can Nigerians and the Nigerian governments benefit from them?
Nigeria can generate N1.5 trillion annually from gaming but we are not there yet, because the people and government have not fully recognised the money spinning value of gaming in the country. But with technology evolution, the benefits of gaming are becoming more realistic to the people. Few weeks ago the National Lottery Commission carried out awareness campaign on gaming and lottery, because they have seen that there is a huge and potential market for gaming. So government is coming up with new ways to regulate gaming.
Given the huge potential of gaming, will CWG want to extend the partnership to other states, and does it have the capacity to do so?
We intend to partner all state governments on this and we have the capacity and the technology to do so. Our plan is even to go beyond Nigeria and export it to neighboring countries as well. We want to replicate it in the whole of Africa and make Nigerians proud that the country can drive gaming business in the whole of Africa. It is a partnership that we will want to take to different countries in Africa. The Enugu State partnership is a pilot phase that we hope to replicate in other states and outside the country. The truth about gaming is that it will not only empower individuals, but will also enable government to boost IGR and generate money for the economy because gaming is a money spinning business.
The market for gaming and lottery is huge but government is not tapping enough from the huge resources that is associated with gaming and lottery business. Regulation could be an issue and there is need for proper regulation.