How FG Can Use Technology to Manage Debts

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Emma Okonji

The Chairman of Zinox Group, Leo Stan Ekeh has called on the federal government to leverage on technology to reduce the growing incidences of public debts.

He made the call while delivering a paper at the 2018 Nigerian Online Merit Awards (NiOMA) in Lagos, recently.
Ekeh, who disclosed that technology would resolve much of the contemporary problems facing the Nigerian state if holistically applied, noted that the country would benefit immensely if the government adopts technology in its search for lasting solutions to the challenges confronting the economy.

According to Ekeh, the recent revelation by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) that, about 350 Nigerians account for 80 per cent of its N5.4 trillion debt portfolio and the refusal of majority of these debtors to payback their debts was an issue that can be easily resolved through the application of technology if there exists accurate data of how the debts arose.

He said it could also be that the government at different levels were partially responsible for some of these debts, especially if they were unable to meet their obligations to some of the corporates.

Ekeh acknowledged that the present debt profile should be a case study for upcoming entrepreneurs or part of the issues to be dissected by data analysts on why some the affected businesses failed, noting that this may also reveal a lot of insider compromises on the part of the lenders so that lessons could be learnt and better structure and systems put in place to avert a recurrence.

“Working in concert with the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Attorney General of the Federation and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for enforcement purposes, AMCON can leverage a simple technology application that makes it easy to access the bank balances of debtors across all the various banks in Nigeria.

“This will be a mandatory requirement for the extension of loans and credit facilities and will foster more responsible borrowing as the lenders can easily debit the accounts of borrowers upon due date to recover sums extended.

“This will not only reduce the growing profile and negative trend of corporate debts, with its attendant detrimental effect on the economy but will also expose many Nigerians who are publicly hailed as billionaires but who are only living large off depositors’ money, while frustrating further lending to start ups,” he stated.

Disclosing the many ways, he had relied on technology to ramp up efficiency in his businesses, Ekeh revealed that in few days’ time, he would be trying out a new Enterprise Application that will simplify transaction with bankers, irrespective of the numbers.

“This application will give us control over all of our bank accounts instead of relying on bank staff to implement our instruction at their convenience,” he added.

He also disclosed that the new warehouses widely reported as recently acquired by Konga, were equipped with digital cameras with data analytics and artificial intelligence capabilities which can easily detect fraud and random inconsistencies such as a change in the appearance of an individual or item captured on entry into the facilities. Most importantly, these cameras are cloud based.

Urging the government to commit more resources to technology in resolving the unemployment challenges and drive the nation towards rapid development, Ekeh cited the influence of technology in the political space which he said had reduced post-election litigations from 87 per cent, to about 33 per cent, noting that this will further reduce to 11 per cent or thereabouts with the adoption of electronic voting, if funded by the government.

The Zinox Chairman who spoke on the theme, ‘Leveraging the Internet Revolution to leapfrog Nigeria’s development,’ affirmed that information technology would disrupt the Nigerian economy positively by the year 2023, creating immense opportunities and new wealth for many Nigerians.