The Federal Government of Nigeria recently indicated that very soon we will start flying again. It’s a welcome news from the aviation industry that we are going to start flying very soon but the Chief Information Officer indicates that the situation is very demanding. Of course, CIO’s have never had such a glorious and challenging opportunity that Covid-19 has presented; to deliver significant, enduring and transformational business impacts and customer value as they do today.
They are expected to think out of the box to actually respond to organizational issues. Suffice to say, the pandemic is making them to be innovative.
Today, we are continuing our publications (series) on CIO Africa Leadership Series webinar hosted recently by CIO MasterClass Africa for Chief Information Officers (CIO) particularly in Africa with the theme – COVID – 19: “The CIO’s Leadership Moment” – Prospects, Challenges and its implication for the African Continent – with the general direction on “leadership, strategy and operational level”, looked at CIOs role in normal times vis – a – viz the new normal defined by COVID – 19. We are focusing on aviation.
The Convener, CIO MasterClass Africa is Engr. Ifeanyi Frank Ogochukwu, a former CIO of Nigerian Airspace Management Agency and the Chief Technology Strategist for Debbie Mishael Consulting – an African premier consulting, implementation and training firm moderated this webinar.
Mr. Charles Ayeteni is the Chief Information Officer of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) with headquarters based in Lagos.
Mr. Ayeteni displayed his practical experience in Conception, Engineering, Planning Management and Directing IT infrastructures during the webinar. He expatiated on how experience in IT and IS solution design, delivery, Optimization of IT operations, Software Development, helped his team at the peak of Covid-19 pandemic:
“Thank you very much. I work in aviation and aviation is one of the most, infact, the worst-hit industry, because of this covid-19. Planes are made to fly but today planes are on the ground and my job becomes particularly very difficult when I need to ask for funding from my CEO because I know that for the first time in over 20 years, I’ve been working in this industry zero income is coming in and we have to do a lot of things. I work for the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority. We are a regulator and aviation has never been hit like this.
“So, we have to begin to create new regulations, how first of all to shut down the industry, to shut down international borders and now to reopen the industry however planning towards reopening the industry.
“Aviation is the most regulated industry in the world and the standards are set internationally because as they say, ‘there are no borders in the skies’. So, you have to work closely with ICAO – the International Civil Aviation Organization, one of my biggest challenge has been how in formulating regulations I have to make services available as the Nigerian regulator; we have close to 26 airports scattered around the country and we have inspectors, aviation inspectors in all these places. Now, they all have to connect and share the same resource. Many of these people for the first time they have to have a Zoom meeting; how do I connect somebody that is 800 kilometers from me that have never used zoom before. So, these are some of the challenges that we had to deal with.
“Before I actually go into the challenges, I want to share a quote one of my favorites Charles Darwin. He said ‘It is not the strongest of the species that survives nor the most intelligent that survives it is the one that is most adaptive to change’. You remember the dinosaur? I tell this story every time: The dinosaur during this time was the alpha-predator, the number one predator top of the food chain, but when the environment was changing it did not evolve with the environment even though it was on top of the food chain. It became extinct. Right now all of a sudden we are in a different environment.
“How do we evolve to that? So that we stay relevant and this is this is how to tell a lot of my inspectors trying to get them online, teaching them the basics of how to join meetings virtually. Just before the Covid-19 I have moved most of my services to the cloud. I don’t run live servers again; all my services are running on the cloud now. So, I really did not have much disruption in making services available; but now in connecting individuals in virtually all our offices we have provided internet. Now people have to work from home. Now, I am required to provide internet for them in different regions. It was quite challenging at first, but we had to think smart. We had to provide internet dongles and walk them through how to join meetings.
“So, right now a lot of regulations are being formulated on how to reopen the industry so that planes can fly again; all these with a zero income. Almost every time I had to ask for funding right now I’m very sensitive because I talk to my Chief Executive he will tell you ‘look, you know for the past three months we’ve had zero income so you know that nothing is coming in. So you have to think out of the box. How can we utilize this little we have so there’s no disruption in our services’? Aviation is crucial.
“I listen to most of the panelists here most of you like Dr. Ayotunde, this period actually you had a little boom because many people realized how virtual operations will help them scale. The banking sector had incomes; the speaker from Flour Mill – people have to eat, but me people are not flying and when people are not flying we don’t to make money. So, it now became particularly challenging.
“We are planning towards reopening and how can we try to make the public want to fly again? How to make Aviation safe; a lot of policies and a lot of regulations are being formulated, so a lot of meetings are going on in the background and I have to provide a virtual platform for all of this. Working from home is now a new normal and people are beginning to accept it. And managing all this has been a daunting task. Somehow, we have to open the industry; people must fly. The aviation industry cannot stop because of Covid. We must learn to live with it. We must adapt to these changes.
“So, my challenge has been how to create the enabling environment for the industry to reopen. All the policies, meetings have been going on. In fact, they meet regularly almost every day. So, anytime there’s one I’m trying to make sure there’s no downtime; all these with limited funding. So, that’s part of my challenges and part of what we are facing today.
To be continued tomorrow with the Head of IT, Equity Bank, Rwanda, Carole Karema Jeni.