Chijioke Eke is the current Managing Director, Sidmach Technologies. A highly innovative ICT Expert with a wealth of experience from top companies like KPMG, NNPC, Shell Petroleum Development Company, Perry Consultants, and Data Sciences. As a seasoned Network Integration Specialist, he has played major roles in many ICT projects of National importance. He possesses several IT and executive leadership certifications from Nigeria and Overseas.
For the last 27 years, the Company has consistently innovated, transforming over a hundred million lives across sub-Saharan Africa. In this interview on the occasion of [email protected] ICT Hall of Fame Awards organized by TechTV Networks in coloration with TechEconomy.ng, Mr. Eke tells us more about Sidmach’s and the general industry issues. EXCERPTS.
Q: As you know, the world is ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic. What has it taught us as an industry?
Ekeh: The Covid-19 pandemic has proved to be one of the fiercest crisis the world has had to deal with in recent times. It is one which has placed the global economy on a standstill and has affected virtually every industry, including the technology industry.
The biggest takeaway from the pandemic is that: Everyone must be ready for change – both systemic and endemic.
The pandemic has shifted global focus to the technology sector as most activities are now being carried out via technological platforms; most business meetings and transactions are now done through conference telephony and virtual meetings. This further proves that the 4th Industrial Revolution is upon us. It has shifted focus to technological development, e-commerce, search engines, and online marketing as the pandemic has isolated people from their businesses. Thus, telecommunications industries have thrived as a result of the isolation situation, which now brings the world to the realization that technological advancement to the industry is what would give businesses the upper hand in maximizing the global pandemic for their benefits.
Q: What is the mission and vision of Sidmach Technologies to the ICT industry and the Nigerian nation?
Ekeh: Our vision is to be the preferred business and life transforming partner for Nigerians and the rest of the world. This we aim to achieve through our mission – which is to create technology platforms that make work smarter and life better. For the last 27 years, we have consistently done this, transforming over a hundred million lives across sub-Saharan Africa. Our vision for the industry is that we can work in tandem with other key players in helping Nigeria achieve a fully digital economy, creating a better world for the coming generation in the process. We want to be able to not only pass on the torch of quality innovation, but lay foundations that will make Nigeria become strong contributors to global solutions.
Q: Sidmach Technologies is famed for setting the pace in innovations in education solutions, any Innovation to expect in the post pandemic era?
Ekeh: As a Microsoft Gold Partner, we are a leading provider of world class solutions which has helped boost productivity, collaboration and creativity for Schools, Teachers, and other businesses.
Recently, we proactively launched a learning management solution called LUMINATE, developed specifically to help schools navigate through the pandemic by taking learning and classroom activities online. The solution was developed for schools and learners across all levels – from nursery to primary, secondary, and tertiary levels. As of now, we have more than a hundred schools already registered on the platform, running their school online.
Also, we have BIZKIT, a simple and handy tool offering a complete business management solution for SMEs allowing them manage the most critical components of their business – accounting, invoicing, payroll as well as inventory; all managed at the click of buttons in one single environment! We have made it customizable according to individual choices and the SME can go as far as choosing their own theme, templates and even colours. Standard reports and insights are automatically generated to give you a 360 degree view on how your business is moving at any point in time. It is by far the most robust indigenous SME solution and that is quite on the conservative side.
All of these and many more are our significant contributions to the development of education and business in Nigeria. And that is not to mention other sectors we have and continue to positively impact.
Q: As Nigeria marks her 60th anniversary, can you highlight some of the success story of the IT Industry to the development of the country and some of the innovative solutions from Sidmach that added value?
Ekeh: Since 1994, our cutting-edge solutions have also helped optimize the processing of over 80 million student records – the largest and most impactful of its kind across the continent. Sidmach currently processes about 4 million registration records annually for WAEC, JAMB, NYSC, and other leading bodies.
Working with NERDC, we were also able to digitize the Nigerian curriculum and making it accessible to schools anytime, anywhere and on any device. This has helped improve the work of more than 2800 schools who have taken advantage of the e-Curriculum across Nigeria.
As a forward-thinking company, we are constantly seeking for new, efficient and scalable ways to add valuable growth to the industry and also the nation at large.
Q: What are some key issues facing the ICT sector that needs urgent government policy statement?
Ekeh: There are specific key issues that affect the Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector, and some of these issues include the following:
- The internet penetration in most areas of the country is still very low and next to nothing is being done to reach these unserved and underserved areas. However, at Sidmach, we are already looking into an innovative way to solve this problem but still, urgent Governmental attention is needed.
- Another critical issue affecting the ICT sector and requires government urgent policy statements is the issue of the rate of cybercrime. Nowadays, swindlers have retorted to making use of almost every ICT at their disposal to commit cybercrimes and rob people of their monies and this is an issue in the ICT sector that needs urgent attention. At Sidmach, we have partnered with one of the World’s top Security Experts in Sophos and together, we have been able to successfully do a lot in security of national data but Governmental regulations would go a long way here also.
- There is also the case of cost and funding. The ICT sector is one that requires regular financing to keep up with the development, purchase and installation of these communication technologies.
There are many other key issues that affect the ICT sector and these issues have an effect on the overall performance of all activities that goes on the industry and these issues need urgent government policy statements to ensure that the ICT sector overcome these issues plaguing their operations as this will accelerate the technological development of the sector and country at large.
Q: How would you rate the present administration in the area of ICT for national development?
Ekeh: Although, we are still hoping for a lot to be done in this regard, we cannot however, deny that some efforts have been made by the administration in supporting the ICT sector as part of reforms to aid and accelerate national development most notably led by our able Minister for Communications and Digital Economy.
For the first time in our history as a country, we are able to launch our own Unity Board, a novel technological piece that is able to encapsulate the next step in Nigeria’s technological advancement timeline.
The present administration led by President Buhari has done fairly well in the area of ICT as it concerns national development but we cannot rest on our oars; a lot more needs to be done to make sure the ICT industry gets to the desired level of growth that we all envisage.
Q: As the nation marks her 60th anniversary what would be your message to President Buhari, HM, your clients and the ICT Industry as we approach post Covid era?
Ekeh: The nation is celebrating its 60th anniversary and my message to the President of the Federation, President Muhammadu Buhari, would be first of all to thank him for the support he has given to our own Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Sheikh (Dr.) Isa Ali Pantami in helping us come this far.
With the presidential support and support from all other factions of the ICT sector, I am sure the Honorable Minister will take the industry to another level as it has the potential of being one of the mainstays of the economy; boosting revenue and driving national growth.
Finally, we also want to thank our clients for standing with us for the past two and a half decades, we also want to assure them that the Sidmach brand has a lot in store for them moving forward and they should expect more value because we are all about making their life better and their work smarter!