From LAYI OLANREWAJU, Ilorin
Kwara State Government at the weekend assembled at least 250 tech ecosystem builders across Nigeria to develop ideas and digital skills that will address some of the problems associated with government businesses in the country and beyond.
The two-day event, which attracted participants from states like Cross Rivers, Kano, Nasarawa, Niger and Kwara, saw contestants coding all night, seeking to proffer solutions to letter and memo tracking systems; data capturing system; medical record systems for hospitals; election monitoring systems; among others.
Organized by the state-owned Ilorin Innovation Hub led by Temi Kolawole, some of the ICT talents were rewarded with monetary prizes at the end of the pitching exercise that was keenly supervised by a panel of judges.
Prominent among the participants and mentors were the Country Director, UK Nigeria Tech Hub, Justina Oha; House of Reps candidate (APC) Ilorin West/Asa Federal Constituency Hon. Mukhtar Shagaya; representative of the Director General National Information Technology and Development Agency (NITDA) and Director Zonal offices of the agency Babajide Ajayi; Vice President IHS Towers Kazeem Oladepo; Memunat Monsuma; CEO Plat Technologies Ltd Engr Taofik Abdulkareem; and some government officials, including the State Commissioner for Communications Hon. Sadiq Buhari; Executive Chairman Kwara State Internal Revenue Service (KWIRS) Folashade Omoniyi; Managing Director, Ilorin Innovation Hub, Temi Kolawole; Executive Chairman, State Geographic Information System (Kw-GIS) Abdulmutalib Shittu; GMD Harmony Holdings Abdulmajeed Abdullahi; and Acting GM state Social Investment Programme (KWASSIP) Abdulquowiyu Olododo, among others.
Country Director, UK Nigeria Tech Hub, Justina Oha, in her keynote address, said e-solutions are now becoming part of the processes globally, commended the state government for going digital and for the choice of Temi Kolawole as the head of Innovation Hub.
She said the United Kingdom is interested in collaborating with Nigeria and Kwara in particular to develop an enabling tech ecosystem.
“The governments of this World are looking for e-solutions to become a part of their processes, and regardless of the outcome tonight you are all winners as you are contributing to the digital economy of this World and the solutions that will matter,” she said.
“Technology drives innovation. It has come to stay and it will continue to be so. It is really difficult imagining where the World will be in the next ten years just because of the principles of multiplicity. Things are happening in a very accelerated space. And staying alive with your vision in technology is a sure way to become part of that movement”.
“We will continue to work together to develop an enabling tech ecosystem in Nigeria and in Kwara state. God bless this state and all of you,” she added.
Temi, for his part, said they organized the programme to unlock some key solutions in government, and also kick-start a revolution in the way government is run in Nigeria.
“We believe the government can become more efficient via adoption of technology and digital transformation. The current mode of communication in government agencies is still mostly
paper-driven, which comes with several risks. We are putting this hackathon together to unlock some key solutions in government, and also kick-start a revolution in the way government is run in Nigeria, while supporting local talent,” he said, while speaking with newsmen late Sunday.
He said the contestants were grouped into 50 teams with each of them allocated areas of focus and identifiable problems in government businesses to solve, adding most of them are indigenes, who he said, were picked to encourage them harnessing their talents in digital space.
“They have worked on solutions on letter and memo tracking systems, data capturing systems, and medical record systems for hospitals. You know how in hospitals the files are physical. When you go to hospitals you start looking for your files, after asking you for your cards. We can rather digitize all medical records; you just enter a patient name or number, and it brings out all their records. It can even be between life and death when you spend 30 minutes looking for a patient’s file. So these are little things that can be done to solve problems in our society, using technology.
“Another example of a project that we have is the election monitoring systems. You know we have different kinds of issues in the elections, you can send in pictures where incidents happen. You can also look at the scores; how different candidates are performing in different polling units and wards just as a way of tracking and keeping accountability to compare results from different sources,” he added.
Other projects already put in place, according to Temi, was the garment factory online platform — a newly established firm by the Kwara state government, where he said people can order wholesales from anywhere in the world.
Shittu, one of the jurists at the competition, said they expected contestants to create ideas, the solutions to solve those ideas, and to assess their ability to build those ideas within the two days the event lasted, as well as their (ideas) marketability in the society.
“We have a lot of sponsors here. We have Whogohost, FibreOne, and so on. They are all here sitting down to look at the take that are here. So the talents are going to be taken on board, nurtured fully and be given the assistance they need to develop these solutions they have made and make them marketable. Some of the solutions they have made are meant to be sold to the state and the whole World”.
Memunat Monsuma – a technology expert from Edu local government of Kwara state, who spoke to the topic: “Facilitating Gender Equality on Technology”, said 89 percent of Kwara women are not IT compliant, explaining some.of the steps she has been taking to address that.
She said she has trained over 5000 women so far about the use of the internet to enable them to meet up with the global expectations.
Highlight of the event was the presentation of monetary gifts to the winning teams. The first prize (N2m) went to Team Health stack; Team INOVATIF got the 1st runner-up prize of N1m, while Team KidsTech, which is the 2nd runner up, received N500,000.