Technology giants based in the United States such as Microsoft and Oracle have been hired by the government of Nigeria to help it fight corruption and save costs. In one example, an Oracle initiative enabled authorities in Africa’s most populous country to identify and get rid of ghost workers numbering 50,000 from the payroll. This is according to a statement from the presidency which was released last week.
The Redwood, California-based enterprise software maker had earlier in May opened an office in Nigeria’s political capital, Abuja. Besides Oracle other technology firms which have shown interest in similar work include Ericsson and IBM. This is according to the managing director of Galaxy Backbone, Yusuf Kazaure. Galaxy Backbone is a state-owned entity which is a provider of technology services for the government.
Increased IT spending
The budget of Galaxy Backbone has been raised by 30% this year to reach a figure of $12.7 million and state funding will likely rise at the same rate in the next few years. Data obtained from the budget shows that Nigeria will increase its spending on information technology infrastructure by 50% this year.
Nigeria is currently trying to get out of a recession, the worst in over two decades, and technology is being employed in order to attract investment and enhance revenue collection for the government. The recession has been attributed to falling foreign revenues for the country mainly due to a decline in commodity prices such as oil. A drop in oil production levels as a result of strife in Niger Delta has made matters worse.
Corruption Perceptions Index
At the moment Nigeria fares badly in corruption rankings as it is placed in position 136 among 167 nations in the 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index report prepared by Transparency International.
According to Microsoft Nigeria’s public sector work director, Hakeem Adeniji-Adele, corruption could be lowered if processes such as those involving the giving of state permits were simplified by the government.
“The government’s digitization drive is imperative in cutting out the middle man. The existence of middle men has left room for corrupt and illegal practices to thrive in the governance and doing business in Nigeria,” Adeniji-Adele toldBloomberg.
According to Constance Ikokwu, the communication adviser to Nigeria’s minister of industry, trade and investment, Okey Enelamah, the government is engaged in talks with Microsoft as it seeks ways to improve e-services. This is with a view to making it easier to do business in Africa’s biggest oil producer and thus enhance its reputation as an investment destination.