Nigerian news on my mobile, anyone?

Last Sunday I was on the road and like I do every Lord 's Day, I wanted to catch-up with Simon Kolawole Live! on Thisday but I couldn't because Thisdaylive.com isn't formatted to be displayed suitably on a mobile device. If I zoom up to what my ageing eyes could read properly, the pages extend beyond the browser and would require too many horizontal scrolling. Anyway, I gave up and that was it.

All news organizations in Nigeria have websites though the quality and design of these websites is an argument best left for another day. Save for Vanguard and maybe Thisday, the rest are online junk; crappy slow-loading messes that hardly receive proper updates. Even Thisday just earned a bit of my respect after a belated redesign. Business Day Online used to be a joy to read but then only heaven knows what happened to their webmaster. At first, it was an irritating music (yes, music on a business news website!) and now the whole site is just something else.

Anyway, back to my ranting.

The internet is alive and kicking in Nigeria, but on mobile phones. And considering that we spend most of our productive time stuck in some traffic, the mobile web becomes even more important. So it is amazing that none of the top news organizations have their websites formatted to be displayed properly on mobile devices. You can't even load Guardian on your Blackberry because the file size is too large.

Any news agency that is quick to recognize the potentials of the mobile web stands a chance to win a large followership (large followership translates to premium advertising) as long as it has good stories to offer for the quality of the news in Nigeria is something else. Maybe the same stuck-in-the-box thinking affecting the quality of the news is also affecting the quality of the web and the absence of a mobile site. Maybe not.

If you want to know the difference between a proper news website and its mobile version  visit Guardian.co.uk on your desktop and mobile device.

Major news websites in Nigeria:

The voodoo of informed predictions

This morning I got a mail from a well-regarded source about the likely outcome of the bi-monthly Monetary Policy Committee (The MPC is a committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria) meeting coming up later in the day. The source argued that the MPR, LR and CRR would probably be left at 7.5%, 30% and 2% respectively. With a caveat that the prediction should be taken with a pinch of salt and she's not liable for any calamity that hits anyone who uses the prediction to make decisions. Come on! Even Jim Jones was better than this.

By the way, if you don't know what these acronyms stand for, don't bother; they mean absolute nothing, especially to the man on the street. They are some of the jargons we bankers put up to feel very self-important.

It would have been a story if the ratios weren't changed: I can't remember if any of the predictions ever made by my source came true. But I'm sure if Harold Camping's rapture hasn't taken place before the next MPC, my impeccable source would make another prediction and guess what, my own prediction is that she's going to be wrong, as usual.

The business world is replete with loads of analysts and self-styled experts but empirical evidence has shown we (too bad, seems I'm one of them) are not better than an army of random monkeys hitting away at the keyboards and a chance Shakespeare classic coming out. The publishing editors are thrilled and the monkeys have been given an advance for 4 more classics. You see, if you deal with a very large solution space (another jargon, another narcissistic comment) like I'm working on for my current project, anyone can get lucky.

The real disaster, of course, is confusing luck with expertise.

If you think I'm joking, read about what McKinsey and Company told AT&T in 1982.

Interesting bits on Nigerian governors

If you take a look at the current lineup of governors (those staying and new ones) you would say that education in Nigeria is about to be rescued from doldrums. That's only if you look at the lineup. Whether education would be granted a lifeline is a waiting game. And by the way, patience is a dangerous virtue.

Some dude put up an interesting data about these folks on Nairaland of recent. 31 (86%) of the governors have university degree and it's not that the rest skipped school; of the 3 (8%) who had HND from polytechnics, 2 topped it with additional Masters. 2 (6%) are ex-military top guns and someone did a railway course. Only one governor doesn't have a record but I can bet he must have had some school. And believe me, these guys are exposed: 8 (22%) have studied abroad, and 2 (6%) have PhDs. Of course Kayode Fayemi is the most educated, he had PhD from King's College London. He's my man any day.

What most did after school is entirely another kettle of fish: 9 (25%) learned politics from careers in civil service (now that sounds scary), of the 7 (19%) lawyers, 5 (14%) setup their private legal practice (fine-tuning election tribunal skills I guess). And talk is cheap in the south and lawyers do talk a lot, of the 7 lawyers; only 2 (6%) are from the north.

The two 2 (6%) ex-medicos had private hospitals. What became of their patients when they vied into politics is a question I would love to get an answer to. Apart from Peter Obi of Anambra who was chairman of Fidelity Bank Plc. all the other 3 (8%) ex-bankers are northern governors (I guess my chance of becoming a governor one day is next to nothing).

But like some people will tell you, facts are sometimes not reality. All these interesting bits could mean absolutely nothing. Notwithstanding, you can crank out your own insights using the data below or visit the Nairaland forum to vent your frustration.

State Governor Degree Career height Party
Abia Theodore Orji BA English (University of Ibadan) Career civil servant PDP
Adamawa Murtala Nyarko Navy Training (Britannia Royal Naval College) Vice Admiral (Nigerian Navy) PDP
Akwa Ibom Godswill Akpabio  LLB Law (University of Calabar) Director, Corporate Affairs/Legal Services (EMIS Telecoms) PDP
Anambra Peter Obi BA Philosophy (University of Nigeria) Chairman (Fidelity Bank) APGA
Bauchi Isa Yuguda BSc Economics (ABU), MBA (University of Jos), Chief Executives Programme (Lagos Business School) CEO (NAL Merchant Bank), CEO (Inland Bank) PDP
Bayelsa Timipre Sylva BA English Studies/Linguistics (University of Port Harcourt) Career politician PDP
Benue Gabriel Suswam LLB Law (University of Lagos), LLM Law (University of Jos), MA Public Administration (University of Abuja) Owner (Private legal practice) PDP
Borno Kashim Shettima BSc Agric Economics (University of Maiduguri), MSc Agric Economics (University of Ibadan) GM (Zenith Bank) ANPP
Cross River Liyel Imoke BA International Relations and Economics (University of Maryland, College Park), LLB Law (University of Buckingham), LLM Law (American University, Washington, D. C) Private business PDP
Delta Emmanuel Uduaghan MBBS Medicine, Diploma Anaesthesia (University of Benin) Owner (Private medical practice) PDP
Ebonyi Martin Elechi BSc Economics (Lovanium University of Congo) Career politician PDP
Edo Adams Oshiomhole Economics and Industrial relations (Ruskin College), Candidate (National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies) President (NLC) ACN
Ekiti Dr Kayode Fayemi BA History(University of Lagos), MA International Relations (Obafemi Awolowo University), PhD War Studies (King's College, London) Director (Centre for Democracy & Development), Visiting Professor in African Studies (Northwestern University) ACN
Enugu Sullivan Chime LLB Law (University of Nigeria) Owner (Private legal practice) PDP
Gombe Ibrahim Dankwambo BSc Accounting (Ahmadu Bello University), MSc Economics (University of Lagos), Chartered Accountancy (ICAN) Accountant General of the Federation (Nigeria), FCA (ICAN) PDP
Imo Ikedi Ohakim BSc Business Administration and MSc Management (University of Lagos)  CEO (Alucon) PDP
Jigawa Sule Lamido Course in Railway Engineering (Permanent Way Training School, Zaria) Career civil servant PDP
Kaduna Patrick Yakowa BSc Social Sciences (Ahmadu Bello University) Career civil servant PDP
Kano Rabiu Kwankwaso HND Civil Engineering (Kaduna Polytechnic), PgD Water Engineering (Middlesex University), MSc Water Engineering (Lagborough University) Career civil servant PDP
Kastina Ibrahim Shema LLB Law & MBA (Ahmadu Bello University) Owner (Private legal practice) PDP
Kebbi Usman Dakingari BA Geography (Ahmadu Bello University) Career civil servant PDP
Kogi Ibrahim Idris LLB Law (University of Abuja) Private business PDP
Kwara Abdulfattah Ahmed BSc Chemistry (University of Ilorin) Senior Manager, Banking (GTB) PDP
Lagos Babatunde Fashola LLB Law (University of Benin) Managing Partner (K.O. Tinubu & Company), SAN CAN
Nasarawa Umaru Al-Makura BA Education (Ahmadu Bello University) Assistant Producer, News and Current Affairs (NTA Kaduna) CPC
Niger Dr Mu'azu Aliyu BA Education (Bayero University) PhD Public Policy and Strategic Studies (University of Pittsburgh) Career civil servant PDP
Ogun Ibikunle Amosun  HND Accountancy (Ogun State Polytechnic), MA International Finance (University of Westminster), Chartered Accountancy (ICAN Owner (Private accountancy practice), FCA (ICAN) ACN
Ondo Dr Olusegun Mimiko BSc Health Sciences Degree, MB & CH.B Medicine (Obafemi Awolowo University) Owner (Private medical practice) Labor
Osun Rauf Aregbesola HND Mechanical Engineering (Ibadan Polytechnic) Owner (Private engineering firm), Commissioner (Lagos State Ministry of Works and Infrastructure) ACN
Oyo Abiola Ajimobi BSc in Business Administration and Finance (State University of New York, Buffalo), MBA Operations Research and Marketing (Governor's State University) CEO (National Oil and Chemical Marketing Company) ACN
Plateau Jonah Jang Air Force Training (Military Training Schools, Nigeria/Abroad), B.Div Divinity (Theological College of Northern Nigeria) Air Commodore (Nigerian Air Force) PDP
Rivers Rotimi Amaechi BA & MA English (University of Port-Harcourt) Career politician PDP
Sokoto Aliyu Wamakko BSc Education (University of Pittsburgh) Career civil servant PDP
Taraba Danbaba Suntai BPharm Pharmacy (Ahmadu Bello University) Career civil servant PDP
Yobe Ibrahim Gaidam BSc Accountancy (Ahmadu Bello University) Career civil servant ANPP
Zamfara Yari Abubakar   Career politician ANPP

Disclaimer: Kindly take the validity of this data with a pinch of salt and don't use it to decide on your political career. And don't use it to tackle your governor either.

Let there be light

In Genesis 1:3, God said, let there be light and there was light. And guess what, that light has been on for the past billions of years since creation. It runs on nuclear fusion but that is by the way.

What is actually on my mind has to do with Nigeria. The presidential election results have come in and President Goodluck Jonathan has won. Whether the losers would contest at the Supreme Court is not actually my problem now. My real problem is how do we get power to work in Nigeria? Someone was asking about the two biggest problems we have and I said electricity and infrastructure and the rest are symptoms. I could be wrong but I know it is easier to turn to crime when you are poor than when well off even though rich people tend to pull off some spectacular heists (Think Madoff).

So if the new government can deal with one of these two problems, I would love whosesoever is the president to fix the power problem.

The figures look ominous indeed. Nigeria with a population of 150M (I don't believe that number but there is nothing else to work with) has a measly 4,000MW power output. To put it in perspective, that is a 60w light bulb for every 2,250 Nigerians. South Africa down south has 50.5 Million souls with 44,000MW output. If we are ever to match SA, we need to ramp up to 130,000MW. Now, that is almost impossible to reach with few years but what if we strive for just 50% of that, can get the extra 61,000MW in 7+ years? At a nominal cost of $1M per MW, I know the government can't build this out even with a sincerity of heart. Where can they pull $61B from? That figure is almost equal to the total annual amount we would make in oil revenue if we export our normal 2million barrels of oil per day at the benchmarked $85 per barrel but I don't know if our Senators can starve for Nigeria. And that is for generation alone: We need a new transmission grid and a distribution network. All these could cost even more than the cost of building the new power stations.

Maybe it is not as bad as it looks. Prior to 2001, Nigeria had serious communication problem but when government exited the scene and liberalized the market, the transformation has been tremendous. It's 10 years since that magic happened and today we are the largest telecoms market in Africa. 10 years ago, we had less than 400,000 working lines which is equivalent to 375 Nigerians sharing a working phone. If each line is used to the fullest, each person can make only 4 minutes of call each day. But as of February 2011, 90,583,306 mobile lines are active in the country. Last year alone (2010), MTN raked $5b in revenue with $3 of that in pure profit.

Currently government has a liberalization policy under works which wants to divest the entire current power infrastructure save for the transmission line that will be managed by a contractor (not Pentascope, I pray!). To attract investors, government has a plan of jacking the cost of electricity up; while almost everyone is balking at the idea I believe it is better as long as 1 – the cost is less than running my generator and 2 – the power is good and consistent.

The energy market promises to be huge though generator and diesel importers will go under. Unlike telephone which one could do without, electricity is like food; you can't just but use it. If the market booms, the cost of production of goods and services would reduce, merchants would make more. Artisans would flourish. Of course tax income would improve for the government and the economy would grow like a raging vine. With that, there should be more revenue for the government to actually build infrastructure and maybe for once, Nigeria can be great.

I believe God created the president in his own image so let him declare for Nigeria: Let there be light!

Core banking software in Nigeria

It wasn’t long ago that Nigeria had a gazillion banks but one and half banking consolidations later, we are down to about 24. By the time the other half of the new consolidation is concluded, we might be left with about 15 or so but until then fingers are crossed. While the banks that survived the regulatory apocalypse might be interesting to purveyors of merger and consolidation services, the core software that these banks use tickle my curiosity.

Bank Website Software
Access Bank www.accessbankplc.com FLEXCUBE
Afribank www.afribank.com Globus
BankPHB www.bankphb.com T24
Citibank www.citigroup.com/nigeria FLEXCUBE
Diamond Bank www.diamondbank.com FLEXCUBE
Ecobank www.ecobank.com FLEXCUBE
Equitorial Trust Bank www.equitorialtrustbank.com Globus
Fidelity Bank www.fidelitybankplc.com Finacle
First Bank of Nigeria www.firstbanknigeria.com Finacle
First City Monument Bank www.firstcitygroup.com Finacle
FinBank www.finbank.com.ng Finacle
Guaranty Trust Bank www.gtbank.com Basis
Intercontinental Bank www.intercontinentalbankplc.com FLEXCUBE
Oceanic Bank www.oceanicbanknigeria.com Finacle
Skye Bank www.skyebankng.com FLEXCUBE
Spring Bank www.springbankplc.com Finacle
Stanbic IBTC Bank www.ibtc.com Equinox
Standard Chartered Bank www.standardchartered.com/ng eBBS
Sterling Bank www.sterlingbankng.com Banks
Union Bank www.unionbankng.com FLEXCUBE
United Bank for Africa www.ubagroup.com Finacle
Unity Bank www.unitybankng.com Banks
Wema Bank www.wemabank.com Globus G10*
Zenith Bank www.zenithbank.com Phoenix

*Notes:

  • Stanbic IBTC is concluding its migration to Finacle which goes live on July 1, 2011
  • Wema Bank has started a project to migrate to Finacle and should be concluded within a year

The software Lineup

Now (2011) Next year (2012)
  • Finacle – 7 (29%)
  • FLEXCUBE – 7 (29%)
  • Globus/T24 – 4 (17%)
  • Basis/Banks – 3 (13%)
  • eBBS – 1(4%)
  • Equinox – 1 (4%)
  • Phoenix – 1 (4%)
  • Finacle – 9 (38%)
  • FLEXCUBE – 7 (29%)
  • Basis/Banks – 3 (13%
  • Globus/T24 – 3 (13%)
  • eBBS 1 (4%)
  • Phoenix – 1 (4%)

Finacle is a complete suite of banking application from Infosys, one of the largest technology companies in India.

FLEXCUBE is from Oracle Financial Services. FLEXCUBE was initially i-Flex software but the company was bought by Oracle in 2005 during one of its famous spending sprees. A bit of history: FLEXCUBE was originally developed by Citibank and was spurned off as Citicorp Information Technologies Industries Limited, an independent company. FLEXCUBE is highly regarded globally with about 700 installations in 125 countries and has won Core Banking Solution of the Year and Application of the Year from The Banker.

Equinox is a rich functional universal banking solution from the Neptune Software Plc. of UK with has about 60 installations across the world.

Globus is the older version of T24. Both Globus and T24 are from Temenos of Switzerland. Before the consolidation, Globus had 15 installations in some of the biggest banks in Nigeria but has since lost ground during the 2004/5 banking consolidation to Finacle.

Basis and Banks are from ICS Financial Services, a midsize Jordanian/UK software company with about 45 installations worldwide.

Despite the fact that the Nigerian market is dominated by 2 major software from India, the core banking software business is rich and varied worldwide. To read more about other banking systems, head over to http://www.inntron.co.th/corebank.html.