Chairman of Avidor Services Limited, Prof. Oladapo Afolabi, who is former Head of Service of the Federation (HoSF), in this interview, speaks on the expectation of his newly- commissioned outfit, a smartcard solution provider, to become a major player not only in Nigeria but also in Africa. BOLA BADMUS brings these excerpts:
Can you tell us what motivated you into establishing this particular company?
This company is an ICT company and you know the rest of the world is going on ICT and what we find in Nigeria is that we are really not there yet in terms of ICT. This is one activity or an enterprise that can really ensure that Nigeria gets to that point.
The motivation for me is that I not only want Nigeria as a nation to be a major player in the ICT opportunity, but also upcoming Nigerians to be big players. This is one centre where the major focus is to provide services and make money. It is also a research and training centre for upcoming Nigerians they can use, to not only compete in the present world, but also in the future.
What are the potentials for us as a country?
Well here, you find that we are still scratching the surface of the market for many reasons. One, because our technological base is weak; the intellectual preparedness, the skill that is required, the manufacturing support and the infrastructure are not there. In fact, the policy that should drive our major participation in the ICT world is still lacking.
So we have come to do something, to use it as a launch pad for research and for business practice.
How much of buy-in have you seen from corporate Nigeria?
For us, everybody wants what we are marketing, everybody wants what we are producing to say that it is almost a sellout market.
The issue of card integrity has been of concern to many Nigerians, what do you think card manufacturing companies like you can do to improve on the level of card integrity?
On the issue of card integrity, I can say that the way the process is designed is security based. The security here as you can see is even bigger than where people mint money. Here all you require is right hand information for you to be fraudulent. So we not only ensure that our production facility is highly secured, we also have outside facility security so that if a break-in in any firm happens, there is a prompt response. The other thing is that the kind of software support that we have is almost fool-proof, like we never had at any time. When a Visa or a Mastercard has been hacked into because they are a moving target, we ensure that the way they write the programme changes ahead of any hacker. That is why I am more or less placing our integrity on the line for this kind of activity.
How do you project this company in the next five years in terms of production activity?
Well, God giving us life, it is a small beginning in my opinion, we intend to be a major player in the next five years. We will not only be a major player in Nigeria, we want to be a major player in West Africa and Africa at large through so many other services that we provide. Here, we want to be the manufacturing hub for West Africa and the rest of Africa in this kind of business.
In other climes, we see that a lot of services like the transport services for instance in the UK are operated on card services, is that something your company is also considering in the nearest future?
We have the platform, we have the equipment to manufacture, that is the advantage we have. Many others just have the platform, they don’t have the software. We have both and we are already talking to Lagos State government and to the Railways to see that this kind of beautiful, seamless way of consuming services provided in the transport sector is also enjoyed in Nigeria.