How technology can enable a progressive State Government

Editor’s Note: This guest post was written by Mark Essien (CEO, Hotels.ng) and first appeared on his Medium blog and has been republished on Techloy with his permission. In the post, Mark proposed Internet & Access, Power, Anti-Corruption and Transparency, Education, Industry & Work and Innovation as the six pillars that could enable a State Government to thrive in a 21st century economy.

Pillar 1: Internet & Access

The Internet is the biggest method by which people can educate themselves and connect with the rest of the world. We need to make the internet free and accessible to everyone.

To ensure that it works commercially, we convince the telcos to provide free 2G access to everyone, while faster access remains paid.

To make it possible that those who need 4G+ internet at low cost can receive it, the Government will provide vouchers for free, fast internet. These vouchers will be available to those who undertake online jobs for the Government — in particular online teaching of those with access to teachers, and editing and fixing of content on Government websites.

The Government will have a default portal, which will have an open job board, opportunities for buying and selling of factory equipment, as well as supply of agricultural goods.

Pillar 2: Power

Without electrical power, technology will not develop in the state. Most technology is concentrated in Laptops and Mobile phones — and these are low powered devices that typically consume less than 30watts. What we need to do then is to provide 200watt Solar panels and Solar Controllers to as many people who need it.

The Government will bulk purchase a huge number of these panels, together with the solar controllers that provide direct output appropriate to charge phones and laptops, and then resell them (at a profit) in the state at a low cost to indigenes. Competitions will be held to make sure that every serious science and engineering student receives at least one of the panels for free.

Additionally, intensive research will be made in small-scale hydropower to see how well it can function as renewable energy for rural areas.

In addition to this, every town in the state will have a 24/7 fully powered technology centre where anyone is free to walk in and claim a desk to work.

Pillar 3: Anti-Corruption and Transparency

Technology can be the most powerful tool in the anti-corruption and transparency arsenal.

The first step would be to bring all Government expenses online — they would become 100% transparent, with every single approval (by line-item) being visible online. Citizens would have the ability to comment on every expense and highlight transactions they believe are dubious.

In addition to the public expenses, all companies who wish to bid for Government projects will need to be public on the same website. They would be required to show all jobs completed in the past 3 years, as well as the details (and linkedin accounts) of all directors and key executives in the company. This will prevent shell companies from bidding for Government projects.

A central Government service portal would be developed (like exists in the UK), and each citizen would receive a single unique ID they use for all Government interaction. This portal would allow the online registration of businesses and payment of taxes by same businesses. It would allow people to register properties they own and serve as an informal resource to know who owns what land.

In addition, the central site would allow citizens to complain about civil service or security officials who behave badly. They will be able to observe the progress of Government Projects, and citizens can vote which projects they feel are the most pressing for the Government to handle.

Pillar 4: Education

Education is the key to all progress. Education has to become the best in the world for a country to be competitive globally.

The Government should build an online central learning centre that includes all public textbooks, available and downloadable for free. Video tutorials about all exam topics will be constantly created and uploaded to this website, allowing everyone to learn at their own pace. The Telcos will make downloads from this portal free as CSR.

Cheap smart phones will be bulk purchased and given out to school children as they finish primary 6. If 1 million smart phones are given out, very soon practically everyone will have a smart phone and be able to access the educational material.

In addition to this, the best performing students at the end of their bachelors degree will be given stipends to travel abroad to do a masters degree.

For those who cannot travel abroad, bulk purchases of online degrees will be acquired from sites which offer online degrees. These will be given out to students who qualify — allowing them to study for degrees at home.

Pillar 5: Industry and Work

A lot of tech companies need financing, but it is very difficult to know which tech companies are working on a good idea, and which ones are going to flop. To solve that, we will let the industry decide what the companies to fund are.

An amount of capital will be set aside for funding of tech companies. An initial set of existing and already running companies will select five new companies monthly to extend loan facilities to. The new companies then get added to the group that selects for the next months. This way the industry selects the companies that they believe in.

Additionally, Government procurement contracts in the tech industry will be provided preferentially to software companies that have a product they are selling in the open market. This encourages companies to build products and not only provide services, and ensures their longevity, while they get Government support to continue to exist.

Local tech companies will also be encouraged to raise capital using the blockchain token markets — a single central method to achieve this will be provided to companies that qualify.

Pillar 6: Innovation

Technology is innovation — that means that ground-breaking and new technologies have to be developed. To achieve this, the state will create two new centers — a science innovation center and a technology innovation center.

These centers will provide facilities for the private sector to use to attempt scientific or technology breakthroughs. In addition to that, depending on what is the cutting edge, challenges in innovation would be placed by the Government with a bounty available on achieving them.

For example, now in 2018, we should place a challenge about who can build battery powered mini-trains for cross-state transport, with such trains being solar powered.

As technology changes and matures, the annual challenges will change.

The challenge will be such that it can immediately go into commercial use — if for example a new type of transport is created to replace the Keke (tricycle), the Government will promise to mandate its usage within the state. This instantly creates a captive market for the invention, and allows capital to flow back to it to allow for improvements.

Innovation in Healthcare will also become a big focus — because rural areas do not have access to enough qualified medical professionals, tele-health will become a big research area: basically, how can doctors remotely treat people within the state.

Editor’s Note: This guest post was written by Mark Essien (CEO, Hotels.ng) and first appeared on his Medium blog and has been republished on Techloy with his permission.

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Techloy is a digital publication covering news and data about business, finance and technology, using infographics and charts to help people and brands make better decisions.

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Techloy

Techloy

Covering news and insights into technology and business in Africa. Get in touch: techloy.com@gmail.com | +2347030851462

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