The recent introduction of Integrated Automation and Interactive Portal (IAIP) in the mining sector of the Nigerian business environment is key to improving business operation in the sector; RUTH TENE NATSA writes.
There is a new way of doing business in the Nigerian mining industry. For many, especially industry operators, the launching of Integrated Automated & Interactive Solid Minerals Portal (IAISMP) recently, is a game changer – if well implemented that will turnaround business operation in the multi-billion naira extractive industry for Nigeria. The new portal is designed to give undeniable accessibility and on the spot information to its users, while it promises to curb duplicity, and block unnecessary leakages in the sector.
According to the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the hosting of the IAISMP portal is a huge step in his ministry’s efforts at improving the Ease-of-Doing-Business in the mining sector.
In his remarks at the unveiling of the portal in Abuja last week, the Minister said “the overall objective of the project was to increase provision of reliable information and knowledge to enhance promotion of investment in the sector using technology driven innovation.
This would in turn help increase the sector’s GDP contribution significantly”.
“Part of the deliverables of this project among others include: Business Processes Re-engineering, building of a GIS Web Portal with a Business Automation System, Content Management System (CMS), Geographic Information System (GIS), Decision Support System, collaboration and upgrade of the ICT Infrastructure of the Ministry,” Dr. Kayode highlighted. He maintained that the system to be deployed is guided by the needs assessment to include Geospatial database, Perform Business Processes, credible and timely information about the mining sector, reports and statistical data generation and GIS mapping representation of resources within the country, among others.
He added that the portal is also made to serve as an input and Decision Support System to other entities of government such as Ministries of Science and Technology, Power, Works and Housing, Environment, Health, Water Resources Agriculture, Industry, Trade & Investment, Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission and Women in Mining among several others.
For Dr. Fayemi, that is not all.
He promised that he and his team “remain focused on our mandate to contribute optimally to the achievement of this administration’s strategic goal of diversifying our economy’s revenue base, creating jobs, and broadening the range of economic opportunities available to Nigerians”.
Speaking earlier, the minister of state for mines and steel development, Hon. Abubakar Bawa Bwari who noted that November 11 would mark two years when himself and Fayemi took over office in the ministry, said, “the Integrated Automation and Interactive Solid Minerals Portal, (IAISMP) is intended to ease the process of obtaining mining licenses, mineral title application, encourage online payment of royalties and provide credible and timely intervention about the sector”.
According to him “This is one innovation that from the very beginning we knew we needed for the sector to become accessible to investors. We realised that change is usually difficult, and unless you get people to buy in, you won’t get the kind of success you crave”
The minister of state said “The integrated web portal was conceived as a means of making information more accessible to players and the public alike.
Actually, it is part of the initiative we conceived in order to revamp the sector.”
Bwari who claimed that the sector was moribund when they came on board, said as a way forward, “We designed a roadmap that we hoped will take us out of the doldrums and lead us on the path to shared mining prosperity. Anyone who looks at our roadmap will notice that we have made plans that will in time make this nation a mining destination again. Some of these plans, like the legitimisation of artesanal miners, improved funding for the sector, ensuring greater cooperation between states and the federal government and raising the contribution of mining to GDP, have achieved modest success”.
He claimed that the current management of the Nigerian mining industry has made serious efforts to salvage the face of the industry, stating that there has been improvement and the future is certainly brighter now; even though as he lamented that things have not moved as fast as wished.
“However,” he said, “There are some things that will take us a while longer to accomplish even though we have articulated them all in our roadmap. As you know, this sector has a long gestation period and some of the progresses we need to make do not depend on our efforts alone.
While expressing the wish that there had been a deliberate plan to build the nation’s railway network along the its major productive corridor, he added that there were roads to the hinterlands where some of these precious resources lie beneath the earth, that our power situation was such that we had taken advantage of the coal mines in our country; we wish that we had the kind of funds that will get us the kind of bankable data that big mining companies need in order to come to our country, he maintained that all these “Are the fundamentals that will make mining thrive in any country.
So far, the minister said the ministry has set everything in motion towards attaining these goals but they are not low hanging fruits and some of them will need time to become ripe enough for plucking.
The Minister of state while expressing his appreciation to staff of the Ministry, particularly acknowledged the Permanent Secretary, Mohammed Abbas whom he said was due for to retirement, describing him “as a man who has been a pillar of support and the arrow-head of our progress since he arrived here a year ago” He said “For me personally, he has proven himself to be a friend, an adviser and a brother. As he leaves us next month, I want to use this opportunity to commend his service to this ministry, his service to his fatherland, and his service to humanity. Although his time with us has been short, it has been very memorable and we shall never forget him”.
Remarkably, hardly has the euphoria of the formal unveiling of the web portal settled down when some individuals started reading different meanings to the cost of the project put at N700 million, which many described as outrageous. Some who are conversant with Information technology, however believe there was nothing outrageous in the cost, as ICT infrastructure does not come cheap. They cited other neighbouring countries who have put similar facilities in place with budgets that ranged from $16million to $25million.
But, the ministry in a swift response contained in a statement by the Permanent Secretary, Mohammed Abbas shed more light in the matter as it said the N700m investment was on IT Infrastructure, Human Capital and Civil Works and Not Website!
According to Abbas “It is important for clarity to state that what the Ministry has acquired with the said sum of money is an integrated IT infrastructure which comprises two Data Centres, an off-site recovery centre, civil and environmental works on the Centres, running of the Centres till end of first quarter 2018, training of over 225 officials locally and internationally amongst other cost components of the entire infrastructure and programme. It is indeed disingenuous of anyone to reinvent and reduce all of these into an expenditure on a website.
Abbas said in realising aspects of the project as a turnkey solution, careful efforts were taken to follow all laid down processes. Since the cost of implementing the project is above ministerial limits, we sought and obtained the concurrence of the Federal Executive Council after a detailed presentation in January 2017.
If there is one group that showed so much excitement about the solid mineral portal, it is the Women in Mining (WIM). Its President, Janet Adeyemi who lauded the vision that produced the Portal, said the current leadership in the ministry is matching talks with work. She said the portal has thus: opened up the Nigerian Mining sector.
Adeyemi pointed out that women and children were usually the major victims of illegal and uncoordinated mining, adding that activities of licensed mining operators can now be tracked through the portal. She added that illegal mining activities and other nefarious activities can now be better tracked via the portal.
“Through the web portal, we now know all the licensed miners and where each is operating, so tracking them becomes easy. We can track you if you are not doing your social corporate responsibility, and you can be reported through the feedback section.
“The beauty of it is that you can sit down in the corner of your room in any part of the world and have relevant information on Nigeria’s mining jurisdiction and can from there pay for your licences. I think for once we are having the right synergy. We have had too much talk without work, now we are marching the talk with work.”
The Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN), also said the Ministry is gradually turning the sector to a knowledge-based sector, stressing that the introduction of the portal, in addition to other innovations is would increase the ease of doing business and accelerate the mandate of economic diversification and wealth and job creation.
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