Olamide Ogunlola is the Executive Director Operations at Costech Computers, a first-rate ICT firm implementing digital designs, construction solutions, infrastructure, manufacturing and project management spaces as a gold partner for Autodesk in Nigeria. In this interview with Evelyn Osagie, he shares interesting insights on how ICT will farethis year. Excerpts:
What in your view is the estimated revenue we can generate from ICT in 2023 and beyond?
ICT will be a major driver of the economy in the New Year: revenue depends on infrastructure, the better the infrastructure, the greater the revenue. To ensure profitable returns, there is an urgent need to install uninterrupted power supply, or tapping from solar power. This will ensure that the smart digital sensors for security work well. Without proper security, the crime rate will increase where laptops and computers are stolen Revenue also depends on the sector of the economy e.g. the ports and airports need advanced digital technology for efficiency and greater revenue
How much can we generate revenue from ICT to help boost our GDP?
Three components are required to enable ICT generate revenue to boost our GDP. These includes first of all creating smart digital systems framework for greater efficiency; developing innovative strategies for synergy in connecting professionals and finally, building sustainable structures that leverage the internet of things and protect the environment. With these said ICT can be our major source of revenue generation for our economy in billions of dollars.
The knowledge of Building Information Modeling among professionals in the building and construction industry is still at a very low level. Universities and lecturers should be provided with adequate manpower to drive technology required for sustainable infrastructure. Parents also have a crucial role to play, in ensuring early exposure of their children to ICT knowledge early enough, by encouraging their wards in participating in training, ICT workshops or internship programmes. For now, the required manpower is not adequate. ICT in banks only benefits a few people although more entrepreneurs have emerged. That is why the poverty and unemployment rate is reducing daily in that sector. While ICT in construction and agriculture industries are still the lowest adoptors. If we are not strategic concerning ICT, it will actually take jobs away from people. ICT has the tendency to make the rich richer and the poor poorer if the components above are not put in place first
What can be done to address the issue of digital divide given our peculiarity as a nation with low internet penetration, poor infrastructure, etc?
Provision of enabling environment (infrastructure) and expertise knowledge of ICT cannot be overemphasised. ICT knowledge, practical training and forums should be well encouraged from primary schools to university levels. Measurable government policies should be put in place to ensure sustainable ICT knowledge transfer and adoption in Nigeria. ICT should be integrated and applied into the economy, for instant, in transportation, agriculture, security, economy planning, building framework as smart buildings, etc. Whether you are in school, hospital, hotel, bus stop, etc., there can be touch screens embedded in the walls or furniture. This gives ICT access to everyone regardless of your financial status. Thereby making ICT knowledge inevitable, in order to produce more and maintain existing infrastructures.
How is your company set to leverage on this?
As an ICT Company that provides consulting services and solutions for advanced digital transformational applications, ahead of time, Costech is doing advocacy in Nigeria and training. We bridge the gap between academia and the industry. We know what is obtainable in the industry and then we try to help our students get prepared so that when they graduate, they are able to do what they want. We have been doing this by organising conferences like the Smart City Conference that we do yearly. We also do this by engaging with educational institutions like universities. Presently, we have collaboration with higher institutions, such as University of Lagos, University of Maiduguri, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, among others. We do this by providing insights, advocacy, training and also implementations of these products from Autodesk and Oracle. We are a gold partner of Autodesk in Nigeria; that means we are the number one partner of Autodesk in Nigeria. The technology is Autodesk, the training and the implementation is CosAtech. We have Oracle database and construction engineering global business unit that includes projects, project management solutions and for advanced digital transformational applications. These applications include building in formation modeling, AutoCAD. We have digital manufacturing as well for industries that are into manufacturing who need to digitalised their entire operations. We also have what we call a project portfolio. Project portfolio is for project management; how do you manage projects either on a construction site, building site, and anything that has to do with a project. These are the kinds of applications that we do. Other ways we do this also is by collaborating with corporate bodies like the Nigerian Society of Engineers, Nigerian Institute of Architects, among others.
What is the role that you think your kind of technology can play in safeguarding the incidence of building collapse and infrastructure decay?
The reason is that there is a bridge of communication between all the different professionals in the construction industry on the lifecycle of a particular project. What we have noticed is that they have been working solo: they have not collaborated as they should. And technology will help in a great deal to bridge the gap.
For instance, they don’t know the expiration dates of maybe the materials that were used. They don’t have an insight into how that particular building can be maintained. Or even the facility managers don’t have the basic drawings of that building, probably because it is old or something. So, what that technology does is to bring data. Data is what we are talking about, from the point at which you have the conceptual dream of having to do a particular project to when you will be doing the facility management that is 10 years, 20 years, 30 years down the line. You still have access to the same data which we are talking about.
During construction, what happens is that the architect has done a design; the structural engineer does not have access to that particular drawing and does not know the structural integrity of that particular project. I am not even talking about trying to cut cost, but the owner is able to have an insight into what the architect is doing. What the structural engineer and the mechanical engineer are doing is being coordinated together using BIM. BIM is Building Information Modeling where you have all the professionals whatever project they want to do on a single project, having them as a unified model in 3D. So what the technology does is to enable us to coordinate all the models, all the drawings as a model so that you can navigate and you can detect clashes, before it is constructed. You can see the constructability virtually before it is being produced.