The Federal Government through the National Population Commission (NPC) has signed a landmark deal with Nigeria’s leading integrated technology brand, Zinox, for the supply of the tech components and other accessories for the 2023 national census project, further justifying President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s commitment on local content promotion.
The contract, worth over N85bn, was recently awarded to Zinox after ratification by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
Zinox, which has already commenced supply of the first batch of about 100,000 units of the Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) devices required for the nationwide enumeration, emerged the undisputed and preferred technical partners for the exercise after scaling a rigorous bid process involving other local and international competitors.
Feelers from senior sources at the Presidency and within the NPC indicate that Zinox stood out in the intense series of background checks conducted to affirm the capacity, experience, integrity and ethical standing of the bidders, with the technology giant also meeting the rating as an indigenous technology powerhouse with global connections which has consistently enjoyed the confidence of leading Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and other tech heavyweights the world over.
This, it was learnt, earned it an overwhelming endorsement by the Federal Government for the project. Also, to its credit is the fact that it was Zinox that rescued the nation’s voter registration exercise in 2006 and 2010 when big foreign tech companies contracted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) could not deliver as scheduled.
Zinox used its Z-Pad smart device to lay the foundation for Nigeria’s digital democracy upon which INEC is building on today. The smooth execution of the over $200m INEC contract in 2010 added impetus to the profile of Zinox as a strong indigenous company with capacity and competence.
Chairman, Zinox Group, Leo Stan Ekeh, said that the company had built a system of integrity and a record of excellence, both in Nigeria and internationally. Further, Ekeh noted that until there was a credible data census figure, the country cannot plan well.
Also, Managing Director, Zinox Technologies, Mrs. Kelechi Okonta, said: “It is a privilege for the Federal Government to consider us among many other companies in the world. They know we have the capacity. We are deploying all our resources to make sure it is successful.”
The 2023 census, scheduled to hold between March and April, will be the fifth to be conducted by the Nigerian government since independence in 1960 and it is coming 17 years since the last edition which was held in 2006 under the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo.
President Buhari, who has not hidden his desire to bequeath to the next administration a useful, reliable and credible databank which captures Nigeria’s salient socio-economic and demographic information to underpin proper national planning, has thrown his weight behind efforts by the NPC to ensure a successful exercise. To this end, Zinox on Friday, February 3, 2023 hosted a high-powered delegation of commissioners and management team of the NPC led by the Chairman, Hon. Nasir Isa Kwarra, where the first 100,00 units of the digital devices were presented to the commission.
It could be recalled that Zinox introduced automation of Nigerian elections, first with the introduction of the Direct Data Capture (DDC) machines which helped to clean up the nation’s voter register and later the card reader which enhanced credibility of elections in Nigeria in recent years.
Zinox had also executed major projects offshore in Guinea Bissau, The Gambia and the Arab nations through partnerships.
The handover ceremony which was held in one of Zinox’s massive warehousing facilities in Lagos, saw the cutting-edge features of the PDAs unveiled to a mixed audience, including representatives of the NPC and sections of the media. Encrypted with census questionnaire and maps to direct enumerators to assigned enumeration areas, the devices were hailed as key components in the conduct of an exercise that would not only meet global standards but equally ensure accuracy of data collected.
The NPC Chairman noted that the 2023 census would signal a new dawn in housing and human headcount in Nigeria as there would be no over-counting or under-counting, adding that the devices, when commissioned with the forms, maps and other digital enhancements, would ensure that enumerators are unable to go beyond the areas assigned to them. In addition, he commended Zinox for the dedication, commitment and huge capacity displayed in the way it has commenced execution of the contract.
He noted that the software (App) that would be deployed to enable and activate the PDAs was locally developed, thus fulfilling President Buhari’s Executive Order on local content, as well as the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) regulation on Local Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) in the procurement of the PDA devices.
The NPC Chairman said: “With all enhancement that the National Population Commission is provisioning the devices with, e.g, the Mobile Device Management, we can monitor the enumerators on the field and ensure that the data provided by Nigerians are secured and well managed for their privacy.
‘‘The geospatial resources that NPC has acquired will be deployed on the devices. This will ensure that all Nigerians are counted where they are and live. We will also be able to collect statistics on housing type and characteristics for better physical and social planning by government for the nation.
‘‘The homeless will be counted, tied to their usual place of abode, referenced with geo-coordinates; the Special Population: nomads, migrants, people in transit, etc, will be counted with geo-reference to where they are found at the time of the Census. Everyone will be counted because all Nigerians count,” he noted.