The Association of Maritime Journalists of Nigeria (AMJON) has bestowed an award of honor on Nigeria’s frontline maritime Information and Communication Technology (ICT) firm, Webb Fontaine .
The award which was presented to the firm recently in Sheraton hotel Ikeja Lagos at the 2022 annual conference and award put together by Association of Maritime Journalist of Nigeria (AMJON) was presented in recognition of the company’s impeccable reputation and contributions to national economic growth through reliable ICT solutions to trade for government and private institutions in the country.
Also for value-adding innovations like the Nigerian Integrated Customs Information System (NICIS) and other solutions. Having helped the Nigeria Customs Service to attain annual trillion naira revenue collections since 2017.
Responding to questions by newsmen at the event, the Managing Director of the company, Mr. Ope Babalola, who received the award on behalf of the firm appreciated the organizers with a promise to continue to do more in ensuring better ICT trade solution for the country.
Reacting to questions on server breakdown, Mr Babalola refutes Customs’ server breakdown and called for a probe into the recent repeated disruptions of the server, stating that their servers are up and functional for 99 per cent and more of the time.
He hinted that the reports were done without proper research on the issue. He stated that Webb Fontaine would prefer a more accurate reporting of exactly what is happening at the ports with respect to the servers.
According to him, several things could go wrong, which can be a very small action like someone switching off a light switch on a wall or an officer refuses to take an action with the excuse of server breakdown..
Adding that he wont want to blame the situation on a lack of capacity or competence on the part of the customs officials operating the platforms, insisting rather that “over the years, they have been extensively trained and many of them are very good at the job. I think some of them will be surprised at these frequent reports of server breakdown that aren’t true.”
He dismissed fears on Webb Fontaine’s role after customs’ full modernisation, stating that the agency already operates a paperless system. He noted that the Customs platform covers almost all Nigerian agencies in the trade cycle except a few key ones, like the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), which are not yet in.
“We are hoping that when the NPA gets its automation done, we can work together, so that everything could go smoothly,” he said.
He disclosed that Webb Fontaine runs a fully automated and functional port community system in Benin Republic and several other countries which integrate with Customs and other port operators.
In his words “Those countries are really enjoying the best of everything derivable from automation and I don’t see why we can’t do the same in Nigeria.
However, different targets might be impeding a common goal, as the ports in Nigeria are under the Ministry of Transportation, Customs under the Ministry of Finance, and Trade under the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
“So, in Nigeria we have three different ministries, sometimes with different objectives and goals. They also usually have different areas of interest and varying opinions on the best way to advance Nigeria’s trade and commerce. Transportation Ministry’s focus might be a little bit different from Finance Ministry’s, while the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s point of view is also a bit different.
“There is a very important need to put all of them together so that there is a single focus and single drive towards a one-stop shop for proper automation. We already have about 90 per cent of that in customs’ single window (trade.gov.ng).
“Most of the agencies are there, so I would suggest that those agencies that aren’t there join the platform and everything can be harmonised.”
Commending the company for the honor well deserved, Mr Ismail Aniemu, publisher of JournalNg said the ICT trade provider solution firm is known for its value-adding innovations like the Nigerian Integrated Customs Information System (NICIS) and other solutions. Having helped the Nigeria Customs Service to attain annual trillion naira revenue collections since 2017.
He stressed the importance to the survival of the Nigerian economy, the reported support the company is giving to not less than 14 agencies of the Federal Government to achieve transparent revenue generation.
Aniemu also said that recent feats that promote a sustainable blue economy in the Nigerian maritime sector like Customs cargo tracking being tested in Lagos and seamless integration of the Lekki Deep Seaport with Lagos Free Trade Zone are indeed laudable feats.
He further said that the company’s provision of the ICT backbone for Nigeria’s first automated deep blue seaport in Lekki and the LFZ is a worthy trade master stroke.
According to him, this will engender transparent faster ship turnaround time and assurance of cargo, crew and vessel security using the Webb Fontaine solutions within one of West Africa’s largest and business trans-shipment hubs