…Continued from the previous edition
Kenneth Chinenyeze Nwosu is a first-class engineer, an IT professional, an e-health practitioner, and a sustainability enthusiast, who holds an MBA in Information Technology, a Project Management Professional Certification (PMP) and MSc in Health Informatics. The graduate of the University of Benin, who believes that Nigeria’s problems can only be solved by Nigerians, is currently the President of SITNigeria. In the concluding part of this interview with Edward Nnachi, Senior Correspondent, he said the era when sick and tired Nigerians would wait for an unnecessarily long time in the hospital to see a doctor was over…
• Health informatics is somewhat new in this country. Could you please demystify the concept, so that, laymen like us can understand it?
Health informatics, which is new not only in Nigeria but virtually on the entire continent of Africa, is the deployment of IT-based innovations in the delivery and management of healthcare services. It is also known as healthcare IT or simply e-health. It is an integration of resources and methods that are vital for the acquisition and management of longitudinal health records and biomedical information applied not only in clinical medicine but also in public health, pharmacy, dentistry, etc. By Longitudinal, we mean the entire patient information including patient demographics, progress notes, problems and medications, vital signs, past medical history, immunizations, laboratory data, and radiology reports. The various employable tools include, but are not limited to, computers and several other ICT systems, which are designed with a view to ensuring quality and effectiveness in the overall healthcare delivery infrastructure.
For the lay person to understand it better, let me break it down:
Scenario 1: Just imagine yourself with a medical access card which gives you and your medical provider, access to all your medical information instead of that dust-covered file in the hospital shelf which may not be accessed by the hospital admin unless you have a paper card that bears your file number. The file may be lost—never to be retrieved—once tied with the rest and archived. Worse yet, it may fall into the wrong hands. And, needless to say, it contains information that should be private and confidential.
Scenario 2: Imagine yourself having an online appointment with your doctor in the comfort of your bedroom instead of dragging your sick self all the way to the hospital.
Scenario 3: Imagine yourself having direct access to an array of medical information that is of utmost importance to your medicare and general well-being and therefore contributes immensely towards boosting your longevity and that of your spouse and kids.
Scenario 4: Imagine yourself having a medical emergency while out of station and having your access card with you right inside your wallet.
There are many more that I still have to leave to your imagination.
• We heard your team is also into training, sir. What categories of people or Nigerians are captured/targeted in your trainings?
Yes, we are also deeply involved in intensively training our young people across Nigeria, and the young at heart, on how to design and install Solar Photovoltaics (PV). This simply means the conversion of solar energy into electricity using semiconducting materials which have photovoltaic effect. We intend to collaborate with the Bank of Industry (BOI) as a result of the interesting fact that the materials we use are locally fabricated, not imported. Once this collaboration is achieved, we will extend the training beyond the borders of the country until it reaches every nook and cranny of Africa.
It is an e-programme mostly implemented via webinars and other highly interactive and innovative approaches with a sure promise to the trainee that first, the courses are taught by North-American practitioners with many years of industry experience. Secondly, the trainee is ultimately prepared for travel, for job and business opportunities, and for a lifestyle that is all about sustainability. Lastly, the initial courses are based on the curriculum of Solar Living Institute (SLI) in California, USA and, upon completion, the trainee is automatically qualified to take the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) Entry Level Exam, a veritable certification in the global solar industry.
• And how many Nigerians do you plan to train in the next three years?
Besides holding an MSc in Health Informatics from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, I hold a BSc in Electrical/Electronic Engineering from the University of Benin, Nigeria. Therefore, I know the teeming number of graduates that passed through the Engineering Faculty in my day, in the earlynineties, let alone now that the engineering facilities in the Nigerian public universities are hardly enough for the imposing horde of hapless students. What I’m saying is that the annual number of engineering graduates alone in Nigeria is staggering and these young men and women are hungry for additional knowledge and expertise, with American and/or Canadian affiliations, which would better their lives and bring about their career and/or business fulfillment. And have it in mind that we are not going to train people from this discipline alone, but people from all walks of life who have profound interest in ensuring the final realization of sustainable and renewable energy in Nigeria and, as a whole, in Africa. With these parameters placed on the table, we are talking about an annual number of 1million people across Nigeria. However, it is no over-estimation to say that that very number will certainly be more than quadrupled in the next three years.
• What are the strategies you have put in place to ensure SITNigeria thrives financially and remains sustainable in a harsh economy as ours?
Needless to say, Nigerians are tired of paying electricity bills when they hardly see the electricity in the first place. Similarly, Nigerians got tired of paying telephone bills in the nineties, when outrageous NITEL bills were then sent to them monthly, even when no phone calls were made in many cases. I know of a friend who was out of the country for a couple of months, with his house under lock and key, but came back to see a set of phone and light bills waiting for him for those months of his absence. But the positive shift in the telecom industry, which happened during the Olusegun Obasanjo civilian regime, brought tremendous sanity and a lot of fresh air to the industry and to Nigerians as a whole. So much so that, irrespective of the cost of GSM phones and SIMs then, every Nigerian was ready to subscribe to the services of the then new telecom companies. Today, the sustainability of these telecom companies, and that of their products and/or services, cannot be overemphasized. Nigerians love good things and are ready to pay dearly to have them, you know. Of course, provided those ‘good things’ are truly good. I am Canadian all right. But I’m also Nigerian. So I know my people. Nigerians know no recession, or harsh economy, or whatever you may call it, when there is some product in the market that has come to improve their lives, with a promise of quality and speed and class. To drive home my points further, Nigerians are sick and tired of having to sit for an unnecessarily long time in the hospital waiting-rooms to see a doctor. I’m pretty sure that once they hear that there is this product in the market that would ensure that they do otherwise, or that they do not even need to physically see a doctor to get prescriptions, they’ll go crazy as a result and march immediately for the product. In the case of SITNigeria, this product is the Personal Health Record System (PHRS) which will be branded accordingly when the time comes. It will be brought to the doorstep of every Nigerian by the efforts of our Marketing and Business Development Managers. In addition, we shall construct branded kiosks and get them installed in strategic locations in our cities and villages, like the branded walk-in centres of the telecom companies. Furthermore, we have other products that constitute our suite of healthcare IT services, namely the Electronic Health Record System (EHRS) and Disease Surveillance System (DSS). Ultimately, a number of state governments have got our back, so to speak. Therefore, the better part of our solar and healthcare IT operations are government-driven.
• Where do you plan to be in the ‘world’ of solar power generation, health IT and job creation riding on the back of your company seven years from now?
Having given you the big picture in great detail as to what our four core areas of operations mean to us and our highly esteemed subscribers, I am confident that the bigger picture, seven years from now, will cover the entire African continent, so that we have an Africa that is ubiquitously illuminated with solar power, an Africa whose healthcare delivery infrastructure has gone completely electronic, an Africa that boasts of young experts in the provision of sustainable and renewable energy, an Africa that is crime-free, simply because her people are gainfully employed on the platform of TaskNibbler. Ultimately, as a result of the concerted effort being made to engrave our brand in the heart of every African, we shall have franchises to sell to everyone on the face of the continent who is interested in identifying with the brand and, subsequently, in opening a start-up with it in order to make an honorable living from it.
• You are working on a multi-year healthcare IT and solar power projects in partnership with some states in the country. Are you swinging into action with these states on these projects in a swoop or are you taking them one state at a time?
We all know that projects, under close supervision, are usually executed in phases, and the finances disbursed in tranches, otherwise they would not be successfully executed. It is commonsense. In fact, ours are not mere projects; they are jumbo projects, i.e. projects of very high magnitude which involves extensive collaboration with not only the state governments but also with partners in Europe and North America. Therefore, we cannot bite more than we can chew. Even if we can, we will not. Presently we are working on a pilot intended to help us resolve all possible kinks before scaling. To control scope, we have the following states signed up for our pilots: Cross River, Niger, Delta, and Kebbi. Once we kick off with these ones, others (just another few number) will follow. Taking it this way, one step at a time, we will gradually cover the country and, in the final analysis, the rest of Africa.
• Could you please tell us about yourself, sir?
My name is Kenneth Chinenyeze Nwosu, a first-class product of Holy Ghost College, Owerri, Imo State. Having worked in a number of telecom companies in Lagos in the mid- and late-nineties, after I graduated from the University of Benin and served the nation as an NYSC member, I migrated to North America where I obtained an MBA majoring in IT, a Project Management Professional Certification (PMP), and, like I mentioned earlier, an MSc in Health Informatics.
The burden in me to be a part of the unit of the global economy that seeks to proffer solution to the problems that impact society caused me to do something meaningful in that direction by integrating all these credentials to constitute a team of people who think like me. And the hunger to help solve these problems in Nigeria and Africa could not be any stronger, fuelled by my belief that the solutions to Africa’s problems can only be championed by Africans…and in the same vein, Nigeria’s problems can only be solved by Nigerians. This gave rise to the incorporation of Speaking IT Canada Inc. and Solar, Infotech & TaskNibbler Nig. Ltd headquartered in Ontario and Abuja, respectively.
My family and I divide our time between Canada and Nigeria.