Nigeria’s IT Problem – Process, not Automation

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I have spent the past few days trying to renew my government issued identification document. A process that took way too long and was way too cumbersome. Since the document required was a re-issue, I had gone to the agency’s portal and filled out a renewal form. I made payment and was given a date to go complete my biometric data capture.

On getting there, I was told I needed to create a file. Repeatedly, I told them it was not a new registration and I had filled the form online. Repeatedly, I was told to go get a file. I was directed to one of the business centers nearby where I could purchase a file. I had no option but to go purchase the file. In the file, I needed to write an application letter requesting for the issuance of the new document. Once again, this is not a new document but a renewal. All my data exists on the server, only thing different is the expiry date. Nothing else had changed. In the file, I also needed to include a guarantor’s document. For what? I have not committed any crime since I was issued the last identification document. What was the guarantor needed for? After compiling the document and submitting, I was told the agency had to go verify my payment. Excuse me? My payment was already verified and I had been given a capture date. “Oga, come back another day. Your payment has to be verified by another department”.

I had to get a new PHCN prepaid card sometime ago. Even though we are in 2019, I had to go to a bank to make payment into an account and bring the teller as proof of payment. In 2019.

Reviewing the hassles I went through, I realized that Nigerian agencies are still living in 1970. The processes that most of them follow were designed in the 70s before the era of technology as we experience it today. Nigerian agencies made the mistake of automating their processes instead of redesigning or re-engineering the processes. A paper focused process which adds a sprinkling of automation is like putting lipstick on a pig and sending it back to the mud.

There is a difference between rebuilding a user onboarding process and just creating a PDF version of an existing form to upload to the website.

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