‘Gbemi Oyeneyin is Managing Director/CEO, ISN Telematics Limited as well as National President, Telematics Association of Nigeria (ATON), an umbrella body for fleet management, data monitoring and assets tracking. In this interview with Ibrahim Apekhade Yusuf he speaks on the challenges and prospects of the tracking industry amongst others. Excerpts:
What is the potential of the telematics ecosystem in Nigeria? Not much is known about this organisation you lead.
I became the National President of Telematic Association of Nigeria (ATON) in December 2014. That came about because the Association required branding and then the network supervising ministry, which is the Ministry of Communications and of course, the Federal ministry of communications wanted an organised body because there were too many tracking companies without portfolios operating in the country then, without integrity, standard and all that. And so we had to start serious campaign, mobilisation and we got the NCC involved in helping to setting some standards. They actually went round to close down some Companies that were not registered because for any member of ATON, you must be registered with the NCC. And that takes a whole lot of scrutiny, security checks from the SSS, who will run a check of the companies’ directors, to ensure the people on the team are not fraudulent people and all that. You also require all registration with the CAC documents, audited accounts have to be up to date.
For us, it took us a year and half to be dully registered to show you how tedious the process was so that at least there could be standards. As at today we’ve about 50plus licensed tracking companies that are members. Since then we’ve been maintained standards aimed at sanitising the industry. Today if you’re looking for genuine and standard tracking company, you know where to go.
As at today there’s no insurance company can engage the services of any unregistered tracking company. The NCC in collaboration with NAICOM had to mandate all the insurance companies that they’ll be penalised if they deal with touts.
The tracking companies is still an emerging industry in the country compared to other countries,
Global market share and where does Nigeria fits?
What affects tracking companies equally affect insurance, especially in this part of the world. Our own attitude here is that it’s only people that have money that either insures or install tracking devices in their vehicles. A lot of people fail to realise that tracking is a form of insecurity. When we started few years ago, most people didn’t even believe that it could work. But at the end of the day, when people saw that their vehicles are being recovered, they began to have a change of mind about the possibilities, with success stories about recovery in Cotonou, Benin Republic and all that. But as at today, I know that we’ve not covered 20% of the market.
People still believe that when they buy a new car, they will take it to their pastors and Alfa’s to pray for them and all that, so that nobody will steal it.(laughs).
Nobody ever prays for incidents but when it happens they all turn jelly. I get sms,where people would say, oh, someone’s vehicle has been stolen and all that. Of course, the first question I normally ask is if the vehicle has a tracker. Once they tell me know, l normally ask them how do we perform magic to bring back such a car.
Our work really helps the police a lot. Like a vehicle we recovered from hoodlums in December, right from the control room in Lagos here, we were able to track the vehicles’ location and within one hour the vehicle we recovered. So it’s when things happened that people tend to be careful and vice versa.
And that’s why we are still carrying out more enlightenment campaigns to encourage people. With the kind of mind-set that we have, there’s need for a lot of education. Of course, tracking devices have witnessed lots of revolution lately. The new devices now have apps that can help you to track fuel consumption, monitoring and surveillance, and all that. For those in transport businesses, tracking is absolutely necessary. We have a lot of cab companies which require everyone on their platforms, particularly franchise drivers to have trackers in their vehicles. It’s a most for them. Those in haulage business too must have trackers. For some businesses, especially haulage, having trackers in their vehicles is very crucial. With the device that we have now, you can even monitor fuel consumption easily right from your palmtops. It’s all value added services, for saving cost. I was coming to work one day, I saw a driver in a posh vehicle parking by the bus stop to pick passengers just because of the N200-500 he wants to make. If one day the driver picks armed robbers have passengers what do you think will happen to that car? These are possibilities.
Technology for some of these things are alien to us even though we are trying to take charge. In the past there have been cases of tracking devices in vehicles being demobilised. That’s one of the fears being expressed by many today. Are the tracking companies in Nigeria on top of their game?
It’s because of stories like these that the Association came in to sanitise the business. It’s not just about installing a device. The question is what kind of device? How durable is the device? How effective is the device? Because there are so many inferior devices from the Middle East and all,very cheap ones. Nigerians don’t know that when it’s cheap, it’s for monkeys. If you want a device that’s going to be okay for you, it has to be certified by relevant agencies, meet some standard international specifications and all that.
For ISN Telematics, we work for the best insurance companies, amongst other big businesses so we can’t just use any device. Another reason is connivance because we’ve also had situations series of cases where the driver knew there was tracker in the vehicle and when he was sent somewhere, he used the opportunity to branch at a rewirers shop and search for the devices and had it disconnected. So what we do now is that there’s a time bomb alert that if power goes off from the device, it’s going to alert us straight. It’s called power tamper alarm. Once power goes off, it’s going to keep buzzing until somebody attends to it from the backend.
That’s what we have done. Once this happens, there’s going to be a report of the time, location, date that the power went on.
Even for investigative purposes those are the reports sent to the police.
The third thing is that time is of the essence in tracking a vehicle.
To enhance efficiency, clients are given access themselves using apps installed on their phones to do a lot of things. Even if there’s a theft, the moment they drop you off the vehicle whether they take your phones or not, as long as you know the code and the secret device number for you to have access, the device you dial it, it’ll ring twice and send you location report on the Google maps. As long as you know your device ID, anybody can dial it on any network.
These days it’s easier for us to communicate with the police nationwide. In those days, there were instances where vehicle is stolen in Onitsha along a particular location with descriptions and all that, but for weeks they’ll be looking for the vehicle still or sometime they don’t have fuel in their vehicles and all. But all that has changed as there a lot of improvement as far as our relationship with the police is concerned.
What’s your level of collaboration with Interpol?
Yes we work with the Interpol and that’s the standard. We have recovered vehicles from Cameroun, Benin and all that. As long as there’s network coverage it’s possible with the use of international sim cards because we realised that once they snatch any vehicle they’re going outside the borders. If they take your vehicle from part of the south west, you can be sure that the destination would be Cotonuo. And if it’s in south-east , it’s going to be Cameroun. That’s why we resorted to the use of international sim cards to help with monitoring and tracking outside our shores.
Level of support from the Interpol?
It’s been superb.
What of response time?
You know the GSM has also made communication very easy because even today police have whazapp numbers where you can send pictures, maps, abd all that. Communication has made recovery easy. In those days we had to carry a navigator almost everywhere just to be able to track a missing vehicle. It was very cumbersome.
But today, with Google maps, all that is a piece of cake. It’ll just guide you to the place from the comfort of your office or home.
Do Nigerians have the expertise to track companies? What’s required?
The first thing is, you must be licensed by the NCC. The basic requirement of course is that you must register a limited liability company with a minimum of 10million share capital with directors, bank accounts.
You must have an audited account. It cost over a million naira to complete registration.
If you have to set up your own sever, it’s also comes with a lot of cost.
In terms of skills, we have local expertise.
Besides, you must have a minimum N10million indemnity bond with an insurance company.
What’s the value of the Telematics industry in Nigeria in terms of how much you can generate by way of revenue?
We have over 6,000 vehicles being managed by us alone. So even if you multiply that by an average of say N5million, as an average of the 6,000, you’re talking about N30billion from ISN Telematics alone. It’s huge. But people don’t realise that our work is so important. If one company alone can manage N30billion worth of assets, it’s not easy because we’ve been in business for over 10 years. Multiply that by say another 50 licensed tracking companies, that’s huge because we’re talking about almost N1.5trillion.
In terms of institutional support, how has it been?
Like I said earlier, the NCC in 2014, helped to stop the unlicensed tracking companies from operating. That is why as at today, there’s no insurance company that would work with any unlicensed tracking company. It’s all due to the support from the NCC and NAICOM. The main problem now is with companies outside insurance.
We’re really enjoying anything much from the government anymore in terms of policy support and all that. Beyond what the NCC and NAICOM did two years ago, we still require a lot of support.
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