Abraham Esandayinze Tanta doubles as the Chairman of Tanta Group and Managing Director of TANTA INNOVATIVE LIMITED, an indigenous IT solution provider focusing on software development. In this interaction with IT Edge News, Tanta talked about the challenges of being indigenous software developers and why the Nigerian public sector must start appreciating local software. Tanta also spoke on how his company’s internet solution is about to disrupt the delivery of internet services in the country. He spoke with Anthony Nwosu.
Tell us a bit about Tanta Innovative as a Nigerian company?
Tanta Innovative Limited, a subsidiary under Tanta Group, is a Nigerian headquartered provider of IT consulting services and custom software development with 40+ IT professionals. For over 10 years, we’ve been bringing custom and platform-based solutions to large and midsized companies in healthcare, banking, retail, telecom and other industries. With a background rooted in science, we build on our legacy knowledge and grow it in the areas of CRM, data analysis, collaboration & knowledge management and information security. As part of this journey, we partnered with Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, Magento, ServiceNow, Episerver and more tech leaders to ensure that our clients will benefit from steady reliability and originality across solutions. Currently, we are recognized with 3 Gold Microsoft competencies in application development, collaboration and content along with data analytics.
You are introducing a superfast internet that is cheap; is this disrupter?
Currently, we are focused on four solutions but the most important of all is the revolutionary internet solution we have. Although we have not taken it out to the public, but we have given it to people to use and test. We have people who use it to stream DSTV for free without buffering. The internet quality is superb. We believe once launched, we are going to take over 20% of the internet market. We also have a SIM card that you can use to make calls for free to our networks for three months but at a low cost to other networks. Before December this year, we will have it circulating in the market. Our internet solution can be said to be the right thing, cheap, fast and reliable. This is the time for government to invest and work with home grown IT professionals to create something that is from scratch in Nigeria which will be used worldwide in other countries.
What is your take on using imported technology?
Using foreign innovation is not a bad idea but we can actually create those innovations better than what they have offered us and that is what I am trying to do and that is what I am preaching. Government need to reach out to us and give us a helping hand and a listening ear to listen to the ideas we have. It is sad to say that we have been unable to get the government’s approval on the hospital software which I talked about earlier. This is a device that will save lives and we are not even asking for much money, we are just asking that they use and implement it.
How efficient can your Internet solution be when deployed?
Well, it is very efficient, having tried it over the years. It is a revolutionary solution that is poised to change the IT ecosystem in the country. The solution is an internet innovation which is faster than a traditional internet solution. It is actually the fastest because you can download 1GB of data in a minute. We are trying to do quality assessment and every other test to ensure stability and 0.01% downtime. This idea happened within my laptop; within six years I was on the alternative means of Internet as my personal project. This Internet solution bypasses any service provider between you and the satellite. What we do is that we create a medium which enables you to get access to the Internet with the help of some mechanism which we are going to set up in our data centres; we want to make an impact. Our goal is to integrate art, science and technology for the benefit of mankind. We create something that does not exist or to improve on something already existing and that is where we got our name from because we are all about innovation.
How often do you push updates for your apps?
We push updates monthly and we also make updates automatic, so the user does not have to know. We have a document, more like a description of the updates and the new features we have added, we send it via mail to the user and we also send physical copy to the administrator who have access to see the updates that have been done, the changes that have been done and the improvements made on the app.
What are the challenges you face as an entrepreneur?
One daunting challenge we face is people’s perception or default belief about us from the IT sector. They believe that when you come to me for a solution, it is either there is something you are looking for or you are trying to defraud me or it is not as good as the one I can get out there from a foreign source. We get a lot of customers saying they can go out there; get software online and cheap as well. It falls back to the default orientation that most people have about foreign software, thinking that it has superiority over local ones. They could be right in a way, I too was thinking like that before. What people don’t understand is that if you don’t give room for growth, there won’t be growth. Changing the perception of people about local products may take time so I am going to advise entrepreneurs to put whatever solution they have in the market for free in form of a demo, let the market have a feel of what it does and how it is going to help them and how it is better than what they currently use.
“This is the time for government to invest and work with home grown IT professionals to create something that is from scratch in Nigeria which will be used worldwide in other countries.”
How do you retain these fantastic skills in your workplace?
When we recruit, we don’t offer big money to our applicant. We have basic salary, but what we do is, when we work on a project, we share the income together. If we make N200 million from a project, you have your share guaranteed from that money. We have a part kept for the company’s reinvestment; part submitted to the parent company: Tanta Group and the remaining part is shared by everybody equally. So that is how we operate. I work with my team and grow with them. I want us to create solutions that will solve problems in Nigeria, Africa and globally. So, everybody wants to work with us, everyone wants to remain with us. We keep rejecting people because we receive an influx of job seekers daily. My workers know that they are not here to work and receive say N50,000 for instance, they are aware that in the course of the year, we can get multiple projects and contracts and once that is done, the profit will be shared equally among all.
“Nigeria and the world are going to be amazed by our interesting, high quality, high speed, cheap, good coverage, reliable and cost effective internet services which will be introduced, free phone calls, SMS and our SIM cards are going to be free … The Wi-Fi range is actually up to 300 meters unlike the traditional 30 meters, 40 meters.”
How would you describe the IT ecosystem in Nigeria vis-a-vis other climes?
I think that the statistics on internet usage in Nigeria can explain that we have the largest number of internet users. IT is actually on a high trend in Nigeria but the problem like we have stated earlier is the inability of the Nigerian people to try out local products. If that problem is tackled, I don’t think any country can beat us on IT. If the tomato seller who has gone to school could actually do the things I have seen him do then I don’t think that we are utilizing the talents and potential we have in this country. The IT space is growing but the acceptability of local products is very poor.
What are we to expect from Tanta Innovative in the coming months and years?
Before the end of the year, Nigeria and the world are going to be amazed by our interesting, high quality, high speed, cheap, good coverage, reliable and cost effective internet services which will be introduced, free phone calls, SMS and our SIM cards are going to be free for the duration of three (3) months. We also have Mi-Fi devices being developed in China right now that can be charged by its shell, the body of the battery case has an alternative source of charging which can be used for 3-4 weeks after full charge depending on your usage. The Wi-Fi range is actually up to 300 meters unlike the traditional 30 meters, 40 meters. We have the 1-3 kilometer range which is still under testing and not to be released to the market now because of the security implications. We are building a stronger protection for the system. Before December, the internet solution, the Mi-Fi and the SIM cards will be made available to the market. Our coverage area will only be Lagos for now, but with time we will cover the whole country.
“We get a lot of customers saying they can go out there; get software online and cheap as well. It falls back to the default orientation that most people have about foreign software, thinking that it has superiority over local ones.”