A group of media practitioners in Abuja have honored the general of Abuja water board, Engr. Aliya Ahmed Nahuche. This was because of the new billing system he introduced in collecting revenue from water consumers in the FCT. It is also known as “SmartBills”.
The FCT Water Board has always strived to set the pace as the leader in Nigerian Water Utility Service provision. In achieving this tasking leadership role, technology has been the bedrock of its services and processes. FCT Water Board was among the 1st FCTA Agencies to automate its billing and customer management operation. This was achieved by the development and deployment of an on premises relational database management system.
The first on premises relational database management system served the FCT Water Board in achieving its minimal goals, but as the FCT’s populations grew exponentially and technology evolved at infinitesimal rates, FCT Water Board’s technology became retarded in meeting operational and customers’ demands.\
The FCT Water Board was subjected to various challenges which affected the following areas of its operations:
Multiple and reoccurring billing irregularities due customer meter reading errors,
Customer payment non-reflections and reconciliations problems,
Customers Estimated billing reoccurrences,
With the assumption of duty as the 1st General Manager of the FCT Water Board, Engr. Aliyu Ahmed Nahuche was determined to eliminate the existing challenges the FCT Water Board was facing in its operations and service delivery. The new General Manager used all the necessary resources and partnerships available to him in setting the environment for a technological change and efficient rebirth of the FCT Water Board to 21st Century Water Utility service provider.
As part of efforts to address the existing challenges, the General Manager had engaged JICA (Japanese International Cooperation Agency) Experts to partner with the FCT Water Board in addressing it problems. JICA on its part assessed the Boards internal business processes and launched the Nigerian Open Innovation challenge in mid-2019.
The Nigerian Open Innovative Challenge presented FCT Water Board’s existing problems to willing Technology startups and Fintechs to proffer innovative technology solutions that would address the following 3 cycle in FCT Water Board’s business process;
The Nigerian Open Innovative Challenges drew 40+ indigenous Nigerian Technology Startups and Fintechs from all over the nation, assessments of the startup’s solutions were done by JICA and FCT Water Board experts in the 3 cycle areas. At the end of the challenge Jaffa Technologies Ltd emerged as winners with their Smart bills solution.
They were further given a 3 month proof of concept (PoC) contract to develop and deploy their solution to a pilot location within the FCT Water Board’s service area.
Jaffa Technologies Ltd working closely with the FCT Water Board’s Management Information System Unit rolled out their development strategy for the Smart bills platform.
Smart Bills would be FCT Water Board Core Cloud Computing Platform which would be online. 24/7. The platform would also be equipped with innovation technologies from Microsoft’s Azure Cloud platform which would include:
End of End Security,
Resilient Online Virtual Service,
Artificial Intelligence Engines,
Jaffa Technology Ltd and FCT Water Board commenced the innovation technology transformation with the redevelopment of the FCT Water Board online web portal. The allowed customers to interact with the portal for:
Viewing of monthly bills,
Online payment of bills,
Lodging of complaints,
Accessing of information on FCT Water Board.
The FCT Water Board portal was integrated with leading Nigerian payment gateways Systems Specs REMITA and eTranzacts Pay Outlet. The integration with the payment gateways would help the FCT Water Board eliminate payment non-reflections as customers payments could only be made upon automated billing account validation. The integration would also allow FCT Water Board carry out auto payment validations eliminating human errors.
The project also saw the creation of Smart Bills management portal. The management portal would give FCT Water Board top level management, middle level management and operational staff the ability to monitor;
Incoming Revenue on a real time basis,
Individual Customers payments,
Customers Meter Readings,
FCT Water Board Area Office Revenue and Meter Reading performance/metrics,
Individual FCT Water Board Operation staff performance,
Collection performance by banks.
The SmartBills would also provide satellite imagery on customers meters that where read by FCT Water Board Meter Readers. This segment of SmartBills would help the FCT Water Board Management monitor and ensure that meter readers would read meters of the proportion of customers using mechanical meters, thus eliminating estimated bills and meter reading errors.
As part of providing ease of customers payments FCT Water Board partnered with Nibox an automated self-managed cash receiving terminal. Customers were now able to visit designated FCT Water Board Area Office whatever time of the day and make payment through the NiBox Terminals.
Customers could also make payments from the comfort of their homes through the FCT Water Board Web portal fctwb.gov.ng
Engr. Ahmed Aliyu Nahuche has set a solid foundation for the SmartBills Online platform as he has envisaged that it would the FCT Water Boards Cloud Computing using Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Integration Capabilities to plug into any water utility technology current and future.
FCT Water Board is sure to achieve is vision leadership role and beyond in Nigeria and African Water Utility Service Provision.
After receiving the award, Nahuche said his organization and the media need to work in synergy in order to inform and educate consumers of the benefits of the new billing system.