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Monday, 4.12.2023
eGovernment Forschung seit 2001 | eGovernment Research since 2001

With digitization driving the global economy, no country can afford to be left behind either in its application or investment in the sector. Thus, at its inception in 2006 as a public enterprise wholly owned by the federal government, the mandate of Galaxy Backbone Limited (GBB) was well defined and straightforward – setting up and operating a unified Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure platform that addresses the connectivity, transversal and other technology imperatives for Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the federal government. The company was also charged with operating a nationwide network backbone to help facilitate the digital inclusion of underserved areas and rural communities towards the realization of the federal government goals as enumerated above.

In doing this, the organization takes the lead in the government effort to set its digital economy agenda – to leverage ICT to drive economic growth through creating jobs to enable Nigerians improve their standard of living. It has set up critical ICT infrastructure for services — connectivity, hosting and security — to businesses in private and public sectors.

Muhammad Bello Abubakar, Gombe-born professor of petroleum geosciences, has been the Managing Director/CEO of the company since 2020. Before then, he was the accounting officer and a director and a principal start-up for the establishment and development of the National Centre for Petroleum Research and Development of the Energy Commission of Nigeria, where he spearheaded a cross-cutting edge research that developed the conceptual exploration model deployed in the successful oil and gas exploration in the frontier basin of the Northeast Nigeria. He was also a Research Consultant to NNPC on oil and gas exploration.

Abubakar attended Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, where he obtained B. Tech in Applied Geology and M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Sedimentology/Petroleum Geology. He is also an alumnus of German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). His leadership ability to create new dynamics for the organisation was tested as soon as he assumed office in January, 2020. The emergence of coronavirus pandemic and the consequent economic lockdown challenged the attainment of government objectives. A new and unprecedented demand was placed on the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy to develop digital platforms for keeping the economy up and running.

As government activities leaned heavily on ICT during the lockdown in order to reduce physical interactions that could spread coronavirus, one of the value propositions of Galaxy Backbone was born of innovation in time of necessity.

GBB rose up to the challenge of the time with the support of the ministry by launching virtual interaction platforms that enabled communication and collaboration in government from the federal executive level to intra-MDA functions. Connectivity was provided at the residences of key government functionaries, which provided seamless government operations, meetings and decisions for the effective management of the pandemic.

Before Professor Abubakar came on board, GBB was faced with a range of challenges, including an organizational structure that was sub-optimal, leading to inefficiencies and challenges in decision-making processes; a disconnect from national digital objectives and policies resulting into activities that are not aligned with the supervisory ministry; poor liquidity positions and indebtedness to suppliers and other third parties for supplies and other services; poor revenue drive leading to low revenues; a generally poor working environment that is unconducive to productivity resulting into demotivation of employees; poor human resource capacity resulting in the company unable to run its operations effectively; ageing service infrastructure that is unable to deliver competitive services to customers; limited storage capacity that made it difficult to provide services effectively which impact on its ability to meet customer needs; sub-optimal LAN infrastructure at MDAs affecting their ability to optimize GBB-provided services; and poor quality of service which negatively impacted its reputation and ability to retain customers.

There is no gain-saying that in just three years and a few months of Abubakar’s leadership of GBB, he recorded a number of historic achievements to show in the implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) and Nigerian eGovernment Masterplan, amongst others.

Prof. Abubakar introduced innovative approaches to the company’s procurement process that resulted in a phenomenal boost to bandwidth capacity of the organization. This has increased its competitiveness as well as enhanced cost savings.

One area in which GBB has made tremendous strides is the establishment of data centres in parts of the country. On 20 December, 2022, the National Shared Services Centre (NSSC) was formally opened in Abuja. The NSSC, which houses the nation’s TIER 3 Data storage facility, is meant to serve as a strategic and significantly important resource to stakeholder organizations in both the public and the private sectors. On 30 January, 2023, the TIER 4 National Data Centre and Nothwest Zonal and Marketing Office were opened as fully operational. The Kano Data Centre serves as a backup to the Abuja Data Centre. It is a major component of the phase two of the National Information Communications Infrastructure (NICTIB) Project which started in 2021. Through this project, Galaxy will connect all the 36 states of Nigeria into ICT infrastructure to power the nation’s digital economy. The forward-looking objectives of this expansion include the need to grow GBB’s infrastructure and services in all locations by ensuring proximity to GBB Points of Infrastructure Presence and facilitating projects delivery. It is also aimed at improving revenue generation by leveraging GBB infrastructure assets to harness untapped opportunities by sweating assets delivered in NICTIB projects across Nigeria, as well as provide technical support to locations where GBB services are being consumed to ensure customer satisfaction and reduce service outages.

On 17 March 2023, the Galaxy Backbone limited (GBB) North East Zonal and Marketing Office was launched in Gombe. According to Prof. Abubakar, the launch marked “another landmark in the nation’s journey towards establishing world-class digital infrastructure and ensuring that the country has a robust and reliable digital economy for the greater benefit of today’s and tomorrow’s generations, through deliberate, painstaking and concerted efforts.” This zonal and marketing office also houses the Safe City infrastructure that will form a seed for Gombe to function as a Smart City.

Through the establishment of in-country data centres, under Abubakar’s leadership, Galaxy Backbone made it possible for federal government to recoup several billions of naira lost to hosting data outside Nigeria.

Abubakar is very clear where he plans to place the organisation in the next five years. He has rolled out a strategic business plan underpinned by six strategic pillars, which are government priorities, data sovereignty, financial sustainability, customer satisfaction, operational excellence and improved capacity.

The goals and the roadmap are tailored towards supporting the key policies of the federal government under the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.

Enhancing operational efficiency was his key consideration in view of which he reviewed the organization structure of GBB to sharpen its value delivery channels to all stakeholders across the value chain from engagement and planning to implementation and support.

Abubakar has introduced functional units and departments for accelerated realisation of the objectives. He has come up with a number of initiatives to drive value improvement, recharge operating agility, rationalise costs and improve the quality of services.

The initiatives cut across redressing anomalies in technical and financial operations, human resources and capability development tactics – all in the determination to reposition GBB for greater service to the government and the nation. Also being implemented are many initiatives aimed at promoting collaboration and partnership with all stakeholders, including public institutions, MDAs’ customers, suppliers and channel partners. Three areas identified for this purpose are cyber security, cloud computing and e-connection to small offices home offices (SOHO), estates and private businesses.

He has set the organization to pursue high-level short, medium and long-term objectives. The highlights include:

increasing the revenue-base of the organization, especially from internally-generated revenue sources to ensure self-sustainability in two years; bringing onboard the GBB network the services of all the MDAs in four years; developing transversal applications and automation of all government processes for majority of MDAs to support attainment of their mandates over the same period; developing GBB’s infrastructure for the whole country in five years; and

making GBB a partner/competitor to all ICT providers primarily in Nigeria and in Africa, especially West Africa, in five years.

The strategic thinker that he is, he has a vision to reposition GBB internally and externally to attract new markets. He has raised brand ambassadors within and outside the organization that will champion a customer-centric experience and the renewed objectives of the organization around Galaxy 3.0.

He is determined to match and surpass the level of ICT growth in the country in terms of digital infrastructure spread, broadband penetration and the growth of the nation’s digital economy. He aims to build a strong brand that can compete on the African and Global stage. These led to the decision of the MD and the management to embark on a re-branding exercise which is about to birth a ‘New Galaxy Backbone’ that will highlight where it came from, celebrate the future it seeks, enhance its reputation within the market and make it more attractive to stakeholders globally.

By knowledge and experience, Abubakar is generally endorsed as the man whom the shoes fit perfectly at Galaxy Backbone. Indeed, he is an example of how deploying square pegs in square holes leads to harvests of success stories. His academic credentials combine with over two decades of working experience spanning the academia, oil and gas exploration research, development and innovation institutions and strong leadership and management skills equip him with requisite leadership tools.


Autor(en)/Author(s): Bashir Ibrahim Hassan

Quelle/Source: This Day, 20.08.2023

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