Interviews

Nobody Sees the Struggle but Everyone Celebrates the Success!

In a world where the regularity of intellectual property theft is normalized with an inadequacy of prosecutorial laws to curb the myriad of copyright-related offenses in the various industries, Roviagate Technology, a Liberia-based Information and Communication Technology bridges this gap. Leading the industry with originality in the solution to challenges related to finance, healthcare, agriculture, security and the capacity to reign supreme in the sub-Saharan regional market, the company comes to the fore with several milestones. InvestAfrica Magazine in an interview with the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Mr Oliver Klark Jr., explored some critical incursions made into this highly competitive industry by this organization. Excerpts.

RoviaGate Technology LLC, Liberia is a leader in integrated Information Communication Technology solution in West Africa. Kindly tell us more about your organisation.
RoviaGate is 100% Liberian owned and was founded in 2007 in the state of California by a group of creative Liberians living in the diaspora. The company was relocated to Liberia in 2010. We felt this was our way contributing to the nation building process after 14 years of a brutal civil war.
RoviaGate Technology is a premiere regional West African Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) firm headquartered in Liberia delivering data driven integrated solutions. With our experience and strategic positioning, RoviaGate is poised to take advantage of the exponential market opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa in the data and analytics space.
Our goal is to build capacity in several industry verticals; particularly government, financial services, security sector, and healthcare. This will lead to a data driven culture in the region by establishing a single source of truth (SSOT) that will enhance productivity and help business leaders to make more informed decision with regards to resource allocation and deployment. Roviagate’s market position offers a unique perspective for sustainable collaborations and partnerships with global firms exploring growth opportunities, especially on the African continent.
The major business problem RoviaGate is solving in the region is the data collection, warehousing, mining, and governance. At RoviaGate Technology, we have been able to tackle that problem by providing SMART (Scalable – Marketable – Actionable – Resourceful – Technological) solutions through our applications and devices. For example, we have worked extensively with the governments, businesses and the public in general, providing data driven solutions in the areas of revenue generation, security, agriculture, education, and healthcare. Specifically:
We provided a solution to the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) that is projected to increased revenue generation by approximately 30% over the next 18-24 months by enhancing and minimizing fraud.
In the security sector, we provided a crime reduction and mitigation solution focused on identifying crime hotspots and trends, resulting in a double digit crime reduction in multiple areas.
In the agriculture sector, we have provided a platform that brings farmers and buyers together, eliminating exponential market inefficiencies.
During the 2017 elections, we designed and developed RoviaGate in collaboration with the National Elections Commission of Liberia, this app aided the public in verifying their voter’s ID cards and finding their voting precincts during the 2017 National Elections runoff in Liberia. This App help solved a major problem faced by the National Elections Commission during the first round of the Presidential Election of 2017 and removed a lot a bottlenecks, creating efficiency in the voting process.
Find Officer® is a mobile/desktop based application launched in collaboration with the Liberia National Police (LNP). The application is geared towards promoting transparency and confidence building between the police and the public. The pilot of this project was sponsored by the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and is now been adopted by the Carter in Liberia. The solution is currently been deployed by several countries in central and east Africa. With the Find Officer© App, citizens can now verify an officer identity, commend an officer, or file a complaint against an officer right from their mobile device! The police then can run analytic in the information received through and take appropriate actions. This application, in terms of its objective is the first of its kind in the world!
With the launch HRMIS platform, VoxHR, we have been able the help government entities and business SMARTLY manage their workforce. For example, the Ministry of Education uses our platform to manage over 18 thousand employees across the country. Our client list for this platform includes the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company, Liberia Civil Aviation, GIZ, and Ecobank.

What are some of the operational challenges your company has encountered in the course of its growth and how were they resolved?
From an internal operational perspective, finding talent, and being nimble to changes in the industry are top of the list of the challenges we faced with initially. Picture this. We had just relocated back home in 2010. The country was less than a decade from a war that created a significant drain. Sourcing qualified and competent local talent was like looking for a needle in a haystack.
So in the early stages, we usually ran back to the US and subcontracted talents we could not find locally. For us, this was a short term solution. We knew it was not sustainable so we launch an aggressive agenda to build capacity locally.
We started an internship/mentorship program, giving young promising ICT students hands-on experience, exposing them to new technologies and affording them the opportunity to work on LIVE projects. For these young interns, ICT was no longer an abstract concept. They could see solutions they have worked on in use by governments, multinational companies, international NGO’s, private businesses, and the general population, both locally and internationally. Seeing projects they have worked on go LIVE has spurred a level of creativity and ingenuity that we never could have imagined.
Our internship/mentorship program has been our biggest success to date. Solutions, especially those that we designed to solve everyday problems in the region are a direct result of this program. Because of their experiences living these problems every day, their input in our solutions design processes have been invaluable.

From your viewpoint, what are the major pitfalls in artificial intelligence and technology?
The major pitfalls in artificial intelligence and technology from my perspective are more from the end users rather than with the technologies. These pitfalls can be classified in two major categories: Adaptability and End-users Readiness/Preparedness. In most cases, end users are driven by the hype of the technology rather than a full understanding of the functionalities and benefits the technology provide. As a result you see instances where decision making functions are delegated to AI right after deployment, long before the system has had the opportunity to learn and function in its environment. Also, the lack of expertise and adequate training of a company’s ICT team to properly manage AI systems, interpret and utilize insights cannot be overemphasized.
Statistics have shown that the world needs a minimum of 10 million jobs every year to drastically reduce the rate of unemployment. With the high rate of unemployment in Africa, what strategies can be implemented by the government to tackle this issue?
Government should create an environment that encourages entrepreneurship and businesses. Consequently, this stimulates job and human capital growth through businesses. African governments should aggressively source, encourage, and protect local innovation. Especially with the internet penetration across the African continent increasing, leading to the exposure of new technologies.

You are an inspiration to many as you have recorded major successes in the journey of your career. Do you have any advice to give to those looking to invest their skills and time in your line of business?
Be open-minded and very receptive to change. Be willing to be a data/ICT evangelist with the boldness to dream. I put a lot emphasis on data because without the RIGHT information, we will almost always make the WRONG decision. Do not cap your creativity. It sounds like cliché, but I always tell my staff, JUST THINK! The next BIG THING might just be an idea you think is SMALL!
We have a saying at our office, “At RoviaGate, we don’t just CREATE, we INNOVATE!”

What do you want to be remembered for?
A change champion, and someone who revered humanity. Someone who motivated others to THINK, to find solutions, one problem at a time. No one person is more important than another. A slight change of fortunes, and you just might be that person.

 

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