knowledge has been identified as a bedrock of many developed countries such as Singapore and Japan, in an interview with Felix Rwang-Dung, Project Director, HORD Limited. He speaks with Justice Godfrey Okamgba on how Nigeria can leverage online platform such as www.askanexpert.expert to boost knowledge based economy.
What’s the main thrust behind the new initiative “Ask an expert”
We need to seek guidance and insights to productively achieve success. In my view, in Nigeria for instance, the access to real information and data is quite limited. Our platform like ours www.askanexpert.expert gives you the room to seek actual and quality information.
Apart from the generic Google and other search engines, people (experts) are quite the repository of data. These are people that have solved a particular problem and excelled, so they have what it takes to give you the real data you need. The fundamental thing here to enable people to access quality information directly from people.
It’s quite obvious that most tech companies in Nigeria are coming up with different innovation, in what ways do you think the government can actually benefit from this?
From the concept of an expert, what we have done is to categorise into individuals and private organizations, so that also involves government. Now, when you look at the government, its really had to get information quickly. By opening up a platform like Askanexpert, it forms a direct access to experts to be able to make enquiries to the right information.
With government, there is a lot of opportunity., when people are engaged productively, it will enhance creativity and information. With more information, you have, you’re able to make an informed decision and see information generally. The platform is going to add value and engage a lot of productivity.
Do we have tech companies like yours that are doing what you’re trying to bring to the table?
Not in the model, we have. The model we have adopted is very very limited locally.What we have is a direct connectivity between people to people. On the global scale it might be difficult, but locally our model is different.
We are using a mobile platform and current technology trend; we have the on demand services which are a global phenomenon, and this is the bedrock of knowledge economy. Having one solution in all of these things as one unit is quite significant, However, something that I doubt in Nigeria at the moment.
When you talk about experts , what are the major criteria that qualifies one as expert in order to enrol on this platform.
Experts are broken down into individuals or organisations. By expert we mean individuals or organisations For individuals their specialties is quite broad, we have 11 areas across different sectors. are We have categorized them into connections plans, these are enabling premium to low end consultation charge or option. Based on the number of years of expertise, we get them categorised.
For organisations, it must have tractions and registered. We also attract SMEs, this is a way they can build their services and gain credibility. As a small business with 2 or 3 staff members, you can register and people get you connected online.
For public institutions, we also look at it as a secondary customer service portal. People can easily access and make enquiries with your mobile phone in your pocket.
Do you think the knowledge-based economy can help Nigeria, do you have practical examples or success stories where knowledge based economy has thrived?
The term knowledge economy is just becoming understood as a new evolution of where we are. Industrial revolution in Europe started in coffee shops; people started gathering, and conversations started in the process, people shared ideas amongst themselves in those days. That was how an industrial revolution in Europe started. This led to the information era; this is when the internet brought the boost. It provided information; we got exposed to limitless information.
With that exposure, which knowledge sharing, in all of these things. The information era got exploded, now we have different technology trends. All these are part of the knowledge based economy. We have countries like Singapore, Japan and the USA where knowledge economy has transformed and played significant roles.
If am an expert and am interested to get registered as an expert, what am I suppose to do?
Preferably, just go to Google Play store and download the app. Login you will receive instruction on how to get registered. If you are not using an Android device, you can just log on to the website and download the app. We have a form that will captures your data; it’s paramount we verify the data of our experts. So you cannot be anonymous as our expert. It has to be known.
However, we have been going round and sending proposals to professional bodies and associations in Nigeria. This is in a bid to establish the credibility of our experts. Once you register, you will be activated after the verification process, then you have to wait until you get anybody that wants your services on the platform.
How long to does it take an expert to be on the platform?
It varies, depending on the verification process, because we use external professional examinations. These people people are skilled in terms of detecting frauds associated with identity. However, it takes about 2 to 4days.
I am so much concerned about what qualifies someone as an expert; it is the number of years regarding experience or what?
We are limiting our potential users to what they area of interest would be. We try to make it dynamic. For some professions, the minimum years of experience is between 3 to 5 years. Don’t forget those different professions would require a minimum of 10 years experience as well.
At least, for some professions, it is 3years to 5. We have other high-level professions that require a high number of years. We have four connection plans from premium to the lowest.
Regarding benefits and value, what should an ordinary man expect?
We have different challenges people are facing currently and the only way to salvage it is through wisdom. Which is even scriptural. It’s true, people are seeking information through Google, but the truth is that they rarely translate to real time result.
For instance, we have different books that talks about how Bill Gate and all those influential people made their money, how come we haven’t gotten another Bill Gate, that’s an example. What is key here is wisdom. And that’s what we are are trying to promote. With someone telling you to do this and that, you get insights and inspiration, etc.
With advice and counsel from experts, you stand a better chance if making informed and good decisions. You have multiple of those experts that can offer you, counsel.
How affordable is this?
Its a Value Added Service from the mobile operatora. For you to have access to the service, you will need to subscribe. Its subscription based. N35 per day, N100 per week, and 350 per month gives you access to the platform.
At this stage, for the experts, its free at the moment. Its not limited by any network. For the users, it a subscription based. We can’t determine how much an expert charges, its just like a market place. The cost of engaging an expert depends on the plan where the expert fall into, however, the expert are paid on every 10mins of consultation via mobile chat. The user negotiates with the expert on price, not we. We have a plan that is free, any expert you engage there is free. We have the Premium Plan, the experts determine their charge.
What should be your advice for the government in the area of adopting knowledge-based economy?
The government needs to promote initiative like this in terms of rolling out support infrastructures. Supports in the field of funding, endorsement, creating awareness of platforms like this. Where we are presently is as a result of knowledge shared in the past. These are catalysts for a nation building.