Nigeria’s Edo State has embraced digital transformation and is the first fully e-governed state in Nigeria. The EdoGov platform underpins this transformation, supported by a dynamic change program that has laid the groundwork for its development, integration and adoption.
For our eighth session of Show the Thing, we were joined by Sarah Ajose-Adeogun, Special Adviser to the Governor of Edo State on Strategy, Policy, Projects, and Performance Management (SPPPM). She explained how this transformation has set a new benchmark for Nigerian sub-national government.
The Heartbeat of Nigeria
Edo State is uniquely well-positioned to leverage digital technology. A critical transit hub, Edo’s young population (median age of 21) and relatively high internet access (70%) reflect a community ready to embrace digital. But digital transformation can only be realised when supported by the political will, cross-government collaboration, and an actionable vision for change.
The strategic agenda is set out in ‘Vision 2050’, an ambitious blueprint to make Edo State the best place to live and prosper in Nigeria by 2050. This vision for change focuses on making the state's administration more efficient, transparent, and citizen-centric and is led by the State Governor and Head of Service (sometimes referred to as the “Digital Head of Service” as a moniker for championing this initiative amongst edo’s civil servants). To embed change also requires the buy-in of the Civil and Public Services who can drive sustainable and collaborative growth.
Digital transformation in Edo State is built on four interconnected drivers for change:
People: Transitioning from an entirely analogue system, the Governor of Edo State, His Excellency Godwin Obaseki, has invested heavily in training and capacity building. Their change management plan focuses on embedding technical skills and digital-era ways-of-working.
Culture: A thorough discovery process identified gaps between the current and desired states. This helped identify and prioritise needs and apply change in the most critical areas.
Processes: Processes were redefined, helping to clarify roles and responsibilities and ensuring that mechanisms and accountabilities existed to streamline operations and improve service delivery.
Technology: The adoption and successful integration of digital tools and platforms is central to achieving the state's goals.
To embed change, Governor Obaseki and his team have introduced sustainable mechanisms such as frequent internal communication - including weekly meetings with the State Executive Council and transparent communication with the workforce.
Edo goes paperless
EdoGov’s Enterprise Resourcing Platform (ERP) has driven Governor Obaseki’s ambitious move to a paperless approach to government administration. The platform provides key functionalities and is designed to be user-friendly, ensuring usability for those less digitally savvy. Features include:
Memos - the key facility that allows users to request and receive approval for activities.
Mailing systems - real-time communication mechanisms to facilitate cross-departmental dialogue.
Performance management - to track and monitor performance of teams and individuals and inform rewards and disciplinary actions.
Training - to access and sign-up for distance and in-person training programmes.
Human Resource Management - allowing users to raise and address grievances, book leave and other vital functions.
To demonstrate its effectiveness and efficiency, Sarah cited the changes the introduction of the ERP system has made to Edo State’s Geographic Information Service (EDOGIS). In 20 years, GIS had issued EDOGIS issued 20,000 Certificates of Occupancy. However, since Governor Obaseki’s administration, EDOGIS has digitised over 30,000 files carried on from the Midwest Region through Bendel State and Edo State and issued over 30,000 In the last two years alone.
Challenges and the future
On 1 September 2023, the Edo State Government became paperless. Whilst this represents a significant milestone, it is not the end-goal. The work continues and challenges remain. Issues such as digital literacy among senior leaders, high costs of email licensing, and integrating technical skills into the civil and public service persist.
Edo State continues to take decisive and proactive action to improve. The introduction of the John Odigie Oyegun Public Service Academy (JOOPSA) has allowed 10,000 trainees in the last year to develop and refine their skills. Meanwhile, through approaches like train-the-trainer, Edo has introduced digital champions who go on ‘ward rounds’, much like medical practitioners, to engage with civil and public servants to better understand challenges, provide support, and spread awareness about digital initiatives.
Edo State's journey is a testament to the power of innovation, investment, and political will in transforming governance. By enhancing bureaucratic efficiency, Edo State is improving the lives of its citizens and increasing its attractiveness to investors. The progress has been recognised by the likes of the UN who rank Edo as the best State in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and digital governance in Nigeria.
We would like to congratulate the team on their work and thank them for sharing their journey at Show the Thing. We hope that by doing so, they have inspired all attendees to consider their approaches to digital government.
In the spirit of openness, the team was kind enough to allow us to record and share their excellent presentation.