Galaxy Backbone

The Problem

Proliferation and Duplication of ICT Projects and Infrastructure: The Federal Government was spending over 120 million USD on ICT infrastructure projects championed by different Ministries, Departments or Agencies (MDAs) - most of them being duplications of the same types of infrastructure and service. There was little control over quality and zero collaboration or synergy. The Federal Government was getting little value for money.
High cost of connectivity services: As at 2007, the Federal Government was paying about $6.7m a year for what was no more than a total of 50 Mbps to different MDAs
Lack of Coordinated Approach to e-Government: There was no reuse of electronic assets. Valuable information created in one MDA was not accessible to the next. Information security was non-existent. Government data was hosted in several open access infrastructure offshore.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
1-GOV.net is a secure government cloud consisting of software, hardware and network infrastructure offering shared services to the whole of the Federal Government of Nigeria. As part of the 1-GOV.net initiative Galaxy Backbone deployed the following:
A private government network: With over 3,600 locations connected nationwide by optical fiber and VSAT links – covering over 85% of documented MDAs – in a secure, exclusive network, 1-GOV.net creates for the first time, a private government network for the Federal Government of Nigeria.
A secure Government Data Center: 1-GOV.net also features a 300 terabytes capacity government datacenter linked up to over 150 MDA Headquarters by optical fiber. This DataCenter and the connectivity network recently received an ISO 27001 certification for the Information Security Management System.
Collaboration Services: 1-GOV.net also features Government Wide Messaging and Collaboration systems. Currently, over 64,000 mail boxes have been deployed for civil servants and more mail boxes are being provisioned. Collaboration services enable Government workers to work together across agencies and departments without having to be in the same room.
Unified Communication Services: As part of the 1-GOV.net initiative, Galaxy Backbone has also deployed over 500 unified communication nodes for the Federal Government. Inter-Agency voice and video conferencing is now feasible over the deployed infrastructure, taking away the stress of travelling across the city and in some cases, outside the capital for short meetings.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
Proposed the solution: A common ICT platform for the Federal Government was proposed by an inter-ministerial committee on harmonization of ICT initiatives of Ministries , Departments and Agencies of Government and approved by the President on Nigeria. The Secretary to the Government of the Federation created the mandate for the platform through a policy circular following the approval of the President.
Implementers of 1-GOV.net: The architecture, features and services on the platform were designed and implemented by Galaxy Backbone PLC.
Stakeholders of the Platform: These include all Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria, Private Sector ICT services providers and suppliers and the general public.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
The strategies were as follows:
1. Reuse and harmonize existing ICT projects and infrastructure to save cost and eliminate duplication
2. Ensure government-wide compliance by issuing a framework for engagement and a policy directive of Executive Order of Government – Office of the Government of the Federation
3. Reduce cost of connectivity services by volume discounts and economy of scale – Galaxy Backbone
4. Establish and operate as a private sector company - although 100% Government - to justify attractive remuneration for attracting competent and skilled personnel – Galaxy Backbone
5. Build out platform gradually and conservatively to ensure sustainability – Galaxy Backbone
6. Implement infrastructure projects using private sector suppliers to grow local market and structure engagement with government with regard to supply of ICT services – Galaxy Backbone

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
1. A survey of existing ICT resources and capacity across the entire Federal Government was carried out in June 2007. This set the basis for planning and development of budgets for procurement of bandwidth and other resources
2. Galaxy then developed technical designs for Network and Data Centre services to connect over 400 Government Agencies within three geographical domains:
a. Federal Secretariat Complexes which houses over 30% of Government Ministries
b. Abuja Metropolis – Phase I where all Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are located
c. Nationwide covering all MDA offices
3. A Government Data Centre and Network Operations Centre were established and integrated to ensure consolidation and centralized administration and distribution of connectivity services. These were completed by March 2008
4. Galaxy subsequently placed tenders for bulk purchases of resources covering bandwidth data centre resources (computing, storage), software licenses and other required services and equipment.
5. Subsequently a Program Management Office was established for the roll out of network services across the three geographical domains listed in item 2. This commenced in August of 2008
6. Galaxy then commenced training and capacity building program as part of its change management efforts to ensure adoption and utilization of ICT resources provided under the 1-GOV.net program. This commenced in 2009 and currently continues yearly
7. The network initially provided for Internet access and virtual private network connectivity.
8. After attainment of 60% roll out of services, Galaxy commenced the Government wide messaging and collaboration program to ensure delivery of email and other collaboration services to Government agencies.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
Resistance to change from public institutions – public institutions had gotten used to a certain way of doing things. Turf wars are common and considered par for the course. An initiative that required inter-agency collaboration and place restrictions on ICT procurement was destined to face significant resistance from public servants.
Limited Resources – Despite the backing of a Federal Executive Council resolution and a policy circular, Galaxy Backbone still continues to face the challenge of adequate financial provisions from the Federal Government.
Attracting the right quality of staff – attracting quality human resources to work for a Government company is very hard. It is difficult to compete with private sector remuneration packages for similar job functions and skill sets.
How Obstacles were overcome:
Advocacy with key Government Stakeholders – Galaxy Backbone is engaged in advocacy with key stakeholders in government particularly in the budget office, the Bureau for Public Procurement and in the Parliament.
In working with limited resources, Galaxy Backbone has also been pragmatic with the implementation of 1GOV.net, favoring a gradual, incremental approach to expanding the infrastructure (also ploughing savings realized from economies of scale back into building additional infrastructure). Smart and diligent re-purposing of existing and already justified Government ICT projects meant for only one agency to shared government-wide infrastructure has also been an ingenious way of managing with scarce resources.
Galaxy is still addressing the challenge of attracting skilled labor in competition with private sector companies. However, a unique salary scale approved by government has helped bridge the gap a little.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
About $180m have been invested so far in 1-GOV.net. With this, over 3,600 nodes have been deployed nationwide including a 700km optical fiber network covering the capital Abuja. Galaxy has kept a low headcount of employees, operating with less than 160 full time employees with offices in three cities.
The ICT services have enabled several MDAs provide better services. An integrated network has helped the Federal Road Safety Commission automate the issuance of drivers licenses, shortening the time drivers have to wait for licenses to be issued. The network also helps the Petroleum Equalization Fund accurately track the movement of over 30 million liters of petroleum products daily across the nation, enabling it become more accountable with the bridging fund.
More recently, the 1-GOV.net platform is enabling all 28 Ministries and the National Planning commission to collaboratively prepare memos for the Federal Executive Council – The cabinet meeting of the Federal Government of Nigeria. In addition to reducing the time it takes to prepare council memos (from 4-5 days to a few hours), the initiative is creating a searchable archive of cabinet memos dating back to the amalgamation of Southern and Northern Nigeria in 1914.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
The 1-GOV.net is currently being sustained by subsisting Government Policy Directives and consistent budget provisions for the past 5 years. However, efforts are underway to create an act of parliament backing the initiative and giving it the force of law.
The initiative has been designed to be replicable by State Governments in the Federation. However, none have attempted to replicate it thus far

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
Reduction in waste by elimination of duplication of ICT projects and infrastructure
Increase impact of Government ICT spend – e.g. $6.7m currently fetches the FGN over 5 times the Internet Bandwidth it got for the same price before 1-GOV.net
Facilitation of the automation of Government – Existing ICT infrastructure already connecting all MDAs makes it easier for MDAs to pursue automation – e.g Petroleum Equalization Fund and Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) automation of Government payroll.
Improvement in Government Service Delivery – Federal Road Safety Commission leveraging 1-GOV.net in improving the driver license issuance process
Lessons Learnt
1. Achieving significant utilization of ICTs in the public service requires major structural changes in human capacity development and Government processes. This is best achieved through the Agency responsible for human capacity and development of functional processes and organizational structures. In Nigeria this is the Office of the Head of the Civil Service. The following initiatives should be implemented alongside any major ICT program:
a. Create a cadre for ICT professionals within the MDAs to ensure that planning and policy making is not only driven with technology , but that strategic investments to support the use of technology are made
b. Re-engineer processes and develop systems to automate simple processes – like Leave application, payroll, travel approvals etc.,
c. Revise and automate memoranda creation and documentation processes
d. Automate Government records management
2. The Agency responsible for ICT related changes and e-Government should report directly to the President and should be led directly by the Presidency. This Agency requires the authority to drive these changes through the Civil service
3. Enabling laws and regulations should be developed to streamline the procurement and use of ICTs by Government Agencies and compliance must be enforced
4. Adequate funding for the procurement of ICT resources and implementation fo capacity building programs

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Galaxy Backbone
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Francis Ugbodaga
Title:   General Manager  
Telephone/ Fax:  
Institution's / Project's Website:   www.galaxybackbone.com.ng
E-mail:   frank.ugbodaga@galaxybackbone.com.ng  
Address:   61 Adetokunbo Ademola
Postal Code:   2349
City:   Abuja
State/Province:   FCT
Country:   Nigeria

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