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Upgrade of Oyo State Website at N17.5m, A Fraud or Great Value for Money?

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On Friday, August 5th 2022, a popular online newspaper, Sahara Reporters, published an article under the heading “EXCLUSIVE: Oyo Government Awards N17.5Million To Upgrade State Website”, which questioned the price the Oyo State Government awarded the upgrade of the state website.

In the article, Sahara Reporters claimed that it had spoken to “Tech Experts”, who pointed out that the cost of upgrading the Website was “ridiculously outrageous”.

The article read, “However, according to tech experts who spoke to SaharaReporters, the N17.5 million contract sum for the upgrading of the state website was ridiculously outrageous, most likely due to corruption”.

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This prompted a call to the Special Assistant to the Oyo State Governor on Information Communication Technology (ICT) and E-Governance, Mr Bayo Akande, whose office handled the upgrade of the website.

When asked for his comments on the article and details of the project, Mr Akande explained that contrary to what Sahara Reporters reported, the upgrade created a web portal which hosts a page for each Oyo State Ministry Department and Agency (MDA) and boasted of other features. The cost also includes hosting packages. He said, “the Oyo State Website isn’t just a website, it is a web portal that has a stand-alone website for every Ministry, Department and Agency in Oyo State. This website has a total of more than 1,650 stand-alone pages. This website also has many other features like the Crime Alert (platform), citizens engagement, resources, downloadables and many others. This is an award-winning website. In fact, the website is partly why the National Council on Communications and Digital Economy, chaired by the Minister of Communications, named Oyo State the best state in ICT.”

He continued, “This same consultant for the website also gave us hosting packages that host many other applications such as our COVID-19 Application Portal, Ministry of Public Works and Transport Project Dashboard Portal, Application Tracking for Bursary, World Bank OCDS platform, IRS payment platform, OYSIPA server, OYSADA application tracking, and other sensitive [documents] which we are hosting”.

According to the SA ICT and E-Governance, for the functionalities that this web portal offers, $25,000 is a steal. He said whoever couched the story as corruption was “trying to make mischief.” He said, “I know that the Oyo State Government got a very great value for our money. It was a fair deal from the consultant and the cost of the project is certainly not ridiculous.”

After the call, Oyo Affairs did a simple Google search on how much a similar web portal costs. We found out that the cost of designing a web portal as of 2020 when the project was executed was between $20,000 and $80,000. This figure given was not the total cost. In the case of complex solutions, the cost of development increases to accommodate the client’s needs.

Mr Akande, during the call, also explained that the consultant gave the State Government a hosting package as part of the services provided. To know the full implication of the “hosting package” added to the services, we did a further search on hosting services and found out that such hosting packages are called dedicated hosting servers.

A brief explanation of such servers is provided in the images below:

As mentioned in one of the images, this type of hosting is the best but comes with a catch, it is the most expensive! How expensive?

A dedicated server can cost up to $2,000 monthly. The cheapest long-term dedicated server online is the Bluehost server which goes for $120 monthly and gives just 4GB RAM for hosting your site.

Considering the level of data and information on the Oyo State Website, your guess is as good as ours that the hosting server has more than 4GB RAM.

According to Mr Akande, the Oyo State Government hosts the COVID-19 application portal, Ministry of Works Project Dashboard Portal, application tracking for bursary, World Bank OCDS platform, IRS payment platform, OYSIPA server, OYSADA appreciation tracking, and many other sensitive platforms on the server provided by the consultant without additional costs.

With all the above costs mentioned in the development of an award-winning web portal which the Oyo State Government website is, did the Oyo State Government get great value for money? Was the cost of the project ridiculously inflated?

We will leave it up to the good people of Oyo State to judge.

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