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Tell us the history of Westblue Consulting, the services you provide, your trainings and products.
Westblue is an IT solutions company. We started up back in 2012. We specialise in the African region looking at African solutions with a benchmark to global standards. We have a core expertise in trade facilitation. In terms of our history, since 2012 we have been providing these solutions in the region.
Who are your clients?
We tend to have clients across the board; we have clients in the private sector and also government and NGO clients. Predominantly we seem to be doing very well in the government space.
In terms of your competition, are there any other such companies in your area? What is your position in the sector? How do you differentiate yourselves?
Our unique positioning is that we have our own proprietary software which means that we are very agile. We differentiate ourselves by providing sustainable solutions. We tend to focus on our four Ps, which form the basis of who we are. Even though we are an IT company, we believe that IT is only an enabler, not a driver. We have to look at the four Ps before we put in a solution. We look at the people: what are the users’ needs? Because that is really key. IT can do anything but if the humans don’t want to make it work, it won’t work. Then we look at processes, such as automating, are there any opportunities for streamlining and improving those? Then we look at platforms, what IT solutions and infrastructure will work with that particular client, while of course having a solution that can scale up very easily? Finally we look at policy, is there an enabling legal environment to support what we are looking at? I believe that is what differentiates us; we don’t just provide IT software out of the box but we take our time to be able to understand the environment and provide a sustained solution for our clients.
You are also based in Abuja. Is the company Ghanaian or Nigerian?
We have Westblue Nigeria and we have Westblue Ghana.
Do you just have these two units or are you looking into more?
In the future we are looking at a number of strategic partnerships and we are looking at going into a number of different countries. That is our focus for the coming year.
In the region?
Yes, in the region.
Can you tell us more about the Trade Hub Information Portal?
We are very proud of the Trade Hub, which is an award winning portal. It looks at bringing together all the information for the benefit of the importer or exporter. Instead of traditionally going to all of the agencies or trying to find out the requirements to bring in a consignment of paper for example, it consolidates all of the information, lets you know who the regulatory agencies are, what the processes you must go through are, what the duties, fees and charges are, how long it will likely take to move the goods from the supplier to the country or vice versa. It reduces the time and cost of finding information and most importantly it also provides one version of the truth to the visiting parties on the site. We are very proud of the Trade Hub, particularly of the way it uses data to provide information in a timely manner to our clients.
What about other products?
We also have the Automated Repository Portal. That looks at the vehicle from cradle to grave. That portal consolidates all the data about the vehicle, who manufactured it, which country it came from, the manufacturing details, who were the previous owners, who are the current owners, what repairs it has gone through etc. basically giving you a full history. That provides the consumer with the history of the particular vehicle they might want to purchase or provides the information of the vehicle that they want to sell but also packages the information in a user friendly manner. It also helps the government to know about the movement of vehicles, whether vehicles are stolen, whether the duties have been paid etc. and downstream it will help with tracking stolen vehicles because you can then harness the data set and look at tracking devices that can help you. That is one of our flagship products.
You said that the Trade Hub Portal is award winning and we know you have received other awards as a company, can you summarise what you attribute your success to?
I think I attribute it to the passion of our employees. We have a very good employee base, they are very passionate about the work that they do. They are very skilled and hardworking and they want to see a difference so they will go the extra mile to see that whatever we put in does work. Also the support from the government, creating an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive is also very key. Also our clients, those who want to be flagship clients, who want to have innovative solutions, are also really important because you cannot develop a product for someone who doesn’t see the value of it. Forward thinking clients who want to provide cutting edge solutions to their clients and use us to do that are key to our success. I think it is those three things: government, our employees and our clients, all these things coming together nicely to put us where we are.
Just lastly, I would like you to tell us about your vision for the company and for Ghana itself.
We have created brand awareness. We did that with the quality solutions that we provide which significantly changed the status quo in West Africa. I believe we have managed to position ourselves very well in Ghana and Nigeria, two of the major giants in the region. Our next phase is to look at ensuring that we build more on these successes in these countries, but also move out to support other countries.