The federal government has earmarked over ₦9.31 billion in the proposed 2021 national budget for the acquisition of “computer software” by the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS. The service had few years ago digitised most of its processes including payments to minimise extortion by criminal elements. According to the NIS, the initiative will improve migration and transparency in the visa application system in line with the Federal Government’s Ease of Doing Business Policy.
Before now, the NIS received VOA applications through electronic mails or hard copy documents submitted to the Comptroller General of Immigration for approval. However, with the new web-based regime, applicants are required to complete relevant application form on the NIS website (www.immigration.gov.ng) using Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome browsers, make payment (using MasterCard and Visa payment cards) and obtain online visa approval.
In this article, I will tackle one of the first questions we get asked by Nigerians. How much does immigration software cost to build?
It is a tough question to answer for anyone in the industry, even when you’ve been building software for decades because it really depends. All transactions are done in dollars and not naira.
It’s a broad range, and probably not that useful if you are ready to put a number in your budget. That’s because software can mean anything from a calculator on your phone to a full enterprise billing system that supports millions of users. No two immigration-built applications are the same.
To get a better idea of where you might fall on the spectrum, below are the factors that we find have the biggest impact on a project’s cost.
Biggest Impacts On Software Cost
This one is straight forward. The more screens/pages you have, the more work that needs to be done to build your application, and the more expensive it will be to deliver.
Small applications range from 10-25 screens, medium are in the realm of 25-40 and large is anything more than 40.
Just so you know, a screen to view immigrants information and a screen to edit immigrants information are two different screens, even though they show the same information.
Complicated logic means more time coding and testing. If your application performs a lot of heavy analysis, scoring or number crunching, or if your secret sauce has a lot of nuances and permutations, your application probably has some complexity to it that warrants special attention.
Creative design is fun! This is where you get to select your fonts, color palettes, and images as well as have immigration illustrations and animations made to give your application some sizzle.
Like when you decorate a house or buy a new wardrobe, there are nice options, there are extravagant options, and there is a range in between.
Integration With Other Systems
Integrating with external software introduces a lot of unknown variables into the equation. You just don’t know how well the other system let’s information in or out, and what hoops you have to jump through in the process.
Sometimes the integrations are effortless and sometimes they are extremely difficult. Typical integrations like payment providers such as PayPal or Authorize.Net are extremely easy to integrate with. The same goes for credit check services from Equifax or Experian.
But older, or lesser known systems may pose a challenge and increase the project cost.
Migration Of Existing Data
If you have data in an existing system that needs to go into your new application, assuming it is more than you can feasibly type in by hand, then you will need migration. Migration is nothing more than immigrants scripts that take data out of your old system, dust it off and reshape it so it can fit into your new system.
The steps of the process are fairly straight-forward, but there are a lot of questions and decisions that need to be made as the two systems will store the data differently.
Most migration efforts are run a few times after the software is finished to make sure everything got translated correctly, and the new system is using the data as desired. The effort of figuring out the translation rules, writing the scripts, and performing a series of tests and adjustments, will add time and cost to the project.
Designing To Budget
Similar to building a house, software can be designed to fit a certain budget. You may want a butler’s pantry and a finished basement but if it doesn’t fit your numbers, these may be lower priority items that you decide to not include in the project.
The same goes for building immigration software. A good software development team can take your ideas, and create a design with a target budget in mind. Once the initial design and cost estimate are complete, certain features can be added or removed to hit your target number. It is worth while to put a reasonable number to your target budget when you start a project.
President Muhammadu Buhari had last Thursday presented the 2021 appropriation bill of N13.08 trillion to a joint session of the National Assembly in Abuja, the nation’s capital. The Immigration Service will also spend over ₦97.78 million on monitoring and evaluation and another ₦207.5 million on the ongoing reactivation of surveillance aircraft as well as purchase of aircraft maintenance kits. The service has a total recurrent cost of ₦56.2 billion and a capital expenditure of over ₦16.64 billion in the appropriation bill. For the Nigerian Correctional Service NCoS, the federal government is proposing to spend over ₦4.31 billion on the ongoing construction of a 3,000 capacity Model Prison in Kano, Abuja, Boro and Damaturu; additional cells in Maiduguri New Prison, construction of 14 satellite prisons and barracks in Nafada, Bagoro, Kubacha, Tambuwal, Gwaram and Birnin Kudu as well as the completion of prisons nationwide. Also, the ongoing replacement and maintenance of farm equipment and machineries for mechanised farm production would gulp over ₦580.9 million, while the procurement of Pick-up Vans, Mini Maria, Green Maria, Ambulance, Jeep, Sewage trucks, Water Tanker, Sedan Cars and supply two coaster buses to Kachina and Kagoro prisons is to gulp ₦1.14billion. On its part, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps NSCDC was allocated ₦81.9 million for teg procurement of dog handling equipment as well as feeding and maintenance of dogs. The corps was also allocated ₦232.42 million for the purchase of arms, ammunitions and system management, and another ₦1.7 billion for teg purchase of operational pick-up vans.
The Federal Fire Service FFS was allocated ₦170.43 million for another ₦ purchase of motor vehicles and ₦2.89 for the purchase of fire fighting equipment.
The service also has a proposed budget expenditure of ₦91.72 million for “kitting of armed forces personnel”. The sum of ₦130.9 million was also earmarked for recruitment and appointment (provision for feeding and logistics of new intakes training) as well as another ₦69.75 million for procurement of “necessary furniture and replacement of bad furniture for headquarters, 12 zonal commands, states command and stations across the nation. All four paramilitary services are under the Ministry of Interior whose total proposed budget, including those of the services and the Civil Defence, Fire, Immigration and Prisons Services Board was put at ₦271,666,471,225.
Inwalomhe Donald writes from Abuja