Having experienced some level of frustration while carrying out daily activities in the downstream sector, the duo of Andre Bassey and Yomi Ademefun, partners at Axiom Tech Ltd, thought of a tech solution that could ease business operations by helping firms identify verifiable sources of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), diesel otherwise known as Automotive Gas Oil (AGO), and other products; the prevalent daily rate of the product(s), inventory level of each tank farm, as well as a list of verified logistics company to truck the purchased consignment. Something similar to the famous online mall: Amazon. All these can be determined via features on the newly introduced PetroApp as Nigeria’s downstream sector braces up for the fourth industrial revolution causing sweeping changes in business models globally.
Tell us about the PetroApp
Andre: Petro App is a very interesting Application, designed to enable downstream marketers in Nigeria to make basic business decisions such as trying to know where their preferred depot would be; whether it is Port Harcourt, Calabar, Kaduna and wherever you may find petroleum products. One can make business decisions on where and how to reload their products, know pricing and also get a good directory for getting trucks option, get forecast as well, so that they don’t make wrong decisions. The App also gives its users the relevant petroleum news from the regulators. It is going to be an improved application eventually but for now these are the basic features.
Considering the fact that petroleum products users already have their markets, what’s the unique value addition?
Andre: We considered cost of information which is very important to them. It is usually not accurate because marketers have had to make lengthy calls to get information. But if you know there is a platform where you get correct and timely information, you’d go for it. This improves on what they already have. They have an existing structure but we are here to simplify the structure.
How many petroleum product depots do you have on the App and what is the spread?
Andre: We have a spread across 6 states including Lagos, Port Harcourt, Calabar, Delta, Kaduna, Niger. In detail, we have close to 35 depots covered. There are lots of non functional Depots so there is no need adding them. Once they come up, we will update.
There is a feature on the App that talks about Logistics. Can you shed more light?
Andre: There is a directory for most companies that provide haulage. We want to have a directory where you can have trusted truck ventures that will account for safety, quantity and also durability to meet your timing. All these, we have to vet and see which of them meets the standards.
Aside insurance, what other criteria is needed?
Andre: Standards depend on FRSC and state regulators. Some trucks are not designed to pull 33,000 liters but because we are operating here, they use this to save cost. NUPENG is responsible for all the trucks moving petroleum products. Those trucks are supposed to be ‘verified’. Yes, NUPENG already have a good directory but we are saying: “Let’s support what you are doing”.
We are not just limited to NUPENG. We also work with PTD. We are saying for you to be recognized and be on board our App, you should have such certifications from the regulators.
How does the App deal with the issue of adulterated products?
Andre: It is a bit tricky. Sometimes, drivers tamper with products and at other times, the owners tamper with it themselves. There is always a time frame for trucks to move from a location to another. Eventually, we are developing a tracking system. There is a seal on every truck. So, the moment you raise the seal, and it is broken, one expects the product would have been tampered with if not done at the destination point.
The issue of Subsidy has been well talked about including Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF). How does this App speak to these and what value will it add?
Andre: PEF is supposed to help products pricing match within the country. The fund covers the distance cost for the marketers. Unfortunately, this has been abused because there is no system to check whether these marketers actually go where they apply to go to.
We have looked at an array of options to put a check on these. We are tracking the seal on the truck likewise the location. This helps accountability such that if you apply to go to a particular destination, that’s where you’ll go. It assists the government to know the fund is serving its purpose. These things can’t be achieved at a go. It is still work-in-progress at this stage.
Have you test- run this App?
Andre: We are test-running based on priority. There are some key persons currently using the App. The App is both on Android and Apple Play stores. The App also has a dedicated website to it.
What’s the drive behind creating this App?
Andre: Nine years operating in the downstream sector of the economy has made one see a lot of loopholes that have made me lose time and money. Business is about solving problems, before getting paid.
The drive is to see the downstream sector organized.
Is there a way the App can solve the Apapa traffic gridlock?
Andre: What we have now is that people just go to Apapa and assume there is product. What they do not know is that these depots load into the night. When we have this user base, it helps truckers decide. You don’t just deploy trucks randomly. You will know that if your truck is not scheduled to load, there is no need for you to be there.
Do you think Nigerians have come to that reception stage as regards embracing technology?
Andre: Nigeria has the highest number of Smartphone users in the world. It is one thing to own a Smartphone and another to know how to use it. The challenge will always be educating the users on the need to use it. Is there a need for them to use it? Yes. The world is moving at a fast speed on using technology to solve everything. It’s about time we start using technology to simplify everything. People would grow on technology because it helps make your work easier.
When the marketer realizes that he doesn’t have to be at the depot everyday to find out the price of what he needs, he’ll key into it. It’s a one-stop solution for the petroleum downstream sector.