Experts seek tax concession to save technology sector
Technology experts have charged the Federal Government to seriously consider extending tax concessions to the technology sector as a means of encouraging the huge undoubted youthful potential in the sector to create a new economy.
Leading this charge was the Chairman, Zinox Technologies, Leo Stan Ekeh, who said the tech sector that is driving leading economies in the world, is struggling seriously in Nigeria.
While commending the government and its agencies, especially the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) for improving the tax revenue base of the country, Ekeh pleaded with the Federal Government to encourage a new and prosperous economy by allowing entrepreneurs in the ICT sector a decent tax-free period of at least ten years – an incentive that will see Nigeria prosper immensely in the technology front.
The Zinox Chairman made this call at the Silverbird Man of the Year Awards held in Lagos, at the weekend.Ekeh affirmed that these young men and women have globally certified education and need the right environment to exhibit their capacity, noting that if the country cannot provide it, the situation will create unfortunate ones who would resort to scientific robbery, kidnapping and many other vices. He also warned that the nation may not experience all-inclusive peace until we provide for these brilliant kids.
Another telecoms expert, Kehinde Aluko, urged the Federal Government to resolve the perennial Right of Way (RoW) challenges, stressing that the exorbitant charges by government and its agencies are slowing down expansion drive of investors.
According to him, tax concessions, including holidays would go a long way to unlock the enormous ICT potential in the country, especially as Nigeria plans to enthrone broadband regime.
The President, Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Olusola Teniola, said proliferation of taxes affect investors drive to expand their operations across the country. He stressed that already 26 taxes/levies are imposed on the ICT industry.Teniola said tax incentives will encourage needed investments in addressing quality of service (QoS), broadband roll-out and sustaining job creations.
“Any excessive tax will stall and/or stifle further growth in the ICT sector,” he stated. Ekeh, who received the Extraordinary Business Achievement Award at the event, disclosed that globally, technology has become the driving force behind the fortunes of many nations. According to him, the 10 richest men in the world and the biggest companies in the world today are in the technology sector – a reality that shows how technology remains the only profession that can help Nigeria bridge the gap between it and other advanced countries in the world.
“Technology is the only profession in the world today that can make the son of the poorest man the richest man in the world. Though still struggling, I am a practical testimony of the possibilities in the sector, having led several technology teams that deployed in Iraq, Libya, Guinea Bissau, etc. However, I am still Nigeria-based. It is not just its lifestyle nature but technology is the only profession in world today in which you can experience miracle wealth. Our kids have read, seen and worked in tech companies or tech-driven companies in the world that became multi-billion dollar companies within five years and they are smarter than many of these foreign entrepreneurs but their only sin is that they are Nigerians and living in Nigeria.
“My research shows that over 85 per cent of them would rather prefer to make money only from tech-driven platforms which certifies them as global citizens or do nothing.
“If the Federal Government can invest 20 per cent of what she has invested in the Agricultural sector in the Tech sector, over 75 per cent of present unemployed youths would become employed or self-employed in a profession that has a future. I am not against investment in the Agricultural sector, but it is a sector of extreme passion today due to its present analogue nature. Our leaders should ask their children who trained in quality institutions if any of them would want to do farming, for example. I’m sure the answer you will get is 100 per cent No. So, who do you expect his child to go into farming? Farming is good, but IT is a profession of passion. You can’t force a young man or woman to farm,” he stated.