NCS decries mass exodus of ICT skills, capital flight
As it is happening in the health sector, the information and communications technology (ICT) arm of the economy is equally experiencing exodus of exceptionally brilliant indigenous skills to other countries. These countries are now said to be selling the same skills back to Nigeria at exorbitant rates, resulting in attendant capital flight.
Although no specific figure has been given yet, the Nigerian Computer Society (NCS), which raised the alarm, however wants the Federal Government to declare emergency on ICT skills flight.
Speaking with journalists in Lagos, the NCS President, Prof. Adesola Aderounmu, said urgent steps must be taken to avoid dearth and scarcity of ICT skills in Nigeria, noting that this was part of the gaps created as a result of poor implementation of local content policy in the sector.
Aderounmu argued that despite official declaration, this in practical terms shows extremely low commitment to the implementation of the ICT Local Content Policy, and does not show much evidence of a structured approach to ensuring Nigerian ICT firms are prepared by government to take advantage of emergent national ICT opportunities.
He submitted that the absence of a solid platform to showcase indigenous ICT solutions to the global audience in such a way that makes Nigeria a net exporter of and revenue earner from ICT, is another issue fuelling the challenge.
“Beyond the NITDA-led delegation to the yearly GITEX show in Dubai, when will government create a veritable platform to nurture, package and showcase successful ICT solutions developed in Nigeria on foreign missions, exhibitions and as technical aid to other countries?,” he asked, warning that if urgent measures are not put in place, more challenges are imminent.
Speaking on the forthcoming NCS yearly conference, the 14th edition, from July 16th to 19th at the International Conference Centre, Gombe, Gombe State, themed, “Smart Nations, Digital Economies and Meaningful Lives,” Aderounmu also called on the Federal Government to urgently intervene in the case of some of its members, including Remita, Chams, and Omatek.
In particular, he urged Government to urgently address issues surrounding the non-payment of entitlements to Remita (developed by SystemSpecs), which drives the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
Although Aderounmu could not say exactly how much the government owes Remita, he however said issues surrounding Chams involvement in the National Identity Card project and the inability of the Bank of Industry (BoI) to unlock the premises of Omatek Computers for out-of-court settlement, indicate the need for more local content development and adoption.
NCS noted that there are many Federal Government projects in general and IT projects in particular that could resolve the unemployment crisis in Nigeria, if properly executed.
“One of such projects is the National Identity Management System (NIMS) project. NCS notes that the number of enrolments into the NIMS has accelerated as a result of a number of regulatory innovations introduced by the current administration such as the integration of the National Identity Number (NIN) into the issuance and renewal of International Passports by the Nigeria Immigration Service. Such regulatory innovations will definitely result in economic growth.
“It is in the light of the foregoing, NCS highlights the plight of one of our corporate members, Chams Plc (and Chams Consortium Ltd., (CCL)), a forefront operator of the National Identity Management System Concession (the Concession), which commenced officially in the year 2010. It is on record that Chams made huge investments, in excess of N9 billion into the concession.
“Chams however, suffered many frustrations which eventually snowballed into an unresolved state of affairs. This is despite the fact that Chams Plc has submitted to an amicable resolution in furtherance of her faith in the present administration. NCS calls for urgent and decisive intervention to salvage Chams Plc’s position and allow Chams Plc and Chams Consortium Ltd reap the fruits of an amicable resolution freely entered into with the NIMC.”
Aderounmu urged that NIMC stand by and enforce the Terms of the Mediation Agreement of December 19th, 2017, to enable Chams Plc execute assigned business opportunities under the NIMS project, and hence regain stability towards restoring its share valuation, which has suffered massive erosion consequence of the plight on the NIMC project.