Shittu visits AfriOne, promises FG’s patronage of local technology firms
The Nigerian government is working to discourage the country’s technology market from becoming a dumping ground for inferior overseas products and ensure local tech companies are strengthened, Nigeria’s minister of communication and technology Adebayo Shittu said on Tuesday.
“We will prevent, or at least, discourage the continuing practice of making Nigeria a dumping ground for all kinds of products and services,” Shittu said during a facility tour of AfriOne’s state-of-the-art laptop and mobile devices factory in Lagos.
Incorporated in Nigeria in 2016, AfriOne’s aim of playing a big role in Africa’s mobile assembly market saw it launch its factory in Lagos, Nigeria’s economic hub, on April 21.
Sitting on 20,000 square feet of land, the factory has the capacity to produce 300,000 devices monthly.
Already among the companies selected to supply devices to be used by beneficiaries of the Nigerian government’s N-Power Volunteer Scheme, the minister said local firms such as AfriOne deserve to be protected from undue industry competition.
“I have visited factories like this overseas. So When I see something like this in Nigeria, I want to put my full weight behind it and to ensure we promote it so that government would take it as its own project,” Shittu said.
The Nigerian government’s local content policy, Shittu said, is designed to favour indigenous companies. In addition, the minister said the federal government is in the process of establishing an ICT development bank that would help companies “create easy financing to develop their products and marketing strategies not only for the Nigerian and West African markets” but also for the African tech market.
He, however, said the government would only give tax rebates to companies who make a genuine case for it.
“If we have cases that are strong enough, certainly, the federal government would look at it,” he said.
Lekan Akinjide, AfriOne’s director of strategy and government relations, said the company’s products, which include laptops, tablets and mobile phones, can compete favourably with top players in the industry, especially with the added advantage of an indigenous end-to-end supply chain.
“It is the same quality, it is the same benchmark, it is the same testing that our products go through but with accessible servicing and repairs,” Akinjide said. “We have a team here…so in terms of repair works, and servicing, they are done locally.”
Sandeep Natu, AfriOne’s production director, who conducted the facility tour, insisted the company was already to create a viable economic cluster that would include suppliers of the different components it needs.