Software practitioners seek enforcement of ‘Made-in-Nigeria’ campaign
Local PC manufacturers control eight per cent of market
As the race to becoming a knowledge economy gets intensified among nations, especially in Africa, with countries including Rwanda, Angola already leading the pace, software practitioners in the country have insisted that the ‘Made- in-Nigeria’ campaign would make huge difference for the country if well articulated and enforced by the government.
This is even has it has been adequately revealed that Nigerian branded computers represented less than eight per cent of all computers bought in the country.
Speaking in Lagos, at the second edition of TechPlus, a Director from the National Information and Technology Development Agency (NITDA) Dr. Femi Adeluyi, said from the agency’s oversight function, it discovered that local PC manufacturers can only boast of controlling just eight per cent of the market, with dominance coming from the foreign brands.
He revealed that there has been serious Import-Export Imbalance in the country. Quoting, a United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report, Adeluyi said in 2012, Nigeria imported $2 billion of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) goods but only exported $5 million, which leaves the country with an Export-Import Ratio of 1: 4001.
Meanwhile, Software Practitioners, under the aegis of the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), during their visit to the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, in Abuja, at the weekend, urged the Federal Government to enforce earlier directive on the patronage of Made- in-Nigeria IT solutions by the regime of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The Federal Executive Council in 2006 through the then Secretary to the Federal Government, Chief Ufot Ekaette, in a memo had directed Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to patronise ‘Made-in-Nigeria’ software products and services.
However and probably because there were no sanctions to back the order, consumption of foreign IT products and service has plummeted in the country.
Worried about with this development, ISPON visited the Ministry of Communication to trade ideas on software development and Nigeria’s drive towards enthroning a knowledge economy.
According to ISPON, the country’s quest for digital economy may not materialize, unless software development in Nigeria is given a major priority.
In his presentation to the minister, the ISPON President, Olorogun James Emadoye, prayed the government to have a rethink on software Nigeria.
Noting that ‘Made- in- Nigeria’ IT solutions and services could be retooled for global competitions, he said that the Wing Federal Secretariat Ikoyi would have been a mini version of silicon valley for Nigeria where resources would have been collocated for better results.
Lamenting that Nigeria’s e-readiness is worrisome due to policy inconsistency; Emadoye said that there was need to create new inclusive relationships in public sector at all levels of governance as well as cross-sectoral stakeholder communities.
While urging the minister to facilitate earlier directive on patronage of software Nigeria, he added that there was need to accelerate and deepen its engagements to energise the ecosystem and connect with as many of the players and institutions emerging in the country.
According to him, for Nigeria’s prosperity beyond oil, ICT holds significant opportunities and “which ever way we look at it, software is strategic to that huge potential.
Emadoye pointed out that the war against corruptions is a digital one, which is a small task for ISPON; an area where software practitioners can intervene in government without much noise, with little capital expenditure and more effective results.
“Software developers and Software entrepreneurs are global citizens able to work across boarders without travelling restrictions”, he explained.
According to Emadoye, ISPON wants the National Information and Technology Development Agency (NITDA) to take up this challenge.
As such in realization of Ministry of Communication as the main government department charged with the development of IT sector of which software is core, the ISPON President said there was need to introduce computer programming and software in primary and secondary schools; initiate immediate revision of software /computer engineering courses for tertiary institutions; creation of Software and Future Technology Institute (SFTI) in Nigeria.
Responding, Shittu, who admitted that he was not aware of the earlier government’s directive on software Nigeria, urged software practitioners to come up with new proposals on how best to move the industry forward.
He pledged that a section of the Abuja Technology Village could be converted to an IT Park for innovation and exhibition of software solutions.
“We welcome good suggestions that can move the industry forward. Come up with good ideas”, he stated.