*More than 70% of ICT components are currently being imported from abroad
IT NEWS NIGERIA:
Nigeria, as matter of urgency, must rework the nation’s investment and employment policy in order to arrest the issue of local content.
This is according to the managing director of e.Stream Networks, Mr Muyiwa Ogungboye while speaking at the Third Quarter Forum of the Nigeria Information Technology Reporters’ Association (NITRA) in Lagos.
The theme of the NITRA Third Quarter Forum is: “Local Content Development In Nigeria’s ICT Sector: Stimulant for National Economic Recovery.”
According to him, the new policy will address issues of so many expatriate staff and transfer of technology to Nigerians for any foreign investors in the Information and Communication Technology.
“Nigeria should rework her investment and employment policy and draw plans of actions and programmes to develop the ICT sector”, he said.
In order for the ICT sector to supplement or replace the Oil and Gas sector, he said policies which favour the sector must be put in place. “It should be emphasized that the petroleum industry which used to be the cash cow for our nation (from a foreign exchange earning perspective) is not doing so well right now and this is a global issue that will take some time to recover. The direct implication of this is that we may not be able to finance our budget without resorting to further government borrowing. ICT can as a matter of fact serve as the new cash cow for the country provided the right polices are put in place,” he added.
Mr. Ogungboye, who Chaired the occasion and also 2nd Vice President of Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), added that it is surprising that the Federal Government does not give priority to the ICT sector when planning for the country budget despite our huge contributions to the Gross Domestic Product. “We all know that more than 70% of ICT components are currently being imported from abroad. It has been established that this sector is contributing about 8% to our Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Our members can no longer buy USD$ directly from CBN designated banks which has significantly pushed the cost of doing business higher,” he said.
System Spec’s CEO, John Obaro who was ably represented by Emmanuel Eze explained that the company is founded on local content and all software application used in the company were developed locally.
“Every software application we use at System Spec is homemade and not foreign. Our policy is local content and we develop for local use and able to export to other African countries,” he added.
Stakeholders agree that the benefits of liberalizing the telecom and ICT sector would not accrue to Nigerian teeming population until the necessary action is taking by the Nigerian government at all levels. Many years back, Nigeria as a nation embarked on indigenization policy to increase the stake of Nigerians as well as solve the challenge of unemployment but this policy did not last because of lack of tenacious vision and dogged implementation on the part of the federal government.
To reduce or eradicate the continuous unemployment of Nigerian youth (skilled and unskilled) there is an urgent need to reintroduce the indigenization policy in the form of local contents policy and our government should as a matter of urgency encourage knowledge and the skills (the know-how) transfer.
Stakeholders at the NITRA Third Quarter Forum highlighted the opportunities and challenges of deploying local content in the country’s ICT sector and urgent need to re-event the industry.