Empowering the Nigerian Software Industry

Excerpts from Adeyemi Adepetun via The Guardian

The issue of developing indigenous software came to bear recently in Lagos at a two-day national workshop organised by the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) with the theme  “Status of Software Licensing and Development in Nigeria” .

At the end of the workshop, a communique was issued which observed that business transactions between indigenous licensees, software vendors and foreign licensors were being conducted in a haphazard and uncoordinated manner contrary to international best practices. It made a number of recommendations:

  • There is a dire need for government to create tax incentives to support local software development.
  • Government agencies such as NOTAP and NITDA need to develop a national policy framework to ensure that local vendors are not mere commission agents, but should acquire competent skills from foreign transferors as a means of developing variants of the softwares that can complement foreign ones.
  • NOTAP should draw up the requirements and sequence for e-registration process of technology transfer as a way to minimise delays in approval process.
  • Customisation and implementation of software services should be localised.
  • The curricula of Nigerian tertiary institutions offering courses in the ICT sector should be constantly reviewed to respond to the needs of the industry.
  • End-users of softwares should engage the services of specialists/experts and consultants when negotiating software license agreements.

Delivering the keynote address, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Alhasan Baku Zako revealed that between 1995 and 2008, Nigeria spent over N23 billion on the purchase of software products. He said as part of measures aimed at reversing this trend, the government would soon ensure that technologies inherent in software agreements between Nigerian companies and foreign companies were transferred to Nigerians.

Meanwhile, in his own paper, titled  “Strategies to domesticate software and ICT in Nigeria”, Prof. Cleaopas Angaye, the director-general, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA),  said that globalisation has become a major source of change. “There is a great demand of skilled software developers, system engineers, communication and network engineers etc. Nigeria has a great potential for software employment and earn foreign currency for national development”. The NITDA CEO said the strategies to domesticate software and ICT will include among others, strong government participation, it should be viewed as a major source of revenue earning, facilitation of investment in modern ICT infrastructures, better regulatory environment; development of national backbone, development of highly technical indigenous ICT workshop among others.

In his own submission, the 1st Vice President, Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), Dr. Chris Uwaje, stated that over 90 per cent of the software used in Nigeria is imported thereby creating enormous capital flight while Nigeria’s inability to effectively explore the software market is due to various challenges ranging from high cost of access to ICT, infrastructure capacity development, legislation lacuna, preference of foreign software over local ones, inadequate human capacity development, inadequate funding of ICT programmes, inadequate awareness on the part of policy makers, among others.