The Federal Government plans to rid Nigeria of foreign technologies that stifle growth of the local information communication technology (ICT) industry.
Barrister Adebayo Shittu, Minister of Communications, dropped this hint at a Compliance Workshop on Procurement of indigenous ICT Products and Services by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in Abuja, organized by National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and Office for Nigeria Content in ICT.
The Minister told the forum that the policy is not aimed at driving away foreign ICT companies in Nigeria but to encourage them to set up in-country factories or partner with local operators. [quote font=”georgia” font_size=”22″ font_style=”italic” align=”right” bgcolor=”#” color=”#” bcolor=”#” arrow=”yes”]“Under my watch, Nigeria will not be a dumping ground for all forms of technologies. Nigerians are good intellectually. We can also export out inventions and innovations abroad”, the Communications Minister says noting that his tenure will put an end to dumping of all forms of foreign technologies. Shittu also expressed concern over the apathy of Nigerians in patronizing indigenous products and services making Nigeria lose $2.8billion yearly to the continued importation of ICT hardware and services.[/quote]
According to the Communications Minister, who oversees the ICT sector, “alternatively, they can buy component of their systems that are produced by local manufacturers as well as maintain in-country research and development department for the purpose of product conceptualization, capacity building, innovation, adaptation and design and prototype development.”
The Minister explains that Nigeria is losing huge chunks of her revenue to the importation of ICT products and services to foreign companies, a development that “has become a challenge bedeviling the growth of local ICT companies.”
“Under my watch, Nigeria will not be a dumping ground for all forms of technologies. Nigerians are good intellectually. We can also export out inventions and innovations abroad”, the Communications Minister says noting that his tenure will put an end to dumping of all forms of foreign technologies.
Shittu also expressed concern over the apathy of Nigerians in patronizing indigenous products and services making Nigeria lose $2.8billion yearly to the continued importation of ICT hardware and services.
It was against this background that the government came up with ICT Local Content Policy to protect indigenous ICT companies, the Communications Minister said noting that “all efforts would be channeled toward ensuring that all the local Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) of products and services get patronage in the country.”
Government plans to unveil the blueprint for smooth implementation of the policy to protect indigenous players in the industry, the Minister added stressing that local content development is a major focus of the present administration.
Mr. Inye Kemabonta, The National Coordinator, Office for Nigeria Content in ICT informed the stakeholders on the need to support the Office to achieve the desire objective of its creation.
According the ONC Co-Ordinator, stakeholders should see non-patronage of local ICT products and services as not only unpatriotic, “but consider it as a criminal act to buy foreign product where there are local alternatives.”
The objectives of the Local Content Policy in ICT were to create jobs, increase human capacity development and reduce the pressure on the foreign exchange.
In his welcome address, Dr. Vincent Olatunji, Acting Director General of NITDA said the country has missed out on the long term economic reward and benefits of ICT because it failed to look inward to develop solutions towards solving her socio-economic challenges.
“Accordingly, we desperately need to develop our own internal capacity and solutions based on the initiatives outlined in our local content policy an guidelines”, Olatunji said adding that compliance to the Local Content Guidelines is vital in achieving the mandate of economic diversification and empowerment of the ICT ecosystem in Nigeria.
The NITDA chief said that henceforth any MDA that defaults in promoting local content in ICT would be committing a crime.
According to NITDA’s Olatunji, “NITDA will no longer tolerate any breach of this regulation and will ensure breaches no longer go unpunished”, while underscoring that the workshop would provide enlightenment to Heads of ICT, Planning and Procurement on the local content guidelines.
According to the NITDA chief, the nation’s IT implementing agency through the Ministry of Communications, would send a memo to the Federal Executive Council to re-validate government’s directive on patronage of Made-in-Nigeria ICT products and services.