With the high rate of foreign exchange, and attendant high cost of products and services, Nigerians have been reminded that the country can save a whooping $2.8 billion annually with focus on local content.
Statistics have it that the Nigerian technology market in the hands of foreign brands could have risen up to 70 percent, thereby necessitating the importation of ICT hardware and services up to the tone of $2.8 billion annually.
According to the Minister of Communications, Barr. Abdul-Raheem Adebayo Shittu, this worrisome source of capital flight has been attributed to apathy for locally made products by Nigerians
The Minister stressed that there will be no excuse for Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government (MDAs) not to patronize indigenous ICT products and services. This, he noted, is because local content is vital in achieving the overriding mandate of economic diversification and empowerment of the ICT ecosystem in the country.
He further explained that local patronage of ICT products and service, among others, is aimed at achieving local skills development, technology transfer, use of local manpower and indigenous manufacturing. He enthused that it will further have a triple effect to increase demand, thereby creating more jobs and contributing to the job & wealth creation component of the federal government’s ‘Change’ mantra.
The Local Content Development Policy, which is already in place, is geared at protecting indigenous players in the industry and will further galvanise right policies that would see to the need of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs).
The National Information Technology Development Association (NITDA)is charged with the responsibility of developing and implementing the local content programme in ICT. It will be recalled that in 2015, the country was estimated to have lost $2 billion to the continued importation of ICT hardware and services.
According to the coordinator, Office for Nigerian Content (ONC) in ICT, Inye Kemabonta, a semi-autonomous, development-focused special purpose vehicle of NITDA charged with the implementation of the Nigerian Content Development (NCD) programme and championing the development of Nigerian Content in ICT, there is an unfair balance that tilts towards foreign patronage of ICT products and services which must be addressed by encouraging and infusing local content into the ICT market.
He lamented the practices that go on in the hardware, software, Value Added Services (VAS) and other services segments of the ICT industry, further explaining that when Nigerians pay for any software or hardware that is not produced in Nigeria, the money goes to some foreign government or company, where such product was produced.
Exampling, he noted all the social media applications have little or no Nigerian content in them, yet Nigeria is one of their biggest markets. “We don’t have our own Nigerian Yahoo and other social media in spite of the fact that we are the most populous country in Africa,” he argued.
According to the ONC, major multinational ICT hardware OEMs such as Samsung, Acer; HP; Dell; Asus; Toshiba and Lenovo among others currently account for 70 per cent of sales in the market, while indigenous brands including Zinox Computers; Omatek Computers and Brian Integrated Systems, make up the remaining 30 per cent.
While pledging that the government will sever itself as a technology dumping ground, Barr. Shittu further emphasized that government’s role is to provide an enabling environment within a free market economy.
He noted that as a way forward, the government had put in place policies and implementation that will bring recognition to indigenous creativity and protect Intellectual Property with emphasis that the Local Content Policy and guideline would be enforced to the letter.