The need for Nigeria to develop its local content needs has been re-emphasised as a sure way to grow the economy and an absolute source of fostering foreign direct investment (FDI) and developing globally competitive skills within the country.
This is the view of the Coordinator, Association of Information Communication Technology Local Content (ICTLOCA), Mr. Adebunmi Adeola Akinbo, as he further noted that the federal government has a big role to play in ensuring that fueling local content will generate growth in the economy.
Mr. Akinbo, who spoke at a forum in Lagos said that funding and galvanizing Innovations in the country is an exclusive preserve of the federal government. He explained that until governments realize that they should provide the resources for incubating innovations, and thereby own the intellectual rights, the country may not achieve the full benefit of its human resource in ICT.
According to him, while ensuring the encouragement of Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), there is a greater need to use local content as stimulant to economic recovery through policies and guidelines formation, consumer protection and knowledge transfer by multinationals and Nigerian business community.
Other steps that will guarantee this growth include collaborations between public sector organisations; collaborations between Private sector bodies; building a Private–Public–Partnership on local content policing and formulating strategies and taking action on them.
It will be recalled that the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami recently directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to review its local content policy implementation to align with the mandate of the Federal Government.
A statement from the Minister notes that Executive Orders 003 of 2017 and 005 of 2018, were specifically enacted to give stimulus to the local content development and promotion drive of present administration as the Telecommunications subsector is one of the most important.
Speaking on the premise that indigenous companies are being sidelined in patronage and procurements, Dr. Pantami further explained the provisions of the directive: “Executive Order 003, which is aimed at support for Local Content in public procurement by the Federal Government of Nigeria, expressly states that all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) shall grant preference to local manufacturers of goods and service providers, in their procurement of goods and services.”
He enumerated the areas of immediate concern and charged the NCC to speedily review the Telecommunications sub-sector activities and give top priority and preference to Nigerian companies with the requisite skills and qualifications; to provide an enabling environment for local capacity to develop through collaborations with foreign companies, in the event that the contract is awarded to a foreign company, where indigenous capacity is lacking; and to ensure that patronage of Indigenous Content, as outlined in the Executive Orders are complied with, in the sub-sector.
President of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Mr. Olusola Teniola also lent his voice while listing some of the challenges that have held down the industry. According to him, the absence of a viable marriage between effective government policies and the ability to manage technological innovation, especially in the lack of an environment that is characterised by much uncertainty.