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Federal Govt budgets $1b for software importation

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The Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami has lamented the huge foreign exchange (forex) wasted yearly on the importation of information communication technology (ICT) goods and services.

Pantami said a whopping $1 billion or four per cent of this year’s budget would used for the importation of software, some which are local substitutes while a total of $2.8billion is spent yearly on the importation of ICT goods and services.

Speaking at the weekend in Lagos during this year’s Institution of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON’s) Presidential Dinner, he said NITDA would work hard to stop the needless forex hemorrhage.

He said: “Nigeria expends about $2.8billion annually on the importation of ICT goods and services. A huge amount of almost $1billion or about four per cent of the proposed 2017 budget will be spent on software importation.

As the regulator of the sector, NITDA is eager to reverse this trend and we are keen to ensure that our local content policy is promoted and enforced. We are committed to local content policy for the development of our emerging ICT sector and for reduction of capital flight.

“We are committed to reverse this trend of uncontrolled inflow of foreign software to the detriment of our own local software. We seek to identify, strengthen and promote our indigenous software as an alternative to the foreign software that currently dominated our ICT sector. After all, facts and figures at our disposal suggest that the local software alternatives are performing well at a much lower cost.”

ISPON President, Olorogun James Emadoye, said Nigeria is ripe for a strategic legislation on software if the country must change the tide that has turned it to a digital colony of the 21st century. He lamented that overdependence on offshore software promotes joblessness and it attendant crime rates in the country.

He said: “You may have heard that the 2016 budget had well over N15billion provision for ‘Computer Software Acquisitions’. ISPON was highly optimistic when it came across this figure in the approved budget and took the initiative to inform ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) on the need to patronise software Nigeria in the real meaning of software Nigeria and not foreign software that are sold by installation and customising agents in Nigeria.

“ISPON believes that such effort at the use of made-in-Nigeria software will create millions of jobs for Nigerians and set Nigeria on the path of self-sufficiency in software. If 70 per cent of the well over N15billion had been spent in/for software Nigeria, the impact would have been felt in all facets of the economy – with ability to generate many billions of naira along the value chain.

“We believe that Nigerians are smart people and as such we should be able to serve our needs software wise, earn foreign exchange from software sales and support and therefore conserve/safe unnecessary wasteful spending of the scarce foreign exchange earned from oil with the overall goal of increasing that earning and contributing at least, nine per cent to the gross domestic product (GDP) from locally produced software products and services.”

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