This is a word that has been misused to the detriment of overall development of indigenous content. Some years back when car and truck assembly plants were still functional in this country, the then national assembly tasked the plants on the need to improve on the input of local content of the vehicles. I remember clearly a particular company touting that they have achieved over 30% local content input. The company then went to list the items supplied locally as cables, car seats, car paints, etc. The company in a sense is right since they sourced those items locally. But the question that needs to be addressed is whether the components were indigenously manufactured in Nigeria? If the government buys a car assembled in Nigeria, can it rightly say it has bought an indigenously manufactured car?
So we must distinguish between local input (content) and indigenous input.
This can be viewed as import substitution when some of the intermediate components that go into the manufacture of a product are now indigenously produced using local resources and technology. Let me clarify this. Most casings of laptop computers and mobile phones are made from the by-product of petrochemical refineries. Nigeria is a major crude oil producing and "refining" country, yet these components are still imported. If the downstream sector of the petroleum industry is developed casing and other similar component will produced indigenously.
There are many numerous definitions of the enabling environment and they range from all encompassing to narrow. For the purpose of this paper, I shall look at enabling environment as a set of interrelated conditions – such as legal, bureaucratic, fiscal, informational, political, and cultural – that impact on the capacity of investors to engage in investment processes in a sustained, effective and profitable manner.
We were made to understand that after World War II, products from Japan were ridiculed and denigrated by consumers for its presumed sub-standard quality. British made products were preferred. He said they use to derogatorily call it Japanese product: Fabrique au Japan. But today, Japanese products are very much in demand because it is believed to be of the highest quality. If in doubt, take a look through your window and count the number of Japanese cars out there; or do an audit of the household and consumer electronics in your house. If the Japanese government did not put in place favourable policies and create enabling environment that is favourable to investment, the country’s putative steps into manufacturing could have fizzled out.
The above scenario was recreated with Taiwanese, Korean and Singaporean made goods. Today, these countries are industrial powers, producing products that are competing favourably with, (and even surpassing in quality), products from North America and Europe. China, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, etc, are not far behind. The Asian Tigers are no longer coming; they are at our door steps!
Let’s move half a world away from the Asian Tigers. Nigeria’s Defence Industry Corporation, (DIC) was set up in the early 60s. I understand the Brazilian government following in the footsteps of Nigeria, set up her own equivalent 6 months after Nigeria. Today, the Brazilian own is indigenously manufacturing military hardware such as airplanes, warships, missiles, etc. In fact in the early 80s, many of us present here were eye witnesses to the berthing of Brazilian manufactured submarine at Marina when her Navy paid a visit to Nigeria. Compare this to the feat done by our own DIC. Last year it was announced that Nigerian DIC has started the assembling of AK47 rifles which they ingeniously named OBJ-007. Talk of comparing an airplane with bicycle!
Whither Nigeria? Where lies the problem?
The ICT industry is unique in that we are now in the Information Age with attendant dependence on the Internet for most transactions. Information Societies are emerging changing the ways business is conducted. Under this present scenario, the use of ICT product is pervasive affecting all sectors of a country. Anything that affects the ICT industry affects the entire human society. Any business that refuses to adapt becomes history. This being so, the manufacturers and producers of this business and productivity tool (ICT tool) need to be encouraged to make these tools available to the vast majority of the populace at affordable rate in order to empower the new e-work force. For MDG to be achieved, as many citizens as possible need to be empowered to function optimally in the new Information Society, if Nigeria is to achieve her desire of being among the top 20 economies in the world by the year 2020).
What factors impact Content Development?
From my experience, Nigeria is not an investor friendly country. What is prodding some of us on is the faith that things may get better; that generation unborn will be spared the anomaly that we have experienced; and finally to make a difference in this generation. Business practices in global markets are changing because of international competition and Nigeria has to key into it or risk remaining in the back waters of development. The Nigerian private sector, which consists of small, medium, and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs) and the informal sector, is widely regarded as a potential engine of growth in the information economy. Government favourable policies will provide opportunities for competent ones to increase their markets and trading potential well beyond the Nigerian borders. This will in turn provide capital that will aid research into indigenous inputs and content development.