Nigerians do not trust local software, leaving the industry with potentials to generate some $100 billion annually to operate in fits and starts, Nigeria CommunicationsWeek can now report.
Also, the government supposed to support the industry with political willpower look elsewhere, unbridled importation of software into the country contibutes to killing what is left of the indigenous developers.
As a result, Nigeria is the prime destination of all manners of offshore software companies which export billions of dollars annually in the name of deployment and payment for licensing fees.
As if the problems of the local software industry are not enough, lack of continuity in policy formulation, strategic plans, and implementation procedure as well as high interest rate on loans and the absence of venture capital have also conspired to hobble the growth of the industry.
Local practitioners warn that unless government moves to check the organized chaos and the unregulated importation of software products and service by public and private sectors, the industry will collapse.
They said with quality of human capital in the country, Nigeria can emerge as a global competitor in the software market with profound effect on wealth and job creations.
Nigeria CommunicationsWeek gathered that the global software industry has grown purely on the strong political willpower of government of various countries not only to export their local knowledge solutions but also to ensure the local usage and patronage of such solutions.
In Nigeria, government’s lip service to promoting local content and indigenous has manifested in its lack of vision and commitment.
James Agada, managing director of ExpertEdge Software Limited noted that it is wrong to reason that the software sector could develop in isolation of other sectors of the Nigerian economy.
“What is working in Nigeria? The software industry will only grow at parity with every other thing in the country. Take a look at education, infrastructure, security, and power, what is working at optimal level? Software industry will grow when every-thing-else begins to experience growth,” said Agada.
He noted that “nobody trusts Nigerians and anything from Nigeria. Trust is a critical element of the development equation. When our politicians behave the way they do, and the youth take a cue from them to go on the internet and transact unwholesome businesses, it impacts negatively on the national psyche.”
Nodding in agreement, Akeem Aponmade, an intellectual property law expert, noted that Nigerians must first appreciate the work of a software developer as owner of “intellectual property.”
Getting Nigerians to appreciate the work of a software developer means that government must lead the way by purchasing and encouraging Nigerians to purchase locally made software.
Chris Uwaje, president, Institute of Software Developers of Nigeria (Ispon) and an avid campaigner of local software said that government must act fast in boosting local software development in the country, in order to save the situation.
In one of his campaigns for local software, he said that: “A simple National Software Development policy and conscious IT legislations (Acts of the National Assembly) can turn the Nation’s Software fortune around. The time to act is now! Our universities need software strategic plans and a robust Campus Intranet Infrastructure Backbone to engage in the knowledge economy. New knowledge must precede new technological products and the supercomputer of today will become the everyday nano-computer of tomorrow”.
But Agada said there are urgent things to do.
“Our number one priority as a nation should be development of the power sector, and other things will grow along. The mistake of comparing Nigerian software industry to that of India should not arise,” he stated.
Concurring, Aponmade said, “You must appreciate the fact that this intellectual property adds value to the turnover of a given industry. We have to appreciate the fact that intellectual property has the propensity of adding value to the GDP of the nation.”
He challenged the government to come up with workable policy aimed at creating an enabling environment for software developers to strive in the country.
“The government can start by asking all its ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to consume local programmes developed by Nigerians. The armed forces and other security agencies should also be compelled to not only use Nigerian programmes, but be made to pay good value for the properties,” he enthused.
Nigeria CommunicationsWeek also gathered that the judicial system needs to be strengthened for the protection of intellectual property owners.
India, one of the countries globally acclaimed as having done well in ICT development over the last two decades is said to have done well because it has put in place world class infrastructure for the sector to grow.