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Software Can Generate $10b Annually if Harnessed-Obaro

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John Obaro is the managing director of SystemSpecs. He has had a distinguished IT management career and is regarded as one of the most respected personalities in the Nigerian IT industry.

Under his leadership, and with a team of professionals with varied experience, SystemSpecs has attained the enviable position of Nigeria’s leading software house and aspiring to become the de-facto software institution in Africa.

Before establishing Systemspecs, Obaro worked with United Bank of Africa, International Merchant Bank (IMB) among others.

He spoke on issues around software development in the country.

Evolution of SystemSpecs In the Software Space
I left Intercontinental Merchant Bank (IMB) in 1992 as Head of Systems Department to start SystemSpecs.

This was after I led a team that implemented Nigeria’s first international banking application on a network linking Lagos and four other towns. 

By this laudable feat, I helped in pioneering Nigeria’s online real-time banking at a time when most banks were still debating its feasibility.

SystemSpecs started with a foreign financial and business application called SunSystems and due to demand from our clients then, we decided to develop HumanManager, a Payroll/HR application.

As the market developed and we began to envision the emergence of e-business and e-payment space in Nigeria, we went ahead to develop and introduce Remita, a world class e-Payment application into the Nigerian market.

Remita has today been adopted by all Nigerian banks and is used for the payment of all Federal Government contractors and employees under the Central Bank of Nigeria’s e-payment initiative.

Attaining leadership requires foresight, creativity, innovation, focus, excellence, discipline, hard work, resilience, patience and consistency; these are necessary roads that any successful entrepreneur must travel and we give God the glory for where we are today.

SystemSpecs is strictly a software company with focus on e-payments, financial and human resource management applications.

Challenges of Nigerian Software Industry
Nigeria, like most African countries that are in the developing nation’s league is predominantly plagued with “information poverty”.

Data is such a hard thing to find in Nigeria, so people just make up the numbers and the man that can shout the loudest gets the most attention. Unfortunately, you don’t really need to shout to win an argument if you have verifiable facts.

Today, no one can estimate the country’s earnings from software exports as they would for cocoa or oil export. 

According to National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP), the country loses over $1billion annually to software importation simply because most Nigerian companies prefer to import foreign off-the-shelves software to meet local needs where indigenous software could have provided better solutions.

Any software that comes from abroad was built mainly for that environment and anyone who uses it here is just a secondary user.

This has further thinned the potential of the Nigerian software market which by now should be in excess of probably $10billion annually if well harnessed.

There are some people who don’t believe in themselves, therefore, they cannot even believein their immediate environment.

Their belief is that something must come only from the western world for it to be good. I put that to ignorance.

However, this is not to say that I am not mindful of some challenges with a few locally developed software such as low quality assurance, non-scalability, improper documentation and packaging among myriads of other issues. If we don’t deliberately share success stories, no one will believe the indigenous software space is really worth the effort.

SystemSpecs’ Critical Success Factors
We have done a lot with the Remita integrated solution. You can’t get that anywhere in the world because they, for instance, do not have “ghost worker” challenges.

So, I will say it is high time government further encouraged the use and adoption of indigenous software in the country. I think with the right policies and awareness, indigenous software will blossom in the country.

Trends & Opportunities in the Nigerian Software Industry
Today, we live in a world that is driven by information technology and the software industry  which has been a source of galloping income for some countries is at the driver’s seat. 

A faster and more powerful economic and technological development has taken off in Africa and the Nigerian Software industry is likely going to easily become the most significant regional player going by current developments in the country.

There are so many opportunities for the software industry in a developing economy like Nigeria given the low capital entry requirements as well as the industry’s high value, high growth, high technology and knowledge-rich profile of software activities.

It is apparent that the industry requires skilled manpower but few raw materials which are not in any way damaging to the environment.

There is a big opportunity to remake the software space because of the fundamental shift of the software business focus from just the corporate market to the consumer experience.

The need to bring the consumer experience into the development and use of software is good ground for easy harvests. 

There should be sufficient home-grown software that can handle the day-to-day lifestyle of the Nigerian people.

The major requirement for the software industry is human capital and with the country’s size and abundant supply of low cost software engineers or graduates, majority of whom are self-taught, the country stands a chance to provide highly skilled professionals with absolute wage comparative advantage in the international software market.

 Nigerians are beginning to realize the importance of software for day-to-day activities and have therefore began to invest in this sector, although the rate at which the industry is growing is still at a very slow pace.

Cloud computing and mobile applications are also new trends in software development. In these areas there are so many opportunities for developers who know and understand these technologies.

Opportunities for Upcoming Software Developers
Software development is an art. You must develop some kind of stronginterest in it for you to succeed.

Apart from updating your knowledge and skills through training on new technologies, you must be focused and patient.

 There are lots of institutions with the right development programmes springing up to help interested persons in software engineering and related fields. So get up and get trained!

Whether as an employee or a self-starter, you will require mentorship for product and industry understanding.

Mentoring helps you to gain good momentum and quickly exit when your venture is not likely to succeed.

 Like I said earlier, you really have to be creative to succeed in the software industry.  It may already be too late trying to develop a banking application in Nigeria right now because we have lost that to the foreign players but when you understand what banking means to you as an individual you can develop software around it to address specific unmet or undiscovered needs.

This is why the mobile money application was so successful in Kenya unlike Europe where there are so many banks with several transaction platforms.

 To become a successful entrepreneur you must also develop certain skills in management, marketing and human relations.

Launching Pads for Entrepreneurs
Do not make money your goal, make the delivery of quality software your goal and remember this may take some time, and then money will come.

Be patient. A lot of software companies that will stand the test of time do take a long time to build.

 You may need to learn three vocabularies; “Partnership, Collaboration and Team execution”. Even marathon races have support.

This is one of the ways you can create safety net for yourself and mitigate the risk of wearing out during the software development phase as a self-starter especially knowing fully well that there are some heavyweights in the industry lurking around to offer you jobs rather than partnerships as a small developer.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes but don’t make the same mistake twice. Be ready to fail. Unfortunately, today there is the stigmatization of failure in our environment.

The whole idea about success without failure is really funny.

The Remita product that the whole nation boasts of today was a product of a failed bid! Be creative and resilient in the execution of your business plan and it’s not just about business plans but the thinking behind the assumptions of your business plan that matters.

Be professional in managing people and finances and go to school to learn same if need be.

If you happen to require loans, seek help first from informal sources. If your friends and family have not invested in you, why should someone else?

You must develop a thick skin especially to survive the Nigerian business terrain and by this I mean a strong staying power; the ability to stay focused on what you believe to be a solution that can sell.

Understand the intellectual property laws and rights, and don’t be in a hurry to give out your code without protection. It could be costly.

Prospective Entrants into the Software Industry
Software industry is such an amazing one because of its potential for the economy of individuals and nations. India today makes more money from software than Nigeria makes from oil.

The richest companies in the world today are in the computer industry.

Records have it that half of the ten richest men in the United States made their money from software-related businesses.

However, more than making the money is the fulfillment of helping to solve daily life’s problems for people.

If you must enter the industry as an employee or entrepreneur, I will leave you with three words and they are “innovation, innovation, and innovation”.

Innovation is apt in designs and architecture, in business models, and in monetizing your solutions using cost effective solutions distribution mechanism.


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NCC, Digital Encode Support NITRA Innovative Tech Forum On Post-COVID-19 Strategies

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Nigeria’s telecommunications regulator and Digital Encode, Cybersecurity and Compliance advisory company, have indicated interest to partner with the Nigeria Information Technology Reporters Association (NITRA), the national umbrella body of ICT reporters, as it organizes a forum that will x-ray the industry’s future plans for ICT growth post pandemic era.

 

The event, slated to hold on October 15, 2020, will seek to discuss the needs for a fortified ICT sector after the COVID-19 era, and the level of preparedness of ICT stakeholders to embrace the challenge of being pivotal to the stability and growth of all other sectors.

 

A statement from NITRA National Secretariat in Lagos indicates that due to the pandemic and need to observe the COVID-19 protocol on social distancing, the event will be held via a Webinar.

 

This year’s theme, “Multi-stakeholder Approach To National Recovery Post-Pandemic”, is in line with the annual event’s generic theme, ‘NITRA Innovative Tech Forum’, a contribution by NITRA to the development of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) innovations and policies in Nigeria.

 

Prof. Umar Danbatta, executive vice chairman, NCC is expected to deliver the keynote speech at the event and will throw more light on Federal Government’s plans, programmes and policies on post-pandemic strategies using ICT.

 

Dr. Adewale Obadare and Dr. Seyi Akindeinde, founders of Digital Encode, while accepting to support the event expressed their readiness to offer their expertise in Cybersecurity for organisations to prepare against cyber- attacks with the new normal.

 

They will also highlight areas that are high risks that need fortification in terms of cybersecurity.

 

Speaking on the event, Mr. Chike Onwuegbuchi, national chairman, NITRA, noted that as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to leave its negative trails across the globe, economic reboot for countries will not only depend on how well they readapt to the new normal, but also more on their recovery plans.

 

According to him: “While the federal government has consistently expressed its willingness to set all policies in place to engender growth, and accelerated implementation of these policies, private sector firms have also shown great hunger for the task ahead in post-COVID-19 era.

 

However, the question that needs to be answered is whether all stakeholders are ready for the required task ahead.”

 

The event will also offer participating companies opportunities to publicize some of their individual efforts at contributing to reacting a soft landing or lifeline for SMEs and other ancillary companies as the pandemic threatens their survival.

 

Digital Encode is a multi-award winning and leading consulting and integration firm that specializes in the design, management, and security of business-critical networks, telecommunications environments and other Information Technology (IT) infrastructures.

 


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NCC Threatens Illegal Users of GSM Boosters with Arrest, Prosecution

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Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) has warned telecom consumers to desist from using illegal GSM boosters.

NCC Threatens Illegal Users of GSM Boosters with Arrest, Prosecution

The commission also said that anyone caught using a GSM booster without obtaining approval of a duly licensed network operator will face arrest and prosecution.

GSM boosters are devices that transmit and receive telecommunications signals and can therefore interfere with other radio frequency equipment.

Ikechukwu Adinde, director, public affairs, NCC, said in a notice published on NCC website, that only licensed network operators are allowed to use GSM boosters.

The booster, also known as amplifier or repeater is made up of three main elements – exterior antenna, amplifier, and interior antenna.

They form a wireless system to boost cellular reception

“Members of the public should note that, willful interference with any wireless telegraphy is an offence under Section 16 of the Telegraphy Act, 2004,”it said

The agency said it will not condone any flagrant breach of this law.

It has also enforced measures to prosecute offenders.

Accordingly, monitoring mechanisms have been put in place and anyone caught using a GSM booster without obtaining approval of a duly licensed network operator will face arrest and prosecution.

“Any member of the public with useful information regarding the illegal use of GSM Boosters should contact the Commission on 09-4617000/7351 or send an email to [email protected],” the notice said.

“Individuals desirous of using GSM Boosters should note that they can only do so in conjunction with licensed network operators,” it added.

 

 


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Tizeti Selects Nokia to Provide LTE Fixed Wireless Access Solution for High-Speed internet Services in Nigeria

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Tizeti announced that it selected Nokia’s Fastmile Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology to enable usprovide superior internet services to over 1 Million subscribers in Port Harcourt, Edo and Ogun in Nigeria.

Tizeti Selects Nokia to Provide LTE Fixed Wireless Access Solution for High-Speed internet Services in Nigeria

Tizeti will deploy Nokia’s AirScale Base Station TDD-LTE and FastmileFixed Wireless Access (FWA) gatewaysto deliver premium internet and Virtual Private Network (VPN) services to Residential, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

The solution will also enable Tizeti’sto deliver a more robust, high-speedinternet service to subscribers and the flexibility to seamlessly evolve to 5G Fixed Wireless Access when needed.

Nokia’s FWA solution enables Tizeti to fast-track broadband access and provide a best-in-class broadband experience to its subscribers.

Nokia’sAirScale Base Stations ensure high-quality connectivity and coverage and enablesTizeti to evolve the network in line with customer demand.

Nokia’sFastmilegateways connect wirelessly to the existing network to createa fastbroadband connection and enhanced Wi-Fi experience in the home.

The Nokia Network Services Platform will help Tizeti to simplify operations and quickly respond to changing market demands.

Kendall Ananyi, Tizeti, said:“We are committed to providing the best-in-class network experience to our subscribers. We are confident that Nokia’s proven technology and expertise will help us differentiate our services based on quality. This a crucial project for us as it introduces LTE in our networks and allows us to bring new and innovative services to our subscribers.”

Eniola Balogun, Nokia, said:“We are thrilled to work with Tizeti on the initiative to upgrade their network to bring the latest products and services to its subscribers. Nokia Fastmile will help Tizeti to cost-effectively enhance the customer experience.

The project will also enable them to delight their subscribers by providing more reliable data services.

On the other hand, Tizeti will benefit by adding new revenue streams.”

 

 


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