The President, Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISON), Olorogun James Emadoye has advised the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on the software sector. He also wants the government to establish a N100billion litmus package as bailout for what he called ‘Strategic National Software Development Ecosystem.’
Emadoye who spoke during this year’s President’s Dinner with: Software as a tool for national transformation as theme, in Lagos, said Nigeria is ripe for a strategic legislation on software if the country must change the tide that has turned it into a digital colony of the 21st century.
He said: “You may have heard that the 2016 budget had well over N15billion provision for ‘Computer Software Acquisitions’. ISPON was excited 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 the country on the path of self-sufficiency in software. “If 70 per cent of the over N15billion had been spent for software in 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.”
He said Nigerians are smart people and should be able to serve their needs in software, earn foreign exchange from software sales and conserve unnecessary wasteful spending of the scarce foreign exchange currently earned from oil. He added that the overall goal is increasing earnings and contributing at least, nine per cent to the gross domestic product (GDP) from locally produced software products and services.
“We therefore call on the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to support, sustain and accelerate intervention in this sector by passing special legislation to ensure that all MDA use locally produce software for all their computerisations efforts; ensuring that NOTAP (National Office for Technology Acquisition & Promotion) work and collaborate with NITDA (National Information Technology Development Agency) and ISPON before approving software payment from our scarce dollar resources; ensuring that CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria) collaborate with NITDA and ISPON before allowing transfer for all software purchases,” he said.
Others are ensuring that 30 per cent of all software payment for foreign products approved for payment through the collaboration of NITDA, ISPON, CBN and NOTAP is retained in Nigeria for the development of local capacity in Nigeria; .mandating the Bank of Industry (BoI) to expedite actions to establish the N5billion Software Development Fund of which ISPON has already submitted position paper and start disbursing to deserving companies and software producers immediately for the development of the sector; and mandating all the telcos, through Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to make available to software producers codes, Application Programming Interface (API) and other programmes for building software for the telcoms industry.
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