No modern economy can exist without fundamental Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure because this is the tool for national and economic development. A key component of ICT is software- a collection of data or computer instructions that tells the computer how to work. As a matter of fact, over the years, software has become an essential input for the operations of virtually all businesses, across all industries and sectors.
Regrettably, most of the softwares in use in the country are imported, leaving the local developers to wallow in neglect and poverty. Experts believe that Nigeria spends over $400 million annually on foreign software licenses’ renewal without recourse to indigenous softwares that could perform the same tasks.
To avoid such huge amount, which they described as waste to the economy, National Software Think Tank (NSOFT) has urged the federal government to endorse and approve the proposed 5-Year National Software Strategic Plan to accelerate the adoption and patronage of Nigerian developed application software and maximize the opportunities and benefits presented by the digital promise.
Chris Uwaje, chairman, NSOFT, called for the establishment of a special national software strategy as a critical framework for improving understanding of the challenges and national security risks observed in the software development ecosystem and implications for Nigeria. “Recognizing the enormity of challenges faced by the Nigerian software ecosystem as critical national infrastructure for the economy and security, there is urgent need for legal protection of the Software Industry”. He said.
But the onus lies on the government. Government must be the unseen hand that weaves the magic wand. This is because conventional wisdom supported by imperial economic studies dictates that market forces alone are incapable of accelerating the development of ICT and indeed the economy. National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) agreed and explained that the introduction of local vendor policy in the licensing of foreign software in Nigeria will continue to block financial leakages in the country’s software industry, while saving huge sums of money for the federal government and the local information technology (IT) vendors.
Dr. Dan-Azumi Mohammed Ibrahim, Director General of NOTAP, who gave the explanation during his welcome reception organised by the National Software Think Tank (NSOFT) in Lagos recently, said there had been stiff opposition to the implementation of the policy. “We have passion to support the development of home-grown technology. Nigeria was hitherto losing huge amount of money to foreign countries through licensing fees of foreign software, but we have to change the narrative through the local vendor policy” Ibrahim, said.