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ISPON shops for N500m to retool indigenous software for global competitiveness

By Emeka Aginam

To engage the monumental challenge of recovering from the national disaster of abandoning software development for so long,  the  Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON) is shopping for  about  N500m .

The President of ISPON, Chris Uwaje, who disclosed this  on Monday during a courtesy visit by the officials ISPON  to Vanguard Media Limited Corporate office  while lamenting on the over dependent of Nigerian economy on  foreign software application told the editorial members of Vanguard Newspapers that  there was need to retool local software applications   for global competitiveness, adding that anything short of that will make Nigeria to still remain in digital colony.

The fund if  raised, according to Uwaje who pioneered the Nigerian IT policy years back would be for the establishment of sustainable framework, structures, policies and strategies for the enthronement of a robust software industry for the nation.

According to Uwaje who  raised alarm over what he called absence of  legislation online transaction,   said that this is in furtherance of ISPON’s national advocacy to foster and promote the Software profession and industry as perhaps the most critical initiative,  and indeed the Nigerians r last hope for sustainable national development and global competitiveness.

From right : Mr Chris Uwaje President Institute of Software Practitionals of Nigeria, Mr Chinenye Mba-Uzoukwu and Mr Gbenga Adefaye GM/Editor-in-Chief Vanguard Newspaper during a Courtesy visit by Executives of the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria to Vanguard Newspaper, Apapa Lagos.  Photo: Nwankpa Chijioke
From right : Mr Chris Uwaje President Institute of Software Practitionals of Nigeria, Mr Chinenye Mba-Uzoukwu and Mr Gbenga Adefaye GM/Editor-in-Chief Vanguard Newspaper during a Courtesy visit by Executives of the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria to Vanguard Newspaper, Apapa Lagos. Photo: Nwankpa Chijioke

“Nigerians are doing businesses online without legislation.. We are playing without a legislative framework. We cannot continue like. We need to package our local  software for global  market. That is the only way the country can have alternative to oil regarding foreign earning” he said.

Recognizing the development of a national software industry as a monumental challenge, he said that  ISPON has evolved an annual “ISPON President’s Dinner” as a veritable platform to address critical national software issues and initiatives.

Meanwhile,  a source has revealed that the President’s Dinner event is exclusive for ISPON CEOs and special guests and packaged as special invitation only, is scheduled to take place in the new wing of the Federal Palace Hotel on Monday 14th December 2009.

However, to retool the local software products for the challenges ahead, Uwaje who was the former President of Information Technology Association of Nigeria, (ITAN) informed that ISPON has solicited and won the support of core IT Champions and Stakeholder in the Nigerian IT industry including  Engr. E. Ndukwe of NCC, Sam Amuka,  Publisher Vanguard, Jim Ovia a passionate IT promoted and Founder of Visafone Networks, Sen. Slyvester Anyanwun, Prof. C. Angaye DG NITDA, Prof. Charles Uwadia, President, Nigeria Computer Society, President of CPN, Dr. Emmanuel Ekunwem,  ATCON President, the Diaspora and a host of others  to commence with the plans and program to raise N500million for the establishment of sustainable framework, structures, policies and strategies for the enthronement of a robust Software Industry for the nation.

For one thing, he said that ISPON believes that the Software Industry can become an alternative to Oil – with respect to revenue generation and wealth creation.

“ However, we are concerned about the current alarming rate of national techno phobia and in particular, the visible ignorance about the critical and significance role of Software in 21st Century National global development.

“By all indications, Software Technology can become a very feasible alternative to our national Oil revenue generation _ currently put at about $12billion a year.

“The key benefit of a vibrant Software Industry is in producing more knowledgeable and better_skilled human capital for nation building. Indeed, the data for the fiscal year ended March 31 2008 includes revenue from both domestic and export markets of India, vividly demonstrates that  Software in maybe our last hope and bridge to development.

“ India’s Revenue from exports grew 29 percent to $40.4 billion during this period, while revenue from the domestic market grew by 26 percent to $11.6 billion.

“According to India’s National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom), this brings the total Software revenue generation to US$52 billion in 2008. This is more than 400% of what Nigeria generates from Oil.

“Today, the development, application and use of Software has boosted productivity, created new jobs, enabled more efficient businesses, produced higher quality of goods and services, and led to greater global innovation, standards and best practices.

“The emergence of the Software revolution has enhanced the quality of life from improving health care, agriculture, communication, education, Art and Culture, to promoting greater transparency, to making it easier for government, business and humanity to interact with one another and above all, to promoting world peace.

“Software has therefore become – and will remain for a long time _ one of the fastest growing industries with the power to enrich and sustain national economies.  Global projection and current assessment reveals that IT spending will exceed four trillion US dollars in 2009

While calling for the government to support local software makers, he said that ISPON would continue  to assert today  that software technology and the internet, with characteristically low physical entry barriers and high local value_added, offer newly industrialising countries a chance to quantum leapfrog. Unfortunately, the industry has been unsuccessful in attracting the attention of policy makers/government and the financial services sector largely because of the ease with which the players in those sector could return in some cases 400% value on investment through financial engineering and trading in government funds.

By all indications, Software Technology, he noted  can become a very feasible alternative to our national Oil revenue generation _ currently put at about $12billion a year.

The key benefit of a vibrant Software Industry, according to the Oracle  is in producing more knowledgeable and better_skilled human capital for nation building.

To face the challenges ahead, he said that ISPON has therefore originated plans to enthrone the establishment of a National Policy and strategies for Software Development.

Setting a national software development policy and awareness agenda, he said  is against the backdrop that building software capacities presents immense economic opportunities for nation building. Suffice to state that Nigeria can earn more than $10billion in foreign exchange annually from the software industry.

Based on ISPON’s professional assessment, the critical pathways to achieving greatness in software engineering development include but not limited to the following strategies:

* The establishment of a national software policy and strategies – incorporating an exclusive, distinct and special Institutional Framework to harness and develop the software knowledge potentials of the nation. *  Due to its very special characteristics and colossal challenges embedded within the process of “Software Conceptualisation – Design – Development – Production – Packaging – Marketing – Implementation  Technical_Support _ Maintenance and Research and Development cycle, its institutional framework should be an exclusive and independent machinery to yield maximum result.

*  This exclusive and independent existence and operational characteristic is omnipresent in the all the structure of Software based institutional policy decisions of Nations and private corporate entities which, have succeeded in developing economically viable Software culture.  A case in point is India, Ireland, China, Malaysia and new entrants such as Chile, Ghana.

* There is therefore the national need to establish an exclusive “National Software Commission” to engage, drive and deliver world_class solutions to the software vision and aspiration of Nigeria.  Examples of this foresight models and focused development strategy abound:

*India’s Software mission is currently exclusively driven by its “Ministry of Electronics and Software Engineering”

* Malaysia has established a Ministry of Information Technology and its national Software agenda is executed through a “National Software Board” and have gone along to establish a National Multi_media University as a fundamental economic strategy for her 21st Century Development Agenda.

* National Software Development Parks and Corridors have become sustainable models for national development for many countries – such as Ireland, Chile, USA, UK, among others.


Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.