While 83% of operating systems used inÂ Nigerian market are said to have been pirated, it may not be business as usual again for software pirates operating in various Nigerian IT markets, especially at the Computer Village Ikeja with the recent launch of Clean Dealers Program, (CDP) by the software giant, Microsoft.
TheÂ Clean Dealer Program, (CDP) is an initiative by the software giant toÂ increase customers access to genuine software solutions in the Nigerian IT market, especially in the Computer Village Ikeja where pirated products areÂ sold along various streets of the market like bags of pure water.Â To further curb the trend of software piracy in the largestÂ African ICT market, the Computer Village Ikeja, the company has establishedÂ a Microsoft Information Centre.
In this interview with Emeka Aginam,Â Â Mrs. Uzo Okpaka, the Channel Compliance Manager for Microsoft anti-piracy unit, Nigeria spoke on a number of industry issues, saying with optimism that Microsoft Cleans Dealers Program, (CDP) will guarantee genuine Microsoft software. Excerpts:
Microsoft recently opened an Information Centre in the computer village, how has it been?
We worked on the feedback from our customers and partners on where to get genuine Microsoft products in the computer village; and came up with the idea of the Information Centre.Â Secondly, we wanted to make it easier for more resellers to become Microsoft partners, providing resources at the Information Centre that will enable them do that. They can actually do their registration there to become a Microsoft partner and empower themselves through our online Partner Learning Centre.
For customers who have challenges activating their Microsoft software, they can also come to the Information Centre to get help.
Thereâ€™s a programme you are running; what is it about?
It is a programme designed to promote resellers mostly situated in Computer Village who have committed to sell Genuine Microsoft Software; main focus is the Operating System. These resellers have an agreement with Microsoft to be transparent and to deal only on genuine products.Â Currently we have over 20 registered clean dealers. There are other partners who may not be on this programme but are Certified or Gold Certified Partners.
These partners have acquired skills to enable them deliver Microsoft Solutions to customers, and can also be termed to be Clean Dealers. We have an ongoing mechanism in place to constantly check that those signed on the programme are staying within the programme framework. On our part we are creating awareness around these partners, so customers who visit the Computer Village for their IT needs can go to them for Genuine Microsoft Software.
How successful has the fight against piracy been?
We are seeing positive results in the drive so far, and we are expanding what we do through educating our partners or resellers. One of the key pillars in driving down piracy is education and awareness. Over the past six months,Â we have trained over a thousand partners on the value of genuine software, and also the importance of buying from an the authorized channel; so they are not victims of piracy or counterfeit products. We work closely with the local enforcement agency â€“ the Nigeria Copyright Commissions to clamp down on resellers doing illegal business. Governmentâ€™s support on Intellectual Property Rights protection will also go a long way in reducing the incident of piracy.
What is your relationship like with the law enforcement agencies and regulatory authorities in the fight against piracy?
We give them support in their investigations towards tracking down abusers of Intellectual Property. When we have a complaint from a customer who has been a victim of piracy, we send that complaint to them.
They carry out investigation and come back with product which acts as an evidence, when all due diligence has been done by us to authenticate product, feedback is passed back to NCC. Based on the feedback they carry out the necessary actions. So we support them with all the evidences and information because they have the mandate to protect Intellectual Property.
Have you carried out any raids in computer village?
Raids have been carried out on several occasions by the Nigerian Copyright Commission. Right now , we have a high infiltration of high quality counterfeits in the market.Â The Nigerian Copyright Commission is looking into this challenge. We advise all resellers dealing on Microsoft products to buy from our authorized distributors so they are not cheated by the counterfeiters and put their businesses at risk. We also advise customers who have bought such products to come forward with information so we can protect them more from being victims.
People are patronizing fake products because of high price, what are you doing to reduce price?
In December 2009, Microsoft introduced an African edition of Office Home and Student 2007. This version of Office contains Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. The African edition was introduced to combat this issue of customers purchasing pirated products because of the impression that the original version is expensive.
This edition was specifically designed with the African audience in mind, combining the all the functionality of the office package with a Bonus training DVD and sold to the Market at a 50% discount. We believe the Office package is the ideal product for the average PC user in Nigeria.