By Emeka Aginam
While the software giant, Microsoft callsÂ for additional government and industry support to combat software piracy in Nigeria which remains among the highest in the world,Â the seventh annual global software piracy study released last week by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), an international association representing the global software industry, in conjunction with theÂ market research firm IDC, revealed thatÂ software piracy rate in Nigeria is 83%.
According to the study,Â the Nigerian economy lost US$156 million to software piracy in 2009, a $24 million increase compared to 2008. Since the study was first published in 2005, IDC estimates that the commercial value of software stolen over the past four years is approximately $584 million.
Although the use of unlicensed PC software dropped in nearly half of the 111 economies studied in 2009, the steady piracy rate in Nigeria, according the latest statistics remains among the highest in the world, ranking 19 on the global list.
Even as the ugly trend continues to cause more economic harm than good, the Intellectual Property Manager atÂ Microsoft Nigeria, Serge Ntamack said that:
â€œWhile we see some signs that the technology industryâ€™s intensified anti-piracy education activities and enforcement actions in collaboration with local governments and law enforcement agencies are making a difference, we have watched software piracy rates for the industry as a whole in Nigeria remain consistent over the past five yearsâ€
â€œWe know Nigeria has more to offer than pirated software,â€Ntamack noted, adding that , â€œWe need to do more to protect the honest local businesses forced to cut jobs because they are competing with pirated software priced at below-market levels. Furthermore, we need to preserve the hard work and intellectual property local software developers put in to technology.
â€œAs part of Microsoftâ€™s anti-piracy efforts, we will continue to work with industry partners, the Nigerian government and law enforcement agencies such as the Nigeria Copyright Commission (NCC) and the Economic and Financial Commission (EFCC) to root out software pirates and fight for consumer protection on a global scale,â€ Ntamack asdded
Also speaking, Dale Waterman, BSA Co-Chair, Middle East and Africa added that: â€œDue to the exponential growth of PC markets in emerging economies like Nigeria, we are seeing the worldwide piracy rate rise from 41% in 2008 to 43% in 2009.
â€œThis rise of unlicensed software in Nigeria limits local technology innovation, job creation and economic growth. Furthermore, piracy robs governments of vital tax revenues.â€
In addition to the impact on Nigeriaâ€™s local economy, piracy has harmful consequences for the consumer. Counterfeit software is often vulnerable to computer viruses, malware and hackers, leaving consumers and businesses unprotected against data loss or identity theft.
With the increasing sophistication of software pirates and cyber criminals, Microsoft warns Nigerian consumers to avoid the threats to their privacy and security when considering buying cheap counterfeit technology.