By Prince Osuagwu
The federal government last week, armed the National Information Technology Agency of Nigeria ( NITDA) with more teeth to perform its functions as the Agency now has the sole authority to clear all locally made information systems before they are purchased by Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs.
This follows directives from the federal government, that all MDAs should henceforth patronise locally made PCs .
The directive was contained in a circular dated July 17, 2012, titled Guidelines for the purchase of locally assembled Computers and signed by Secretary to the Federal Government, Anyim Pius Anyim.
According to Anyim the objective of the circular was to give effect to the government policy on the procurement of Made-in-Nigeria Information Systems.
The circular further stated that a breach of the guidelines will be viewed as a breach of government’s policy..
The guidelines were said to have been approved at the Federal Executive Council meeting in April 2012. They are expected to assist all MDAs to know appropriate, minimum specifications and standards in procurement of locally assembled information systems.
The circular said that the Government was also aiming to achieve the development of an indigenous ICT industry, wealth and job creation, expansion of the domestic market for Nigeria information technology products and acceleration of IT penetration and adoption in Nigeria.
This is also as the federal government said it desires to use the policy to enhance Universal Access to IT in accordance with Section 6 of the IT Development Act of 2007.
According to the government circular, the product under the guidelines include all Made-in-Nigeria information System components which meet a specified minimum standards. The guidelines do not apply to high-end products such as server, routers, operating systems and data base software.
Under the guidelines, all MDAs are expected to obtain technical advice from NITDA on the configuration of the Information System suitable for the purpose intended 15 days to issuance of tenders by the MDAs.
They will also be expected to incorporate the specifications and configurations advised by NITDA in their bid and tender documents and without naming the brands of the products.
They shall also include in the invitation tender, such statements which indicate that the items for bidding shall be locally manufactured or assembled brands.
Agencies of government empowered to enforce the FG guidelines include, the organs and offices of government which exercise threshold responsibilities in public procurement process, the Bureau of Public Procurement, accounting officers of MDAs, ICT officers of MDAs and institutions legally mandated to undertake oversight functions in the development and deployment of ICT in the country.
The circular also empowered NITDA to monitor compliance. It stated that all local Original Equipment Manufacturers, OEMs, shall be required to submit to periodic assessment and facility visits by NITDA to ensure that the products, processes and standards are maintained.
“Certification of all LOEMs products and processes shall be biennial with effect from 2012, while a consumer reporting interface and dedicated telephone lines already launched shall be maintained for the purpose of receiving report of breach of standard on the one hand and non-observance of the Local Content Policy on the other hand”, the circular stated.
Nitda has already created an Online Public Complaints Platform to track any disregard for the policy and to monitor compliance to minimum standards by product manufacturers.