By Emma Elebeke
UNLESS Nigeria adopts the indigenous, home-grown approach by discouraging imports, her ability to manufacture technological products will remain a potential.
High Commissioner of Pakistan to Nigeria, Muhammad Ashraf Saleem stated this when he visited the National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA in Abuja.
Pakistan, he said, has a data management system as good as what obtains in developed economies, adding that Nigeria can develop its information and communications technology and agricultural sectors, if the country has the political will to ban importation of technology and agro products from abroad.
With the aid of right policies and legislation in place, he insisted that Nigeria has all it takes to leapfrog from her present status to an enviable level in the world.
According to him, Nigeria will not be able to manufacture ICT products, until government makes importation less attractive and put in place policies that will make local brands to thrive.
“Pakistan has achieved almost 100 per cent people carrying a very modern card fitted with the SIM on which they carry along with them all their biometry and everything.
“Our passports are machine readable. All our boarders and all the entry and exit points in Pakistan are having connectivity; anybody entering, coming out; his data can be found very conveniently.
“I think Nigeria needs technology for crime control, to know the location of people. Technology can be very beneficial in crime control.
“Identity and security management for security are the prime areas where Pakistan and Nigeria can cooperate right away,’’ said the envoy.
Saleem, who argued that technology is not an exclusive preserve of any country, said that Nigeria should make use of it and develop its economy.
“Pakistan is today, one of the top countries in the area of ICT, because we decided to stop importing technology and this gave us the opportunity to develop on our own.
‘‘We adopted home grown tech approach which suited what we needed. Through this, we have been able to manufacture many ICT products by ourselves.
‘‘I urge you to also adopt this approach and will advise you to stop importing IT from the developed countries because they would never give you what will make you develop your economy. They would always love that you keep on coming back to them to buy more. This is not how you can grow the sector.
“Indigenous approach is always good. We at times, I think Pakistan has been very lucky because we are subjected to many sanctions because of our nuclear programme and those sanctions were blessing to us because we have started producing our own things. That is why we need to cooperate to move forward,’’ said Saleem.
Responding, acting Director General of NITDA, Dr Ashiru Daura, said the partnership is coming at the right time, especially, when the agency has been promoting local content in order to strengthen the ICT sector.
He expressed optimism that the proposed ICT partnership with Pakistan would surely serve a mutual benefit and specifically impart positively on the Nigerian economy.
In his remarks, the President, Nigeria Computer Society, Professor David Adewumi said the importance of the partnership to the economy cannot be overemphasised and commended NITDA leadership for the way and manner it had pioneered IT penetration and development in the country.
He said that NCS is ready to further NITDA on how to accelerate the pace of IT development in the country, saying that the worthy goal of NITDA are in line with the core objectives of the Society.
He however, urged NITDA to seek for stronger partnership that would build an inclusive and globally competitive and prosperous Nigeria, that will be the envy of other African nations.