By Emeka Aginam,Â Asst. Online Editor
The Nigerian banks have spent more than N23 billion on purchase of foreign software between 1995 through 2008 based on available figures from Ministry of Science & Technology.
While cautioning Nigerian banks on the implication in theÂ economy, the Minister ofÂ Science and Technology, Dr Alhasan Baku Zako raised alarm saying that the vision 2020Â may be derailed if the country continues to depend on foreign software for her economic development.
By investing this amount holistically on Nigerians to acquire skills in software development, according to Minister who spoke last week during a national workshop on the â€˜Status of Software Licensing and Development in Nigeria, the country would have been among the software nations of the world.
He told the capacity audience in attendance during the workshop organized by the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology (FMST) through the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) that while countries like India, China, Brazil, South Korea among others depend on their locally produced software for global competitiveness, African countries and Nigeria in particular are yet to appreciate on the huge potentials that exist in the local software market.
â€œIf Nigeria is to realize her dream of being the top 20 highest economy in the world by the year 2020, then Nigeria should realize that it cannot continue to remain insulated from the global requirement to be a software development nation and should take note of these realities and recognize that software development is an important key to national economic development.
â€œSuch realization should be a critical concern not only to policy makers but stakeholders as well and they should focus all their energy and resources towards the attainment of that goal.
â€œIt is on records that the financial sector in Nigeria is the biggest consumer of foreign software where the banking sectors consumes nearly 100 per cent of foreign software to drive its operationsâ€ the Minister said.
He noted with sadness that while countries such as India, China, Brazil, South Korea, Singapore, Chile, among others are occupying positions as global key players in software development, Africa countries and Nigeria in particular are yet to appreciate the huge potentials that exist in the software market and have continued to depend on foreign software to drive their economy.
â€œThe software industry as we all know is one of the biggest revenue generating sector in the world. Companies that are into the business make huge sums of returns from the sales and licensing of software products and provision of other software services accompanying the software.
â€œAvailable records have shown that biggest computer companies in the world such as Microsoft, Oracle, and Sun Microsystems are among the top richest companies in the world and are known to produce some of worldâ€™s richest people such as Bill Gates.
â€œHowever, despite the world mantra chanting for software domination, Nigeria continues to remain of the biggest importer of software products in the sub_Saharan Africa continent and as such has become a dumping ground for software products emanating from software companies mostly in India, UK, Ireland, Middle_East, Brazil, among otherâ€ he said.
As a step towards breaking from the shackles of software importation, Nigeria must restructure the entire educational systems in Nigeria to incorporate computer science subjects in the secondary school level as this will imbibe IT culture in the Nigerian youths at a very early stage, thereby producing pools of computer scientists needed by the sector in the country.
He advised that government should also vigorously pursue the Public Private Partnership (PPP) programme between Nigerian tertiary institutions/research institutes and companies operating in Nigeria so that the process of technology transfer in software development can be enhanced .
The Workshop was organised by the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology (FMST) through the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) in view of the increasing role and relevance of Information and Communcation Technology (ICT), Software Development and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in facilitatiing the Nigerian economy to be Knowledge _ driven.
Specifically, the objectives of the workshop include:
Deliberate on cricitical issues affecting Software Licensing and Development in Nigeria Improve the efficience and effectivenesss of NOTAP in assessing ICT Agreement and facilitating Technology Transfer in ICT Proffer strategies for the involvement of local proffessionals in software development and maintenance for effective technology transfers Evolve a more transparent process of software license valuations Improve the local content of software services in Nigeria as a critical element for the attainment of Vision 20: 2020