By Emmanuel Elebeke
As the two day national workshop on the status and software development in Nigeria, stakeholders haveÂ called for improvement of local content in software development in Nigeria, as a critical element for realization of Vision 20:2020.
The workshop which was organized by the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) in collaboration with the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA); United Bank for Africa (UBA); Computer Warehouse Group; First Bank of Nigeria; Multi-Links Telecommunications Limited and Access Bank ended last week and heldÂ at Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Ikeja, Lagos, was designed to address some critical issues relating to Software Licensing and Development in Nigeria as an emerging sub-sector of the national economy, it was also meant toÂ provide a roadmap and platform forÂ stakeholders to assess the challenges and success so far recorded in software development in Nigeria, as a critical element for attainment of Vision 20:2020 as well asÂ promote indigenous software development and participation of Nigerian professionals in the sub-sector.Â The theme of the workshop was: Status of Software Licensing and Development in Nigeria.
However, at the end of the two-day deliberations, the following recommendations were made: that NOTAP should draw up the requirements and sequence for e-registration process of technology transfer as a way to minimize delays in approval process; customization and implementation of software services should be localized; the curricula of Nigerian tertiary institutions offering courses in the ICT sector should be constantly reviewed to respond to the needs of the industry; end-users of softwares should engage the services of specialists/experts and consultants when negotiating software license agreements in order to have a balanced technology transfer agreements; NITDA,Â NOTAP and all stakeholders should be involved in indigenous software development; Software developers should evolve indigenous softwares that meet specific needs of SMEs in Nigeria; End-users/Licensors should restructure their Software LicenseÂ Â Â Â agreements in line with NOTAP format and requirements and NOTAP and NITDA should develop a scheme plan for ICT and Intellectual Property Rights regime in Nigeria among others.
In His Welcome Address, the Minister of Science and Technology, represented by Director for Supervising in the ministry, Alh. Jega expressed delighted for the initiative and described it as apt and aÂ crucial element to the economic development of the country.
If successfully harmonized, the minister said the workshop would encourage new development and growth of indigenous software not only in Nigeria but in the Sub-Saharan African continent as a whole.
His words â€œComputer Science activities and their applications in the software fields have become a house-hold phenomenon considering the role it performs in controlling the very fabric of our every day economic activities.Â Softwares are known to perform crucial functions in driving not only the ICT sector but other sectors such as education, Engineering, Agriculture Finance/Banking and even in our day to day governance.Â It is as a result of the significant and strategic importance of softwares to the economic development of a nation that advanced countries are investing heavily in the sector, so that the superiority which they have over other nations in the global economic playing fields can be maintainedâ€ he noted.
Lamenting the low content development of software in Nigeria,Â the minister saidÂ â€œ It is sad to note that while countries such as India, China, Brazil, South Korea, Singapore, Chile, etc. are occupying positions as global key players in software development, African countries and Nigeria in particular are yet to appreciateÂ the huge potentials that exist in the software market and have continue to depend on foreign Softwares to drive their economy.
The 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 softwares.Â Available records have shown that biggest computer companies in the world such as Microsoft, Oracles, 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€ he stated, pointing out that if Nigeria is to realize her dream of becoming among the top 20 highest economy in the world by the year 2020, it must meet herÂ 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.
In his presentation entitled :Critical Issues Emanating from Software and ICT Agreements, the NOTAP Director General, Engr. Umar Buba took time toÂ analyze theÂ technology transfer agreements in Nigeria, andÂ observed thatÂ software and ICT technology transfer agreements between indigenous licensees, software vendors and foreign licensors were conducted in a haphazard and uncoordinated manner contrary to international best practices, and called for a holistic review of the trend in order to save the local content and to encourage expertise among local professionals.
He acknowledgedÂ technology as the key driver of the modern economy, especially in todayâ€™s knowledge driven economy,Â stressing that with the instrumentality of locally manufactured software, Nigeria would be leapfrogging from its oil driven economy to knowledge driven economy.
He regretted that Nigeria is still importing software, even at a time when other countries in the world were satisfying their local demand for software usage and exporting the excess to other countries, and averred that NOTAP with support of other stakeholders through partnership would address the trend by improving the local content and empowering the indigenous profession.
In his own paper entitled: Strategies to Domesticate Software and Ict in Nigeria, the Director-general, National Information Technology Development Agency (Nitda), Prof. CleopasÂ Angaye, X-rayed the 2008 Global Information Technology report as released by the World Economic Forum which ranked Denmark as the highest in the world andÂ ranked Nigeria seventh in Africa behind the likes of Senegal, Egypt among others.
He insisted thatÂ development remained the key to solving mostÂ challenges in software development everywhere, including Nigeria as exemplified by countries like India, Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa and amongst others that are currently generating high revenue from ICT and software development.