By Emmanuel Elebeke
The National Information and Technology Development Agency, NITDA, says it is poised to reposition the agency from its administrative outlook to an IT-driven and knowledge-based one with more emphasis on local content development.
Director general of the agency, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim, who made the disclosure at a public function, said the NITDA under his watch had commenced the process of rewriting a better story for Nigeria via local content promotion and development.
To do this, he said a deep look is currently being taken towards solving the lingering issue of local content in the ICT sector.
According to Ibrahim, Nigeria loses about $2.8 billion annually from the importation of ICT goods and services, including a whooping $1 billion spent annually on software imports. He noted that a situation where locally assembled ICT devices represent less than eight per cent of all the devices used in the country is unacceptable, if Nigeria indeed must grow its local content.
Speaking further, the NITDA chief also regretted that Nigeria is projected to expend about $143.8 billion on ICT by 2019, which translates to over seven times the value of the 2016 national budget. For the DG, this ought not be so, especially for a country that boasts of a large percentage of youth that have a high level of interest in ICTs.
He pointed out that NITDA was already aligning its policy decisions with the Federal government’s drive to diversify the economy of the country. For him, the diversification plan of government had become imperative in the face of dwindling revenue from the oil sector.
He said, “ICT provides veritable option for diversifying the economy because it has the added advantage of being able to improve efficiency and enhance productivity in all the other sectors of the economy.” To make the plan possible, he said NITDA will make local content to be made the fulcrum for Nigeria’s survival.
Consequently, Ibrahim said NITDA is creating an environment that supports high level ICT-based capacity building for growing interests all over the nation, saying that this will create the critical mass required to drive the Local Content programme of the Federal government driven by NITDA.
“We will collaborate with industry leaders and put policies in place to support young Nigerians to develop world-class ICT products. This was actually, the plan that informed our decision to invite several start-ups to e-Nigeria and sponsored 16 to GITEX in October 2016. We also need to strongly plead with our international manufacturers to domesticate their products in order to achieve a win-win relationship.
“Within the limits of the mandate that set us up, we at NITDA are repositioning ourselves to filter the IT gadgets being imported to the country in the overall interest of the nation. It is a clarion call to all citizenry to transform NITDA into IT-driven and knowledge0based agency,” he said.
Also, by reviewing the existing standards and guidelines, he said NITDA will be able to regulate the sector in line with the highest global standards, adding that the agency is committed to ensuring that proliferation of fake and sub-standard ICT devices and services is stopped.
He posited that the gains that will come out from utilizing the Local Content policy that encourages the development of Local ICT products and services were tremendous, among which is elimination of capital flight.