By Juliet Umeh
Information and Communications Technology, ICT, practitioners, including the local software practitioners, ICT media advocacy groups and other professionals in the industry have condemned what they described as government apathy towards full implementation of local content policy in the ICT sector.
Although the call has become recurrent in recent times, it however, was the major topic of the third quarter forum of the Nigerian ICT Reporters Association, NITRA, in Ikeja, Lagos at the weekend.
In his opening remarks, as the Chairman of the event, Managing Director, e.Stream Networks, Engr. Muyiwa Ogungboye, said that Nigeria may not harness the full benefits of liberalisation of ICT sector unless the government took necessary action towards implementation of local content policy at all levels of the business.
Ogungboye noted that many years ago, Nigeria introduced indigenisation policy to increase the stake of Nigerians as well as solve the problem of unemployment, but that the policy did not last because of lack of tenacious implementation by successive governments.
He believed that: “To reduce the challenge of unemployment of the Nigerian youths, there is an urgent need to reintroduce indigenisation policy in the form of local content policy.”
He also said that “considering the huge benefits of indigenous contents in information and communication technology, ICT, Nigeria could achieve faster economic recovery, if the government rolls back its sleeves and tackles the issue of local content implementation.
Ogungboye’s submissions drew a thunderous applause from various ICT professionals who agreed that implementing the local content policy will rev up the engine of economic recovery.
Also, delivering his welcome address, Chairman of NITRA, Mr Emma Okonji, said the theme of the forum: Local Content Development in Nigeria’s ICT Sector, Stimulant for National Economic Recovery, was carefully selected after exhaustive debate among various ICT professionals.
He said the issue of implementing the local content policy became necessary following the continued frustrations of very wonderful, competent and innovative technology enterpreneurs and start-ups who lack support for their home grown initiatives because the sector is still foreign content crazy while government looks away.
According to him: “NITRA strongly believes that if the right support is given to FinTechs and technology start-ups, they will not only boost local production but will also repatriate huge capital flight that would have gone in purchasing foreign contents.
“We, therefore call on the Federal Government to urgently formulate new policies and ensure full implementation of such policies that will protect local content in Nigeria.”