By Justus Adejumoh
The Minister of Communications, Barr. Abdul-Raheem Adebayo Shittu has re-emphasized that government is ready to re-validate its directive on the patronage of locally produced ICT products and services by the Ministries, Departments and Parastatal (MDAs) as a means of promoting local content in the sector.
He said there will be no excuse for MDAs not to patronize indigenous ICT products and services because local content is vital in achieving the overriding mandate of economic diversification and empowerment of the ICT ecosystem in the country.
According to a press release signed by his Special Assistant (Media),Victor Oluwadamilare, The Minister said this while declaring open a plenary at the Afritex ICT Export Industrial Forum and Expo 2016, held on Wednesday at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.
Local content, he said, is defined as the amount of incremental value added or created in Nigeria through the utilisation of Nigerian human and material resources for the provision of goods and services in the ICT industry within acceptable quality and standards in order to stimulate the development of indigenous capabilities.
The minister asserted that the patronage is aimed to achieve the development of local skills, technology transfer, use of local manpower and manufacturing and that it will have a triple effect to increase demand, thereby creating jobs and contribute to the job and wealth creation component of the government’s Change mantra.
Barr. Shittu disclosed that Nigeria is ceding about 70 per cent of the country’s technology market to the foreign brands due to apathy for locally made products thereby losing about $2.8billion yearly to the continued importation of ICT hardware and services as capital flights from the country.
This, he stated, spurred the government to put in place policies and implementation that will bring recognition to indigenous creativity and protect Intellectual Property emphasizing that the Local Content Policy and guideline would be enforced to the letter.
“The Local Content Development Policy would be implemented to protect indigenous players in the industry and the ministry would galvanise right policies that would see to the need of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs), let me emphasize here very strongly that government’s role is to provide an enabling environment within a free market economy.
“The Federal Government has expressed its readiness to boost local content in the Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector in order to make it compete favourably in the global market”, adding that “the Ministry had in March 2016 held a workshop in collaboration with NITDA on stakeholders’ compliance on the procurement of ICT products and services under the local content guidelines by MDAs.
In addition to this,the minister said, Federal Government moved to replicate the successful implementation of the Nigerian Content policy in the oil and gas industry and other key sectors of the economy with the setting up of the Office for Nigerian Content Development in ICT.
Berating the high consumption rate of imported ICT goods and services into the country, Barr. Shittu said “under my watch, Nigeria will not be a dumping ground for all forms of technologies”.
He commended the resolution of leading computer manufacturing companies in Nigeria to come under an umbrella body called Certified Computer Manufacturers of Nigeria (CCMON) with the aim of working with all relevant stakeholders to grow the capacity of Nigeria computer manufacturers. This, he said, ”will generate increased employment, strengthening the Naira and grow our local economy.”