Africa’s largest economy has recorded some significant progress in implementing the Nigerian Oil & Gas Industry Content (NOGIC) act which centres on promoting the use of local content, including human resources and raw materials, in the oil sector. Eager to extend this success story to other sectors, the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) has said that the Software sub-sector of the country’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector can be further developed if the industry embarks on the same trajectory.

This was recently revealed at the 2015 President’s Dinner of the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON) whose experts continue to flag the lack of proper policies and action plans as an impediment to the growth of the industry currently valued at about $12 billion.

Dr. Ernest Nwapa, Executive Secretary of the NCDMB, while delivering the keynote address themed ‘Software and Local Content in the Nigerian Oil and Gas Ecosystem’ posited that political will was the principal critical success factor in driving local content growth.

“In doing these, we have been able to create robust local supply chains. Implementing local content in any sector of the economy requires a strong political will to enforce, which contributed to the success my agency has recorded so far,” he said.

Making reference to the policy which forbids Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) in the oil sector from supplying anything to any oil company in Nigeria without some evidence of manufacturing something in the country, he said; “This is an innovative way of improving processes. In communications technology sector you can insist that certain percentage of software in use must be local.”

The NCDMB Executive Secretary believes the local content policy is a game changer, albeit one that will be resisted locally and globally. The drive must therefore be sponsored from the federal government and tied to national agenda, and its implementation must be structured and sustained.

Dr. Omobola Johnson, Nigerian Minister of Communications Technology, revealed, in her address, that poor local content growth had increased capital flight, and trillions of Naira leave the country every year due to licensed software use in Nigeria.

Corroborating the claims of the NCDMB Executive Secretary, Johnson agreed that some urgent intervention was necessary, adding that knowledge and skills development were critical to the industry.

She, therefore, expressed the readiness of her ministry and ISPON to work with the NCDMB on local content growth in the technology sector, emphasizing that ICT can potentially contribute more than the current 9.5 percent to national GDP if properly positioned.

By Emmanuel Iruobe

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