Overdependence on Foreign Software Threatens Vision 20-2020 for Nigeria
While nations of the world, especially India are retooling their software products for global competitiveness, there has been growing concern in the Nigerian IT industry regarding the country's over dependency in foreign software drive her economy, a development which experts say, may derail vision 2020 imperative.
Nigeria continues to remain one of the highest importer of software products in Sub-Saharan African continent, making it a dumping ground for all manners of software products originating from India, China, Brazil among others. For many observers, Nigeria could earn billions of dollars in foreign exchange annually from the software industry if priority attention is paid to local software makers whose products can compete favourably in the international.
Although past government has mandated its establishments to patronize local software applications to drive its day to day operations, recent finding by Vanguard CyberLIFE has revealed that financial sector in Nigeria is the biggest consumer of foreign software, consuming nearly 100% of foreign software to drive its operations.
The ugly trend which has continued to worry both the government and the IT experts in the Nigerian economy, keen observers say, may make Nigeria a software consuming nation instead of software producing nation in the 21st century knowledge economy.
By all indications according to industry watchers, software technology can become a very feasible alternative to the national oil revenue generation, as the key benefit of a vibrant software industry is in producing more knowledgeable and better-skilled human capital for Nigeria said to be lagging behind in software development.
Worried by this development, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Alhasan Baku Zako had in a forum on software Licensing and development in Nigeria held in Lagos raised alarm saying that if nothing is done to reverse the ugly trend, Nigeria will continue to a digital slave to nations of the world especially India whose software products are currently used by Nigeria banks.
"It is sad to note that while countries of the world are occupying key positions as global players in software development, Nigeria is yet to appreciate the huge potentials that exist in the software market and has continued to depend on foreign software.
"If Nigeria is to realize her dream of being among 2020, then Nigeria should realize that it cannot continue to remain insulated from 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.
"Such realization should be a critical concern not only to policy makers but stakeholders as well and they should focus all their energy and resources towards the attainment of that goal" the Minister said.