Nigeria: Local OEMS Worry Over Dominance of Foreign PCs

Computing

By the time the just concluded Nigerian Information Technology Exhibition, (NITEX) was drawing to a close last week in Lagos, there were worries among local computer assemblers following growing dominance by foreign PCs brands in the market.

Currently, there is heightening tendency to reject the locally made PCs in favour of the foreign brand as HP and the rest of the offshore brands have remained the toast of many Nigerians.

In the last decade, for instance, more than seven PC makers, including UNITEC, Pragmatic, Balogtek, Brian Systems, Zinox and Omatek and the more recently Geniac and Veda have arrived on the scene but only Zinox, Omatek, Beta and Brian Computers survived the competitive market.

Meanwhile, a 2006 government circular signed by the former Secretary of the Federation, Chief Ufot Ekaette had directed all federal agencies and ministries at the federal and state levels to with immediate effect patronise made in Nigeria software and locally assembled computers as a priority choice of applications for all their functions.

But up till now, the ministries, according to Vanguard Hi-Tech findings are said to have flouted this directive and instead embraced foreign PCs brands software developers and foreign made computer products and services to the detriment of their local counterparts.

Just last week at the NITEX exhibition that brought together exhibitors drawn from domain areas of hardware manufacturing, assembling and vendoring, software development and marketing, among others, local PCs manufacturers at the exhibition hall including Beta Computers, Zinox and Omatk noted without mincing words that except the present government penalizes ministries, departments and agencies for shunning made-in-Nigeria PCs, the country will remain consumers of foreign brands, a situation that will make the largest African country lose billions of naira in terms of capital flight.

For many observers, the local PCs makers have good products to offer. But the onus, according to them is to improve their total market relevance before they could up sales and profit.

The President of NCS, Professor Uwadia had told the IT industry in his message during the event that the local software and hardware vendors need to be given more attention by government and the private sector to survive the competitive market.

The local vendors have good products and services that can compete in the international market with heir foreign counterparts, he said.

"But there is need for the federal government of Nigeria to make strong policies that will help local OEMs grow. The local PCs manufacturers have been suffering as a result of poor patronage from both private and public sectors of the Nigeria economy.

"Something has to be done. We cannot continue like this. Government should save the local industries otherwise Nigeria will not face the knowledge society" Biyi Farere, who work in Beta Computers told Vanguard Hi-Tech at the close of NITEX 2011.

Mindful of the need to promote local PC assembly, the Chief Olusegun Obasanjo administration issued a directive that all MDAs (ministries, departments and agencies) must patronized local PC makers and consider foreign brands only if the local brands could not meet up with the requirements. But today, reverse is the case" he explained.

Speaking further on poor patronage of made in Nigeria PCs, a representative of Omatek Computers at the NITEX exhibition hall who pleaded anonymity told Vanguard Hi-Tech that market for local OEMs is still shrinking.

According to him, the government must enforce compliance to the patronage of local brands otherwise the local market will continue to suffer in favor of foreign brands.