Study report has shown that Nigeria loses a total of N11.2bn (about $80 million) annually to illegal deployment or use of computer software in the country. The report, which covers 97 countries, points to a global piracy average of 35 per cent and leads to at least $34 bn in economic losses worldwide. This comes amid drives by the Federal Government, regulatory bodies and technology companies to raise awareness of the perils of using computer software illegally in the Nigeria.

The report of the study conducted by the IDC, a market research and forecasting firm, formed part of the key message from the Business Software Alliance (BSA), an industry body that represents commercial software developers and their hardware partners, on the release of the results of the global software piracy study.

According to Stephan le Roux, Chairman of BSA, South Africa, "software piracy remains one of the major hurdles to the realisation of the potential of the information economy on the continent and, indeed, around the world."

He expressed his concern over the piracy level in the local economies where about 70 per cent of the software is used illegally. "This concern rises when you look at some countries on the continent, where as few as one in 10 copies of packaged software are legitimately paid for," he continued.

Le Roux listed some of the negative economic consequences of software piracy to include the crippling of local software industries by competition from pirated or counterfeit goods; putting foreign direct investment by international software companies into jeopardy due to low market returns; and the stifling of the growth of the entertainment industry due to a lack of respect for intellectual property rights.

While acknowledging the challenges in eradicating piracy around the world, le Roux advocated a more committed enforcement of the intellectual property rights as a panacea to these consequences.

"Stronger intellectual property protection and education and awareness continue to improve the software piracy situation around the world. However, as broadband growth continues and the IT sector expands, the influx of new users and the increased availability of pirated software means efforts are required to reduce and keep software piracy down," added le Roux.

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