The Chairman of the Nigerian Software Develop-ment Initiative (NSDI) and Chief Executive of Zenith Bank, Mr. Jim Ovia, yesterday estimated the size of Nigeria's software industry to be over N15 billion. Ovia, at the presentation of the NSDI report to President Olusegun Obasanjo at the council chambers of the State House, noted that "the size of Nigeria's software industry is currently estimated at over N15.0 billion. In 2004, the estimated import value of software products was USD900 million.

"Given the estimated global market of over USD260.0 billion, it is our belief that a modern, globally competitive software industry in Nigeria would not only dominate the local and West African markets, but will also capture a commensurate share of this global market within the next few years. The importance of this market share is exemplified by the fact that 0.05 per cent translates to USD1.3 billion."

Ovia, who stated that the study of the initiative "shows that the industry (Software) has the potential for being the single largest contributor to GDP within the next five years, if well harnessed," asked the President to enact other laws which would help create the legal, regulatory and institutional framework for the industry and also direct all government offices and its agencies to patronise local software products and services.

Responding, President Obasanjo, who formally launched the NSDI and brand name Software Nigeria set up a committee made up of five ministers that would provide a conducive environment at the government level. Obasanjo asked the committee which includes the Ministers of Science and Technology (Chairman), Education, Finance (State), Industry and the Federal Capital Territory, to hold its first meeting next week and also meet regularly and submit quarterly reports.

He also promised to look into the possibility of giving one half of a wing of the Federal Secretariat, Ikoyi, Lagos to the NSDI for the establishment of the Pioneer Software Park with modern facilities on a lease of about 10 years. While declaring the support of the Federal Government for the NSDI, the President declared that "we need to do more at this stage in order to move forward and no stone should be left unturned."