Nigeria’s Federal Government has approved a N2.6 billion licensing agreement with US software maker, Microsoft Corporation, in a landmark step to curb software piracy in the Nigerian public sector. The approval followed a series of inter-ministerial negotiations with Microsoft for a far-reaching agreement to secure concessions from the software maker by a team drawn from the Presidency, Ministry of Science and Technology, National Information Technology Development Agency, Nigerian Copyrights Commission, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Finance, National Universities Commission, among others.

When asked to react to the development, General Manager, Microsoft Nigeria, Gerald Ilukwe said in a telephone interview Sunday that the software company was yet to be formally notified by government: "We are yet to be formally told but I will be happy to hear it if it is true. Then, that means the next challenge will be for us to be focused on the work to be done."

Aso Rock sources confirmed that government will pay a total of N2.59 billion over the next three years covered under the agreement at an annual rate of about N863.6 million on all software applications running on computers in government ministries and parastatals. Microsoft is expected to be invited in due course to give its endorsement to the agreement, a source close to the negotiations said.

Business Day