The Young Innovators of Nigeria (YIN) a Pressure Group has appealed to the Federal Government to support developers of locally made software to boost the country’s economy digitally.
Mr Andrew Abu, YIN Chief Executive Officer, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Saturday.
Abu said that government patronage for foreign software developers was enhancing foreign economies, resulting in capital flight.
He said that adhering to government’s COVID-19 protocols, meant that businesses had to rely on virtual platforms for their engagements.
Abu said that many business outlets including government, developed online meeting platforms, while others resorted to the use of Zoom, Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting, Skype and Google Hangouts for their meetings.
According to him, Nigerian software developers have the capacity to produce the replica of such foreign products, but the political will to patronise them is lacking.
“Software companies can produce these facilities, but the challenge is in the acceptability by the government; government does not want to accept locally developed software, because it is looking at the infrastructure cost.
“To host virtual meet ups, you need serious data, broadband infrastructure, power supply and all these are still deficient.
“We also need to find a way of subsidising the cost of hosting these IT infrastructure, because the data centres in Nigeria are facing challenges even when local software are produced.
“There is no political will to support and deploy this solution; we can develop it,’’ Abu said.
He commended steps taken by Dr Isa Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, in encouraging locally made ICT products and repositioning the sector for better opportunities.
Abu, however, added that other government agencies needed to imbibe the culture of buying Made-in-Nigeria software solutions.
He said that YIN had developed a software for the Nigerian Army to sustain its capacity building, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Some of us have local software, but getting the market is the challenge. So far, it is only the Nigerian Army that we have been able to market to.
“During the peak of COVID-19 lockdown, there was the challenge of continuous training of officers virtually on a local meeting platform to avoid data export.
“That was when we developed a software for the army and we’ve had several meetings using the software and it has also been commissioned by the Department of ICT Services.
“We believe these technologies can be local; we have the capacity to develop scalable solutions, but we need patronage,’’ he said.
On the development of the ICT sector and the diamond jubilee anniversary of the country, Abu said Nigeria was beginning to harness the benefits of technology.
“We are gradually turning the ICT sector into a skilled set instead of mere paper certificate-based organisation.
“We need to develop more talents, expose more young Nigerians to technology at a very good young age and provide the necessary tools and capacity,’’ he said.
He identified that the onus of turning out competent ICT graduates with skills required in the industry depended on tertiary institutions.
Abu emphasised that no organisation would hire a computer science graduate lacking the necessary ICT skills to run a computer-based business.
“Looking at Nigeria at 60, if there is cooperation to train youths on ICT skills, we will develop better and reduce the high unemployment level in the technology sub-sector,’’ he said. (NAN)