Operator wants FG to monitor local content compliance
The Federal Government (FG) has been enjoined to adequately monitor compliance with local content directives in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector.Making this appeal was the Managing Director of Beta Computers, Will Anyaegbunam, when his firm played host to the Acting Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Dr. Vincent Olatunji and his team in Lagos.
Anyaegbulum, who lamented that lack of government patronage for locally made goods, especially in the ICT was killing the industry, stressed that unless the FG monitors and implements local content policy in the sector, Nigeria might continue to be a consuming nation in the 21st century knowledge economy.
Anyaegbulum, whose firm manufacturers SpeedStar Computers, noted that Nigeria’s quest to use IT to significantly increase its GDP in these days of dwindling oil revenues may not be achieved soon if the FG does not take urgent steps to ensure compliance of its agencies with the local content policy in IT that has been in existence for many years now.
He stressed that local PC assemblers needed to be encouraged and supported by the government so that they can increase their capacity and generate employment in the whole value chain of PC manufacture up to content development and customer support.The visit of the Ag. DG was part of the renewed engagement process of the government to re-connect with the stakeholders in the Nigerian information technology ecosystem to grow the digital economy.
It would be recalled that the drive to encourage and support local manufacturers of computers started in 2002 when the former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, through the office of the secretary of the Government, issued a circular dated 7th of March, 2002, to all Ministries, Departments and Agencies, that only locally manufactured computers, certified to be of acceptable quality standard should be patronized by all Federal establishments.This directive was followed up during the last government with the establishment of the Office for Nigerian Content in Information Technology (ONC), to drive this process deeper to ensure increased implementation, monitoring and compliance.
In his narrative of how Beta Computers has been assembling SpeedStar PCs even before government started recognizing local hardware years back, he said that, “Government cannot be developing local capacity and be using foreign brands in their offices. We need to be enabled and supported to make Nigeria a Hub of PC manufacturing in the West African sub region and capable of generating significant foreign exchange earnings for the country.
“NITDA is a development agency. The local content policy has been there but monitoring and implementation remain the issue. If Nigerian PC manufacturers are not developing, I am sure as DG, you will feel that the mandate of NITDA as a development agency is not bean realized.
“No local PC assemblers in the country can claim enough patronage from the government. Lack of government patronage is killing local capacity. I do not see the reason why government agencies should be using foreign brands in the office. It amounts to gross violation of its own policy on local content in IT.
While commending NITDA DG for supporting the formation of Certified Computer Manufacturers of Nigeria (CCMON), he said that the group looks forward to the Office of the Nigerian Content on IT, ONC, for a more robust implementation of policy.Noting that Beta Computers assembling plant has the capacity to assemble no fewer than 200 PCs per day, he said that, “We have a renewed expectation from NITDA”
In his remarks, the NITDA DG, assured of government commitment to support the growth of local capacity in IT.“We are here to reconnect with the stakeholders. It is a multi-stakeholders approach. We are here to see what you are doing, hear from you and see how best we can work together to grow the sector. “We are already putting in place structures that will make IT work. I just told our management during our meeting that nobody should bring foreign PCs brands in the office again. I have written a letter to the Vice President on why government should not buy foreign brands.
“I am discussing with the government on this. We will build local capacity to position Nigeria as the hub of IT in Africa. We are working with the IT hubs”, the Acting NITDA DG assured.
As part of growing the Nigerian IT sector, Olatunji said that NITDA will use the GITEX trade exhibition to tell the Nigerian story to the world by showcasing home grown IT products.
According to him, NITDA at the GITEX will tell the whole world that the story is changing, adding that it is time to promote IT Nigeria and tell the whole world that the sector is growing.
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