The Director-General of National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP), Dr. Ibrahim DanAzumi has given signal that in no time, Nigerian commercial banks would be barred from purchasing and using foreign software.
In an interview, he said NOTAP has already set up a Software Local Content Committee (SLCC) with the National Information and Technology Development Agency (NITDA) to ensure that every financial software so developed in Nigerians that can favourable compete with foreign ones will lead to a total ban on importation and registration similar foreign ones.
According to him, “We have started with the public sector and any public establishment that wants to acquire software must get clearance from NITDA”.
“NITDA will look at its database to see if the software is developed locally. If we have, they will let us know that there are alternatives locally and that we should not register them.
“For now, we have to confine ourselves to government agencies and ministries but banks are the major consumer of foreign software.
DanAzumi noted further that we cannot go to the banks now; but by the time we are sure that what the banks need are locally available, we will stop to register imported software for the banks.
Continuing, NOTAP boss averred that “60 per cent of all technology transfer agreements we sign are on software. Software can be developed here locally. We sat down with stakeholders in Lagos about six years ago and said we would not just allow it to be business as usual”.
“We asked what we could do to reduce the importation of software. That was when we introduced the local vendor programme. The local vendor programme is designed to take care of two things – to develop the capacity of Nigerians in terms of the ability to develop software and at the same time provide financial support so that they will be able to translate that knowledge into software applications.
“If you are importing any technology involving software, we insist that there must be a local vendor involved. A local vendor is a Nigerian computer firm that would be involved in the deployment of that software in Nigeria. If foreign software is coming into the country, the computer firm will be involved in deployment and maintenance of the software. Gradually, it is a strategy in which the local vendor will be able to learn something.
“We don’t register any software agreement without asking for a local vendor. We say when you buy software in lump sum and after one year, there is what we call Annual Technical Services that support services in which you have to pay between 12 and 15 per cent of the total cost of software to the Original Equipment Manufacturer. It means every year, you will still pay them some money. We insist that 40 per cent of that amount should go to the Nigerian computer firm that is involved in the deployment and maintenance of the software.
Dr. DanAzumi explained that “In doing this, we build their capacity and provide them financial support. After doing this for six years, we looked back to examine the impact. If you go to Computer Warehouse Group, they have succeeded in training young Nigerians in terms of software applications development and we have learnt that they have extending their services to other African countries. Because of the 40 per cent they are getting, if you see the infrastructure they have put in place, you will be amazed. If that policy hadn’t come, all these things would not be there.