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*Text Of The Address Of The President Of Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), Olorogun James O. Emadoye (MBA,FCA,FNCS), On The Occasion Of The 56th Independence Celebration of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The Institute of Software practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON) congratulates Nigerians on the eve of Nigeria’s 56th Independence celebration. In 1960, Nigeria’s population was 45.21m, now we are about 200million people, which is about a 400% increase over a period of 56 years. How can we govern and manage 200m Nigeria? How can Software play a critical role as harbinger of economic and technological development?
2.0 ADVOCACY FOR LOCALLY DEVELOPED SOFTWARE REVOLUTION
As Nigeria moves into the 21st century its wealth creation dynamics and international competitiveness will be significantly influenced by her ability to develop, measure and exploit her intellectual capital (IP) in information technology (IT), Innovation and creativity. Indeed, many of the new business opportunities for Nigerian and African firms will depend on their capacity to develop Innovative skills, IT-smart applications, solutions, products and services which respond to the expanding role of Science and Technology across the economic development Ecosystem.
ISPON has continued to engage government on the need to support made in Nigeria products particularly software which is capable of providing millions of employment to young Nigerians. Software is strategically essential if not mandatory for Nigeria to resolve her current and future economic challenges. Today, the world of Innovation has become the pathway to disruptive technology platforms for re-engineering the blueprint for smarter processes, more effective leadership and governance for inclusive public service
ISPON hereby points out the urgent need for a distinct National Software Policy and Strategic Framework for Nigeria. The comfortable mantra seeking to explain the inability to designate special funding scheme to promote innovation and Youth empowerment through Start-up Development on the grounds of lack of realistic collateral for lending opportunities, is an insult to the pioneers of our Technological aspiration, IT and Software industry, and indeed, to all Nigerian entrepreneurs who are battling to overcome the monumental challenges of our local environment.
ISPON’s understanding is that our national economic and social crisis can only be meaningfully resolved, if conscious and adequate protection and patronage is accorded indigenous knowledge resources, empowerment of Innovation, skill capabilities in Science, Technology and ICT capacity development processes and services are made national development priorities. With over 100,000 students in the department of Computer Science in the tertiary institution, a national Software strategy has become fundamentally imperative for the survivability of Nigeria’s future.
Members organisation and professional members of ISPON have performed exceedingly well in the provision of products for the Nigeria software ecosystem. Software fully made in Nigeria are available in virtually every sector of the economy and there is virtually no need to pay millions of dollars importing solution with accompanied huge maintenance/license charges when smart Nigerian have already developed these solutions locally.
It should be noted that a million dollar paid out for software solutions would have created several employment opportunities for the teaming jobless Nigeria youth when such monies are spent in acquiring made in Nigeria software products. It is an established fact that Nigerian are the most educated immigrant community in the US. 60% of Nigerians in the US have college degrees, far and above the United States average of 30%. To demonstrate how smart the average Nigerians are, Howard University, Washington D.C gave special recognition and awards to 27 graduating Doctor of Pharmacy candidates, 16 out of the 27 awardees went to Nigerians. This is over and above 50%. In computing, the patency for the World fastest computer is still held by our own Philip Emeagwali, yet we have state government and some MDA’s paying close to $6 million dollars in license/maintenance charges.
There is no excuse therefore for anybody to complain on the need to adopt made in Nigeria software for all of our businesses in government, education, industry and the military. We must make concerted effort to develop, consume and enthrone made in Nigeria products in all facets of our lives. Only then would we be proud to say we are an independent nation. We cannot say we are independent, when we import from match sticks to cars, soap, rice, fish, oil etc when we produce and export crude only to use the money to import fuel and gas etc. We are only working and labouring for others. Our officials carry our money to store in other countries thereby making such countries stronger with resources that they can invest in their economy with low or no interest rates whilst our own cost of capital is totally unbearable.
3.0 NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT AND CITIZENS’ e-READINESS
As we enter the era of Internet of Things (IoTs), Nigeria must be prepared more than ever, for the future which shall be dominated by e-Everything – with particular reference to the development and patronage of indigenous software. In 2050, most of the World’s citizens will live in cities – that is, Smart cities and will need smart services driven and sustained by software and embedded system. The ubiquitous computing will become highly pronounced by 2020 as over 50billion devices would be connected through IoTs, the task and opportunities before Nigeria is enormous. ISPON therefore wish to submit that the current economic meltdown in Nigeria and out of the roof inflation represents a significant wakeup call for retooling the national workforce with quality ICT skills and accelerating the application of innovative thinking in startup entrepreneurship and e-Commerce initiatives in Nigeria.
The knowledge Olympiad is here and Nigeria as the most populous black nation in the world must step forward to be counted and digitally ready at all levels, if she must survive the emerging critical challenges, traumatic impact as well as secure the opportunities and benefits presented by ‘globalization order’ of the 21st Century.
4.0 Africa and Statistics of Internet
Africa has been described as the 2nd largest Continent on earth, the cradle of mankind civilization, the home of dance and rhythm and the most resource rich continent on earth. Africa has an estimated population of over 1.2billion people which are about 16% of the world population. According to internetlivestat.com, Africa has recorded 9.8% penetration of Internet Users against the 90.2% of the rest of the world as at November 2015. We are not there yet but if we must secure the opportunities provided by the IoTs, Africa must understand the role and impact of Software in actualizing the globalization order.
Pleasantly, within the last half decade, Nigeria Internet Penetration has actually increased from 23% to 46.1%, we have recorded tremendous growth in the area of software development, job creation, education, health, agriculture, digital inclusion etc. It was said that ICT in Nigeria contributes 10% of the national GDP so it means that if platforms are created, skills and capacity developed, policies and strategic plans implemented, Africa will be transformed into a Digital Ecosystem for wealth creation within the next decade.
In clear terms, it has become – not only mandatory – but indeed a time-sensitive national priority and strategic imperative that, Nigerian Government at all levels must ensure the establishment of digital ‘Retooling’ Institutional models and by extension, the patronage of the local content software and solutions to accelerate development and wealth creation. This amongst others, is fundamental for the actualization of effective national e-readiness status and the mandatory automation of all transactions processes, functions and operations – which must be sustained by highly skilled and IT literate work force.
5.0 NEWLY NITDA DIRECTOR GENERAL
ISPON welcomes the appointment of Dr. Isa Ali Pantami has the Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency. We believe that Dr. Pantami should immediately settle down to start the process of taking Nigeria to the next level in the development, standardization and usage of made in Nigeria software. His appointment at a time when Nigeria is in recession and therefore in need of strategies to quickly come out of recession by creating employment for jobless Nigerians is apt.
ISPON therefore calls on the new DG to immediate put in place necessary machinery for declaring the use of made in Nigeria Software in Nigeria a priority. This will go a long way into meeting the yarning of Nigerians. ISPON shall be on hand to support the DG for the benefit of all Nigerians.
6.0 CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENTATION
The next battle field for globalization will be of constructive National Policies and Strategies on software, digital Security and Artificial Intelligence of Things (AIoTs). Other sensitive areas include but not limited to: Empowering the Youth and the New Creative Class; Understanding and Classifying Software as an essential products such as Food & Drugs; Devote great interest to promoting Digital Games with African Content; Engaging and facilitating Access to Mobile Broadband technology/IPv6 and reduce the unavoidable Africa e-Culture Shock of 21st Century.
The concept of fear and/or ignorance of Technology and Information Technology in particular (in top government policy-makers and informed citizens) have become a critical factor for the advocacy of e-readiness for the financial transaction Ecosystem.
Government-to-Government (G2G) process automation is fundamental to the actualization of the objectives set forth in our National Economic Empowerment Development Plans; and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. These plans are focused on how Government-to-Citizen (G2C) interface can grossly benefit the citizenry. Above all, G2G is critically essential to facilitate and accelerate the transformation and enhancement of the vital component of Government-to-Business (G2B) processes. President Mohammad Buhari will be doing his government great good by ensuring that the 70% of the over 15Billion Naira budgeted in 2016 for Computer Software Acquisition is spent only on software produced by Nigerians and Nigerian companies. This will ensure that the over 65% of our population who are Youth benefit greatly and shall serve as the tunic and pathway fromr the current recession.
7.0 NIGERIA AT 56 WHICH WAY
The U.K. has introduced coding into the national school curriculum; the Department for Education said its aim was to prepare children for “life in modern Britain” the first G20 country to take this step. The clock is clicking and the time can no longer wait for a people who are not ready to take their destiny seriously.
It is in the light of the above that I humbly wish to recommend to the Nigeria government as follows:
- E-Government skill acquisition should be made mandatory for all government policy makers, strategists and Political Leaders to drive social inclusiveness. And readiness for e-Everything.
- Establishment of software development fund through the Bank of Industry (BOI) to be administer by the BOI at an interest rate/management fees less than 5% for Software companies and professionals towards developing capacity, attaining standardization and packaging made in Nigeria software to international standards
- Establish special State IT-Innovation Research Laboratories on Indigenous Software Development and Future Technologies and Embedded Systems – focused on Internet of Things (IoT.)
- Establish National Software Development Fund (NSDF) to build and estimated 500,000 Developers in 3 years) as large scale IT Workforce, as well as empower Entrepreneurs, Startups, and IT Professionals.
- Establish a standing special curriculum drafting committee for primary, secondary and tertiary level of education in Nigeria the committee should constantly retool the curriculums.
- Finally, State should retool all lecturers and civil servants to deliver digital dividend through inclusiveness in the emerging information society (IS).
8.0 The INSTITUTE OF SOFTWARE PRACTITIONERS OF NIGERIA (ISPON), is the Industry-Professional body for Indigenous Software Developers and Practitioners in Nigeria. ISPON was established in 1999 with the aim of creating an enabling environment for local content developers to thrive locally and internationally. She has been in the forefront of championing the advocacy for the application and utilization of locally developed software in order to boost our economy, GDP and give Nigeria an alternative to Oil as a revenue earner. This paper aim is to facilitate government leadership and stakeholder’s endorsement for accelerated patronage of software-Nigeria for digital inclusiveness strategy, social, economic development and wealth creation intervention in Nigeria.
Our Objectives: The formation of ISPON was motivated by the following imperatives:
- Provide and promote an independent national forum for the software and service companies and professionals in Nigeria to interact, exchange information, share knowledge and address issues of common interest in information technology generally and the software industry in particular.
- Ensure that the software technology profession in Nigeria takes a dynamic stance in studies and development projects aimed at providing solutions for national development and progress within the framework of global competitiveness.
iii. Create and sustain a professionally competent organization capable of attracting government, national and international attention and support.
- Promote and foster active national awareness on the vital role, application, use and diffusion of software technology in national development efforts.
- Promote and ensure self-reliance in software design, development, application and usage, for the creation of national wealth.
- Assist the government; its agencies, and corporate institutions monitor software projects and services carried out in Nigeria.
vii. Sponsor, promote and support national policies for software technology development and actively contribute to the National Development Plan.
Olorogun James O. Emadoye (MBA,FCA,FNCS),