Stakeholders in Nigeria’s ICT ecosystem have thrown the challenge of a sustained Local Content policy at the doorstep of the Federal Government, calling on it and all MDAs to patronize local ICT products and services.
Speaking at the 3rd Edition of the Local Content RoundTable and Tech Fair, which was held in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, the stakeholders noted that the success of the local content policy rest largely on the patronage of homegrown and developed ICT products and services, especially by the government, who they believe is the biggest consumer of any product.
Speaking at the event, the Executive Secretary of the African ICT Foundation (AfICTF), Mr. Emmanuel Bassey, said that the government has the will power and the state instrument to make the policy success and for the growth of the ICT industry in the country.
According to him, with the continual full implementation of the “Executive Order 3 On Support of Local Content Procurement by the Federal Government and the Presidential Executive Order 5 for Planning and Execution of Projects, Promotion of Nigerian Content In Contracts and Science, Engineering and Technology”, a lot can be achieved by government in the promotion and support of the local content policy adding that the resultant effect would be a robust economy, for instance, Nigeria’s in Financial Technology (Fintech), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) tools and mobile application development which has already been acknowledged globally can be more for national benefit.
He advised that all hands must be on deck, from the presidency to the legislature, the judiciary, state, local governments and communities; Civil society activists and international partners to support the work of the Nigerian Software industry to achieve its full potential.
He disclosed that the AfICTF, an independent Non- Government Organization -NGO with a vision to formulating, evaluating and promoting ICT and Telecoms policies in Africa is already on the forefront helping to assist Africans to create job opportunities, accelerate innovation, and boost productivity within the ICT ecosystem in the continent.
Earlier in his opening remark, the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami said that the local content policy has the capacity to boost the nation’s GDP besides creating jobs for Nigerians adding that the government will continue to support the policy.
According to him, the nation is on the path of greatness with the policy in place saying that the government is excited about the wide embrace of ICT by both the public and private sectors of the economy.
Convener of the Roundtable, Mr. Inye Kemabonta, said that it is a wrong perception that the task of local content policy implementation rests with the entrepreneur noting,” Over the years, we have come to see many gray areas or public misconceptions about the Local Content Policy of Government.”
HE said: “The first misconception is that it is the duty of Nigerian entrepreneurs, companies and innovators such as OEMs to first raise their quality and standards before they can enjoy patronage. This is not true even though the quality is important in production.
“The truth is that a local content policy in WTO is purely a non-commercial, Government procurement initiative under the exception clause in GATT Article III (a &b) which allows a Government to spend public funds to purchase domestic products for its own use or to develop indigenous industry.”
He explained that the Government can use its procurement policy to create a market for local products and encourage more local production and that one way is to aggregate government procurement needs in a manner that guarantees volume;
He noted that the government still has the overarching initiative to do all it can to develop the local industry of focus.