The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, has stressed the need for local content development in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector in order to deepen development that would drive the Nigerian economy.
The minister, who spoke at the 22nd Nigerian Economic Summit in Abuja , said the country needed to step up its investment plan on Research and Development (R&D) in ICT, just the same way other countries are doing.
He said between 2005 and 2014, South Korea spent 4.5 per cent in R&D in ICT, Russia spent 4.15 per cent, while Nigeria spent 0.22 per cent, insisting that Nigeria cannot expect so much from ICT because it is not investing much in the sector.
According to him, if federal government injects just one per cent of GDP into ICT development, it would go a long way in enhancing local production for self-sustainability.
He said government is planning to establish Technology Bank in the country that would focus on funding technology projects in the country.
Ogbonnaya assured Nigerians that government would soon come up with short medium and long term investment plan for ICT, with a view to supporting both the small and big time technology companies that would need government support.
“The federal government is also planning to establish ICT incubation centre in 30 states of the federation for grassroots development. We are equally planning to hold a technology expo that will further boost technology innovation among technology startups. The plan to develop Technology Park for ICT incubation is also in the pipeline,” Ogbonnaya said.
He explained that the essence of all these, is to develop and strengthen local content that would boost local manufacturing of ‘Made in Nigeria’ goods. He encouraged Nigerians to always patronise ‘Made in Nigeria’ products, to encourage mass production of local products, using local contents.
Chairman, Signal Alliance and member of the Lagos Angel Network, Mr. Collins Onuegbu, said the best way to develop local content in ICT, is for government to invest in technology startups and make funds available for them to boost technology innovation and creativity.
“Aside funding the startups, government must also consider giving tax rebate to investors who may have invested in startups that could not break even,” Onuegbu said.
He said one major drawbacks about investing in startups, is that nine out of every 10 startups sponsored by angel investors or any other investor, may end up not being successful. He therefore said that government must begin to think of how to compensate investors by way of exempting them from taxes, until they recoup their investment on the failed startups.
“If such palliatives are offered by government for investors who invest in technology startups, it will encourage them to invest the more and create opportunity for growth in the ICT sector,” Onuegbu said.
He called on government to support Co-Creation Hub in Yaba, Lagos, a private venture investment initiative for the development of startups in Nigeria.