By Emma Okonji
Having saved the federal government over N10 billion in one year through the implementation of information technology (IT) clearance on the importation of foreign IT products into Nigeria, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has opened fresh talks with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and technology start-ups in the country.
The move is to develop new ways of raising the standard and quality of locally developed products and solutions.
The Director-General of NITDA, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami who made the disclosure, told THISDAY that the move became necessary, following complaints about some substandard IT products and solutions that were developed locally.
Pantami, said the move would complement government’s effort on the huge success recorded since the establishment of its IT Clearance and Monitoring Unit, which he said would continue to save money for the federal government and the Nigerian economy.
“The essence of ensuring clearance and monitoring at NITDA’s office is to save money for government. Within one year, we have saved over N10 billion for federal government.
“I can recall a single project that was brought to NITDA for clearance and after thorough review of the project, we discovered that we were able to save N3.2 billion for government from a single project, after reducing some of the quoted figures on that single project.
“But again, we need to promote the quality and standard of all IT products and solutions that are locally developed and produced in Nigeria, in order to ensure that investors get value for their money, since we are depriving them of patronising foreign developed IT solutions that could be produced locally in Nigeria,” Pantami said.
It was for this reason that NITDA decided to collaborate with OEMs and technology start-ups to discuss new ways of helping them improve on the quality and standards of their products.
“We have a lot of local OEMs that are doing well but they need to improve on the quality of their products to attract more patronage,” he added.
According to him, “NITDA is keen on supporting local content development and promotion. NITDA wants to ensure that local content development comes with world-class quality because there are lots of complaints about the quality of our hardware and software.
“To address this, NITDA is working with industry stakeholders and Original Equipment Manufacturers to ensure that they improve on the quality.
“We have had meetings with them in Lagos to thinker how to improve on the quality of locally produced hardware and software.
“Government, through NITDA is ready to assist them to improve on quality. At one of the meetings, they raised their concerns and challenges and we told them we are willing to enforce any existing law that will give them backing and protection in the course of local content production, provided they stick to quality.
“We do not have issues working with the OEMs, but the only challenge we have with them is on the issue of quality of their products, which oftentimes, is substandard, a situation that has always scared investors from investing in local software and hardware.”
Pantami assured Nigerians that NITDA would continue to encourage investors not to import IT products or parts of IT products into Nigeria, when we have the local resources and manpower to produce such products locally in the country.
To achieve quality in local production, Pantami called on local OEMs to establish service centres in Nigeria, beginning with Abuja and Lagos to ease the challenge of fixing faulty products in Nigeria.
“We even advised them to partner among themselves to jointly establish local service centres in the country since it is expensive to establish a single service centre and maintain it, Pantami said.
“In the area of local content promotion, NITDA has been monitoring the budget of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government and we have always asked them to visit NITDA to seek clearance on IT projects because NITDA serves as the clearing house for all IT projects for MDAs. “When they come to us for clearance, we ensure that a certain percentage is dedicated to local content. Through this effort, we have been able to make the MDAs to understand that they are not allowed to import IT products that can be produced in Nigeria,” Pantami further said.