By Emma Okonji
Software developers under the aegis of the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), have called on the federal government to save the local software industry in Nigeria from collapse by coming up with policies that will protect local software development in the country.
The stakeholders who spoke at a forum organised by ISPON in Lagos recently with the theme: ‘The Future of Software’, enumerated the myriad of challenges facing the local software industry in Nigeria. They stressed that the best way to overcome the challenges and make local software development competitive with foreign software, was for the federal government to quickly come up with policies that would protect local software development in the country, and encourage local funding of locally developed software.
President of ISPON, Dr. Yele Okeremi, said: “The federal government celebrates foreign software and allows foreign software companies to buy over local software companies, instead of funding local software developers to compete with foreign software developers. Nigerians are producing software engineers that are working in Oracle, Microsoft and other foreign software companies, yet government will not fund local software industry that will accommodate several software developers assigned with different responsibilities to develop specific software that will address specific challenges.”
“Until we as a nation can actually produce intellectual property that all residents can pay and will be sustained within Nigeria, we cannot boast of intellectual property rights in the area of software in Nigeria. Countries like China and Russia have policies that protect their software intellectual property and Nigeria must begin to think in that direction,” he added.
According to him, there is nothing wrong in patronising foreign software, but Nigeria as a country must be able to produce software that should be patronised by Nigerians, insisting that the software industry needs government’s support in the area of policy implementation to achieve it.
Former President of ISPON, Mr. Pius Okigbo Jnr, said the Nigerian software industry would need the infrastructure that would enable it build commercial software applications that can meet individual, organisational and societal needs. According to him, to produce commercial software that would address societal needs, there was need to change the mindsets of government and multinational organisations that still believed strongly in and still patronise foreign software at the detriment of local software. He said for Nigeria to grow fast in software development, the country needed to grow an ecosystem where over 200 software developers would be accommodated to develop different software that address different needs.
Chief Executive of Futuresoft, Mrs. Nkemdilim Uwaje Begho, said Nigeria needed to overcome its software challenges by building a workable software ecosystem that would develop solutions that would address key societal challenges in Nigeria. “As a country, we have not built value added services around local software and we need government support to build such kind of software ecosystem that will accommodate several software developers that are brainstorming on different solutions from the same software ecosystem, especially in today’s digital era where customer support with specialized software solution is on the increase,” Begho said. She also spoke on the need for renewed strategy on the patronage of local software solutions, since government is the biggest spender in software patronage, and urged government to come up with policy implementation on local software patronage.
She said software infrastructure development remained key in attracting foreign funding for local software development.
CEO, Cymantyks Nigeria, Mr. Emeka Okoye, who runs a software company in Nigeria, said government’s support for local software should attract and retain foreign investments in software in Nigeria. He therefore, called for full government’s support for local software industry in Nigeria, which he said would be a huge source of revenue for government, if adequately supported.
Okoye who decried the zero infrastructure system in the area of software infrastructure in the country, said Nigeria must begin to develop software infrastructure in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and in other emerging technologies.