By Emma Okonji
Citing the rising cases of insecurity, coupled with the growing unemployment rate in the country, a group of software experts called the National Software Think Tank, has called for a partnership with the federal government to establish a national software strategy.
The initiative, according to them, would help address the country’s rising insecurity and unemployment rates.
The Group made the call in Abuja, during a recent courtesy visit to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, led by its chairman. Mr. Chris Uwaje.
In his presentation, Uwaje blamed government for not harnessing the power of technology enough in addressing the insecurity challenges facing the country, as well as the rising unemployment rate.
The National Software Think Tank, therefore called on government to establish a special National Software Strategy as a critical framework to address the challenges and national security risks observed in the software development ecosystem and the implications for Nigeria. The software developers also called for the endorsement of the proposed Five-Year Software Strategic Plan to accelerate the adoption and patronage of Nigeria developed application software and maximize the opportunities and benefits presented by the digital era.
“We have come to seek partnership with the office of the Honorable Minister on how the software ecosystem can be strategically harnessed and deployed for mass employment of our youths, add valuable contributions to the GDP, promote sustainable development goals, national security and wealth creation,” Uwaje said in his presentation.
In his welcome speech, the minister commended the National Software Think Tank for their concern in ensuring speedy development of the Nigerian economy to better the lots of Nigerians, and promised to look at the issues raise at visit.
Other members of the National Software Think Tank that visited the Pantami, include the former CEO of CWG Plc, Mr. James Agada; Business Director in charge of Government Affairs at CWG Pls, Mr. Udukheli Izebuno; CEO, Union Systems Software Services, Mr. Chuks Onyebuchi; Group Chief Executive, Fasyl Group, Mr. Jude Obiakor; Group Managing Director, CHAMS Plc, Mr. Olufemi Williams; and CEO, BSSL Technologies Limited, James Emadoye. Others are Nkemdilim Begho; Emeka Okoye; Olusola Adenuga; Bimbo Abioye; Tunji Durodoye; Inye Kemabonta; Uche Mbanaso; and Chinenye Mba-Uzoukwu.
The National Software Think Tank is a convergence of ICT Expert Group setup by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) in 2019 to drive software development in the country.
Recognising the enormity of challenges faced by the Nigerian software ecosystem as critical national infrastructure for the economy, the group said there was urgent need for legal protection of the country’s software industry.
The group, which made its recommendations in the short term, medium term and long term strategies, urged the federal government to issue an Executive Order requiring and directing all software companies indicating intent for corporate registration with the Nigerian Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), to comply and ensure that 51 per cent of the company ownership is by Nigerians resident in Nigeria. It also called for Executive Order requiring and directing the mandatory adoption and usage of Open Source Software Model by all Federal, State, Local Government Areas and education institutions based on national cybersecurity concerns, and by extension, the software must be designed, developed, deployed and supported by Nigerian companies, ensuring that no foreign exchange remittance is required for the purpose.
The group also recommended that effective from June 1, 2020 the Federal Government should issue a directive to encourage and ensure deliberate creation of 250,000 highly qualified and skilled software engineers and developers annually between 2020 and 2022. This, the group said, would require a certification framework as measurable mechanism, which would guarantee quality and target volume.