FG decries N156bn annual losses to foreign software

The Federal Government yesterday decried the over N156 billion ($1 billion) lost to software licensing in Nigeria, saying the patronage of foreign software and applications has stunted the country’s software sector.

Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson lamented the colossal economic losses to increasing penchant for foreign software at the 2013 National Software Conference and Competition organised in Calabar by the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria, ISPON.

Currently, the annual capital flight to software licensing, delivery services and technical support in the nation’s economy has been conservatively valued at N156 billion ($1 billion) annually by the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria, ISPON.

President of ISPON, Mr. Chris Uwaje, had stated that the losses were in addition to evidence of colossal losses to banks, oil sector, and the government.

According to him, the loss was also due to inconsistent version upgrade and processes leading to failed software products, project implementation and services.

He had also listed unregulated state of foreign software products in Nigeria, non-existent national policy and legislation on software, implementation of e-government, e-education, tele-medicine and protection of cyberspace for national security and survivability as other factors confronting the growth of Information and Communication Technology.

Delivering a paper on the theme: ‘Software Strategies for Retooling the Workforce’ at the ISPON’s conference, Johnson argued that for Nigeria, software strategies must not only be about improving productivity as it also provides an avenue for transforming the economy, creating jobs and creating wealth.

“So we need to tackle the broader challenge of how we take our promising software developers and software engineers and help them to become entrepreneurs that can take advantage of this opportunity,” she said.

According to the minister, assessing Nigeria’s software industry landscape, however, reveals two things the country needs to focus on to tackle the current challenge the sector is facing.

“The first is the innovation process. This centres on the process of creation or ideation that ultimately results in a successfully executed software solution or platform.

“The second is focus on companies not code. We have to keep sight of the fact that brilliantlywritten lines of code must still be considered as building blocks for the successful software companies that must be our ultimate target in building a viable software industry.”

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