Mr Austin Okere, the Founder and Group CEO of Computer Warehouse Group Plc, has called for the appropriate local content policy in the Nigerian telecoms market.
[blockquote right=”pull-right” cite=”Mr Austin Okere, the Founder and Group CEO of Computer Warehouse Group Plc, has called for the appropriate local content policy in the Nigerian telecoms market.”]“We should not confuse local content with taking businesses from foreign investors and handing them over to locals without recourse to technical ability and financial capability within the value chain”[/blockquote]
He made this call while speaking on the local content panel at the recently held Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) Telecom Executives and Regulator’s Forum in Lagos.
According to him, local content policy should not be confused with indigenisation policy, that is, the taking over of foreign businesses by Nigerians.
“We should not confuse local content with taking businesses from foreign investors and handing them over to locals without recourse to technical ability and financial capability within the value chain”, Okere says.
The CWG boss believes that while telecoms operation is extremely intensive in financial investment, the rewards are very slow in manifesting. Many of the local CDMA operators are finding it increasingly difficult to sustain the heavy investments needed to make their networks viable, and are losing subscribers at an alarming rate, threatening their existence.
He also made a distinction between the capital-intensive laying of communication pipes which he refers to as ‘plumbing’, and the utilisation of the pipes to provide value added services such as e-commerce. In his view, local entrepreneurs will benefit more in the value chain by taking advantage of the communication infrastructure to launch hitherto unrealisable business models as has been demonstrated by Jumia, Konga, and his own company CWG Plc, which has taken advantage of the pervasive broadband infrastructure in the country to launch a cloud-based subscription business providing technology to SMEs tagged CWG 2.0.
Okere gave examples of how local companies such as Alibaba in China have taken this initiative to create businesses much bigger than the telecoms ‘plumbing providers’. Other examples are Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter in the US and MPESA in Kenya.
“Local content should not be about targeting a bigger share of the small cake, but rather baking a much bigger cake that can go round everybody, with people paying in the areas of their greatest strengths”, Okere concluded.