The Federal Government says it plans to enact enabling laws that will criminalizing non patronage of indigenous ICT brands by government institutions in Nigeria.
The proposed enactments will target government MDAs (Ministries, Departments and Agencies) and other relevant stakeholders, Barrister Adebayo Shittu, Minister of Communication hinted.
The Minister disclosed this in his keynote address at the recent Local Content workshop organized by the National Information and Technology Development Agency (NITDA) in Abuja, where concerned participants condemned the dominance of Nigerian ICT market by foreign brands.
Shittu said that that the Federal Government would be aggressive in addressing this abnormality by according priority to Local Content development. The policy thrust is geared towards ensuring that all the local Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) partner withlocal operators to ensure backward integration, the Minister says.
According to him, “the local content development policy would be implemented to protect indigenous players in the industry and the ministry would galvanize right policies that would see to the needs of the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).”
Shittu, who frowned at the dominance of the $39.7bn Nigerian ICT market by foreign brands, noted that Nigeria was losing about $2.8billion annually to the continued importation of ICT hardware and services, which he said is largely unsustainable amid revenue constraints occasioned by the dwindling oil resources.
He said that for the purpose of product conceptualization, adaptation, design and prototype development, the OEMs can buy components of their systems that are produced by local manufacturers as well as maintain in-country research and development departments.
The stakeholders at the workshop also resolved to give OEMs and other ICT product manufacturers in Nigeria a competitive edge over their foreign competitors.
They contend that the purpose of the Local Content Act is to promote the indigenization of Nigeria’s ICT industry, implementation of local content, noting that, on the contrary, foreign companies have taken advantage of obsolete policies and flooded the market with their goods.
Participants at the workshop decided to strengthen the local content policy as they argued that for Nigeria to succeed, no stone should be left unturned in giving the needed protection to the local brands through the amendment of relevant laws.
Florence Seriki, the Managing Director, OMATEK, a Nigerian PC maker said the move would address the issue of apathy towards the patronage of Nigeria ICT products. It will also creating huge opportunities and enabling environment for the local ICT industries to thrive and succeed in business, she added.