By Ibrahim Olukotun
Lagos. November 3, 2012: Omobola Johnson, Minister of Communication Technology, has announced that the Federal Government will provide funding to local developers to enable the economy further unlock potentials of Nigeria’s software industry estimated at N960 billion.
“The Ministry through the NITDEVF will also be seeding a venture capital fund specifically to support ICT entrepreneurs later on this year. We expect that these actions which are complementary to all the efforts that have been and are being made today will play an important role in catalysing this industry and taking it to where it really should be – the $6bn industry that it has been estimated to be”, the CommTech Minister told a software forum this week organised by the Institute of Software Professionals of Nigeria (ISPON) in Tinapa, Cross River State.
The CommTech Minister’s announcement comes just as the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) announced in September that it realised about N3.401 trillion in tax revenue at the end of August this year with the National Information Technology Development Fund (NITDEF) accounting for N8.81 billion.
NITDEF, managed by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), the nation’s IT Policy implementing agency, derives its revenue from tax-deductible levy of 1 per cent of profit before tax paid by telecoms operators, pension managers, banks and insurance companies, among others with annual turnover of N100 million and above.
Johnson assured the developer community and attendees at the forum that the Ministry of Communication Technology plans to open two pilot incubation centres to nurture ICT entrepreneurs and software developers to promote successful businesses which will reap the bounties from the country’s estimated N960 billion industry.
The pilot centres to be sited in Tinapa in Cross Rivers State and Lagos will be fully equipped with facilities, free software development tools, professional mentoring, business and technical training as well as business advisory services to groom the trainees.
In addition, the ministry will grant software entrepreneurs an unspecified amount as venture capital to catalyse their ascent into developing a world class homegrown software industry.
“The software competition helps to not only discover and promote local talent in the software industry, but it also increases the awareness of the need to nurture and develop the talent to support and fuel the growth of the industry,” the Minister says citing that Nigerian software brands like HumanManager, Xceed, Progenics and Symbol, are currently well-established within the sub-regional ICT market.
The CommTech Minister commended the Cross Rivers State Government for the establishment of the Tinapa Knowledge City in Calabar which will partner with NITDA to establish one of the two pilot centers.
In her speech, Johnson she listed a number of Nigerian software developers making the country proud locally and internationally including Abia State Polytechnic, winner, University of Lagos, first runner-up and Delta State University that won last year’s ISPON software competition.
Internationally, Somto Sharon Fab-Ukozor won the prestigious ITU Young Innovators contest with her Mobile Skills to Cash application, selected as the most innovative solution from other young innovators across the globe, at last year’s annual International Telecommunication Union competition in Geneva.
At the recent World Congress on IT in Canada, Olusegun Fodeke of iWatch, Oluseun David Onigbinde, Joseph Agunbiade and Mayowa Jaiyeola for BudgIT won their category prizes, she adds.
“I must say I was not only inspired by the sheer talent of these young men and women, but also impressed by the useful and relevant applications that they had developed. I have visited the Co-creation hub, a software innovation centre in Lagos and met with a number of other software innovation hub managers and the commitment to software development and the industry is exemplary.”
According to the CommTech Minister, “we need to move these young developers from ideas and competition-winning to social and economic success which will contribute in no small measure to the development of a world class homegrown software industry. This is why we have partnered with the private sector to develop a framework that will increase the number of IT innovation hubs in the country.”