By Olubunmi Adeniyi
Lagos. April 29, 2013: Companies have to take active part in driving local content which is seen as key in creating the critical mass that will attract Nigerians to go online, the nation’s telecoms regulator has said.
Eugene Juwah, Executive Vice Chairman, NCC made this statement yesterday in Lagos during a panelist session at Local Internet Content Forum (LICF) tagged “Sustaining Local Internet Content, the way forward for Nigeria”.
Juwah, who was represented by Sylvanus Ehikioya, the Director, New Media and Information Security, NCC lament the low participation of local operators in driving critical local content that will help to sustain the country’s telecoms sector.
He notes that for example NCC published last month a call for proposals for telecommunications-based innovations from academics in Nigeria’s tertiary institutions and up till present, no institution has responded to the call which closes on April 28, this year.
However, he said the reason for the call is to provide feasible, pure and applied research ideas that are capable of replacing foreign technologies that are in use in the telecoms industry to help mitigate capital flight caused by dependence on foreign technology.
The NCC boss notes that while the investment into the sector has witnessed significant growth, a larger percentage of the money, which should have remained in Nigerian, is being lost to capital flight.
As part of the strategy to increase demand for local content, NCC says that it is pertinent to focus on producing unique and interesting local content online at reasonable price to accelerate the internet content consumption demand in the country.
He said knowing well that broadband is a key factor for national socio-economic development, NCC is currently implementing some programmes to accelerate broadband development in Nigeria.
“Without local content the full utilization of broadband infrastructure that we are putting in place in collaboration with operators will not be realizable,” he adds.
Also at the event, the Minister of Communication Technology, Omobola Johnson, said that, “we need to think about manufacturing devices here, creating our local content in Nigeria to facilitate effective delivery of education, health, security and other basic needs have helped to increase social welfare.”
Johnson who was represented by Seyi Onabanjo, SA to the Minister on Local Content says there quite a number of things the Ministry has done to accelerate local content development in the country.
According to her, the Federal Government is providing seed funding to develop ICT Innovation hubs across the country.
She explains that the move is to encourage the generation of more local content and to enable the local software developers get closer access to the facilities necessary to build applications, websites, among others.
Also speaking at the event, Yusuf Kazaure, Group Head of Corporate Services, Galaxy Backbone Plc, said there has been an increase in the publication of Internet applications and broadband resources by Government including the deployment of ICT infrastructure and Services Centres.
He notes that it has become imperative to bridge the gap between government and the governed through the Internet given that most government agencies and parastatals are yet to have functioning websites.
Thanks to the Ministry of Communication Technology which launched the new Government Service Portal hoped to go a long way in improving online participation of government agencies and parastals, Kazaure adds.
According to him, “over 150 MDAs have presence in the Galaxy Backbone portal and we expect to see more with the new initiatives by the CommTech Ministry.”
In his welcome address, Chima Onyekwere, Chairman of Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN), says the LICF forum is set out to create mind shift.
Onyekwere, who was represented by Sam Adeleke, a member of the board of IXPN says that there is need to further foster innovation in the local content marketplace as there is already a market for it.
“We need to stop hosting our content abroad so as to reduce capital flight”, he adds.
According to Onyekwere the forum is aimed at improving the ease of access to and availability of the registry, enhance local content creation.
It also seeks to bring the DotNG country code Top-Level domain (ccTLD) closer to the operators and service providers and take advantage of the operator neutral nature of the exchange point.