Stories by ADEDEJI FAKOREDE
NIGERIA Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is growing modestly, currently nearing 11 per cent.
Findings has shown that while the sector has grown at an average of 34 per cent per annum in the last 10 quarters, largely driven by the rapid expansion in telecommunications, following the deregulation of the sub-sector in 2001, the industry’s contribution to the GDP has moved from less than 0.5 per cent in 2001 to six per cent in 2012 to 10 per cent between 2013 and 2014 and currently around 11 per cent.
The new 11 per cent contribution was however, confirmed by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Communication Technology, Dr. Tunji Olaopa, at a recently organised critical ICT forum with the United State of America Secretary of State, Charles Rivkin and US ICT investors on local content development and implementation in Lagos.
Olaopa, who called on US multinationals and other investors to partner with Nigeria in the area of ICT local content development, said such relations would grow stronger as we jointly turn Nigeria into a remarkable regional ICT hub in Africa.
According to Olaopa, apart from the oil and gas sector, ICT has been identified as a critical growth sector of the economy, stressing that over the last two years, ICT had made double digit contributions to the GDP of the nation.
“At about 11 per cent, it ranks as one of the major contributors to the GDP,” he said.
Olaopa, however, lamented that the growth potential of the ICT industry has not been fully harnessed because of the slow rate of collaboration between local and foreign ICT multinationals to develop local contents in the sector on a win-win basis.
He said: “Unfortunately, its growth has not yet translated into jobs and commensurate wealth for the nation. The reason is simple. Nigerian companies either lack the capacity or the opportunity to leverage this growth potential to participate significantly at many levels of the ICT value chain.
“Therefore, a fundamental component of the Local Content Development Program is rooted in a compelling patriotic and strategic drive to build the capacity of the indigenous companies to enable them to take advantage of the opportunities in ICT and actively participate at all levels of the value chain of ICT products and services.”
Meanwhile, he noted that part of the strategy is to assist indigenous players to obtain international certifications, such ISO and CMMI.
“The Program encourages them to implement quality assurance processes, and adopt world-class standards. This would enhance their capacity to be globally competitive.
“We envisage that the effect of such an intervention would be the emergence of a strong, vibrant and larger indigenous ICT industry in which both foreign and indigenous companies co-exist for mutual benefit,” he said.
The Permanent Secretary also used the forum to clarify that the objective of the Local Content Development Program was not to alienate foreign multinationals, but rather, the programme requires the cooperation of the multinational companies to succeed.
According to him, “a stronger and bigger ICT industry would be of even greater benefit to multinational companies. If we bake a bigger pie, everyone will get a sizeable chunk. But if the pie remains small, it certainly cannot go round.”
He explained that the win-win equation is simple and straightforward. For example, when more devices are bundled with local apps and content, more sales of the devices occur.
“This automatically increases the annual total available market for Intel processors and Microsoft operating system, among other foreign components. I therefore use the opportunity of this meeting to appeal for the understanding, cooperation, collaboration and support of the multinational companies and the international community for our Local Content Development Program so that we can jointly build a bigger ICT industry in Nigeria,” he said.
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