Business

FG set to tap into $82.2bn software market

…enforces telcos’ use of indigenous software

The Federal Government is set to establish the Nigeria Office for Developing Indigenous Telecom Sector (NODITS) to push for local content in telecoms, New Telegraph has learnt. Specifically, the office, described as a special purpose vehicle, is to enforce the use of indigenous software by telecoms operators in Nigeria as the country aims to benefit from the global software market valued at $82.2 billion in 2020. According to the National Policy for the Promotion of Indigenous Content in Nigerian Telecommunications Sector, which was recently launched by President Muhammadu Buhari, the new office will be under the purview of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to stimulate the development of indigenous content in the sector While noting that most telecom operators in Nigeria rely heavily on imported software, government, in the policy, said the operators must be made to source their software locally for Nigeria to be part of the global software market, which Statistica valued at $82.2 billion in 2020. “Software deployments in the telecom sector covers a range of services for both business support systems (BSS) and operations support systems (OSS).

Services like performance monitoring, billing, customer resource management, analytics and network inventory management. “Emerging technologies, such as data analytics, are now being utilised on a regular basis. Telecommunication service providers also make use of a number of value added services, including Over-The-Top (OTT) services. “This focus area also covers mobile virtual network operating services and other exclusive telecom services, such as call centre operation, mast site protection, and other service contracts.

“There is sufficient capacity for the indigenous development of these software and services but the industry currently has a high level of dependence on foreign software and services. Indigenous providers can benefit from the many opportunities in services focus area,” the policy read. On the functions of the new office to be created, government said NODITS will implement the local content policy in the telecom sector and ensures that telecom operators comply.

“The main functions of NODITS should include the following, where relevant: to support the creation and implementation of guidelines for the development of the indigenous content for the telecommunications sector; to stimulate the growth of the sector through a focused, sustainable and incentives-based approach that encourages the active participation of the indigenous telecom operators; and to liaise with the Office for Indigenous Content Development at NITDA; (Quarterly Meeting)- for synergy and convergence of digital technologies.” Other functions of the office include “to facilitate the sourcing of indigenous products, manpower, and services across the entire value chain of the telecom sector; to evaluate and endorse indigenous content plans for operators in the telecom sector; to create a platform for research and capacity building programmes that prepares Nigerians to play a leading role in the telecom sector; to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the telecom sector; promotion of indigenous phones and other telecommunications equipment; to create and update a roadmap for the implementation of this Policy and ensure active monitoring and enforcement mechanisms for promoting indigenous content in the telecommunications sector; and to monitor indigenous content compliance by operators and service providers.” According to the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON) Nigeria loses N156 billion annually to software importation.

This, however, is not limited to telecom operators alone as the institute believes the huge annual software import is led by by government’s ministries departments and agencies (MDAs). According to a former President of ISPON, Mr James Emadoye, with top government agencies still relying on foreign software, the annual loss would continue to go up while local software companies would continue to go under. He noted that the preference for foreign software, even when indigenous software are available and better suited, is not only causing Nigeria loss of money but also loss of job, loss of foreign exchange and loss of IT companies. Emadoye described as shameful the fact that Nigeria with over N200 million population is relying on small countries with population less than one per cent of Nigeria’s for software.

“Take for instance, CBN’s Real-Time Gross Settlement (RTGS), an electronic form of funds transfer where the transmission takes place on a real-time basis, it is powered by software from Sweden. “OAGF’s Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) is powered by software from Estonia, while FIRS’ Integrated Tax Administration System, (ITAS) is powered by software from Canada.” He added that the NIBSS BVN initiative is also being powered by software from Germany, adding that most of the software in Nigerian banks are from India and Jordan. “All these are software that can be written in Nigeria and, mind you, software is software, irrespective of where it is written” he added.

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