The Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs.
Several factors inspired and guided government in developing the local content guidelines for the industry. When the
The ICT industry is made up of IT practitioners and the telecommunications and broadcast practitioners. So which section of the industry is the local content guidelines targeting?
The local content guideline is primarily focused on the IT industry, but there are some areas of the document that talked about telecoms, in the areas of SIM cards, and value added services in the telecoms sector. So about 90 per cent of the guidelines is focused on IT, while the remaining 10 per cent is focused on telecoms. The truth is that there is integration that has brought about a thin line between IT and telecoms, such that you cannot discuss telecoms without talking about IT at the same time.
The oil and gas industry has the local content Act that has helped in boosting development in the sector. Is government looking at replicating same in the ICT industry?
Yes government will wish to replicate what is going on in the oil and gas sector in the ICT industry, in terms of local content, but the truth is that before we came up with the local content document, we first seek audience with the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board,
How would government go about its implementation, in order to sustain it?
The implementation would be carried out through the IT development agency, which is NITDA, and it will set up an office to monitor its implementation. So we need to be careful on this so that this initiative will not be buried prematurely, like most government initiatives in the past. We must guide against its failure because it is strategic and important not only for the IT industry, but also for the country itself. So there would certainly be an office to monitor its implementation.
So what does
Oh! very tremendous gains would be achieved by
In terms of review, how flexible would the guidelines be?
It is quite flexible, when in it comes to review and amendment in the future, because these were done closely with industry stakeholders that understand the dynamics of the industry. The guidelines were developed in collaboration with industry stakeholders, and I can assure Nigerians that during implementation, if there are things that needed to be changed or adjusted, it would be allowed, because the document is not rigid but flexible. Although certain things could be changed in the course of implementation, but certain things remained unchanged for the good of the industry.
NITDA is a government parastatal that is responsible for IT implementation for the country, but do think it has the capacity to implement local content for the IT sector?
Yes it has the capacity to implement it, even though it has not done it before, because this is the first time we are implementing local content guidelines for the IT industry. Within NITDA, government has to build capacity in terms of monitoring and evaluation of the entire process. Like I said earlier, we will burrow from the
Recently you gave telecoms companies ultimatum to stop importation of SIM cards. Is this part of the local content initiative, and what is the time frame for the ultimatum?
Yes we gave telecoms operators operating in the country, ultimatum to stop importation of SIM cards because government is aware that the SIM cards could be produced locally in
Again the two years time lag is to enable our local industry to prepare very well and put in place all that is needed for local SIM card production in the country. This is so because they must be able to produce the same quality of SIM cards that were being ordered by the operators. From our own investigation, government is convinced that we have local manufacturers that could produce SIM cards locally in the country. Already, there are local companies that are producing chips for banks, and it is the same technology to produce SIM cards.
Most Nigerian entrepreneurs are skeptical about quality in local manufacturing, be it in SIM cards, computers, mobile phones, software development, and other electronic gadgets. How is government going to ensure quality products in its drive for the implementation of local content guidelines?
Local manufacturing of devices is actually easier doing so in the IT sector than any other sectors in the world. If you take the hardware device for instance, you will discover that there are very few countries in the world that manufacturer devices from the scratch to completion stage. What majority do is assembling. They go to a particular set of manufacturers with specifications and they take the products to their countries to assemble them from their assembling plants. For chip manufacturing, we have about three or four companies in the world that are into it, and other countries go there to manufacture. If we work with the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and ensure that they order the right and genuine parts in terms of their specifications, then the country will have no issue with substandard quality, and our entrepreneurs will be rest assured of quality products. Yes it is true we do not have the infrastructure that some foreign countries have, but there is need to support our local OEMs in terms of financing and patronage, which of course will create jobs in the country. I have been using locally produced computer in the last two years and it is serving me well, and in am a heavy consumer of local products. Nigerians should be encouraged to do same.
We have a lot of foreign OEMs in the country doing business of selling their foreign manufactured products in
Yes you are right that the foreign OEMs do not have factories in
Government came up with a policy sometime ago for local OEMs to capitalise with N2 billion. What is the time frame to achieve this, and is the government providing any kind of support for them?
The time frame is 18 months from the date of the campaign launch, and what government is saying is that the local OEMs should look for partners that will help them raise the money. Such partnership could be in the form of merger, just like we had it in the banking industry. The issue is that our local OEMs are playing at the fringes of the same market where the foreign OEMs are in full control. So we need them to grow as well and this can only be achieved through capitalisation and merger. Any company that is coming to set up a factory in
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