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1.3 Trillion Naira Opportunity: Buy Naija Code

By Wayan Vota on September 2, 2009

The market opportunity for Nigerian software development is stunning, if you take a moment to look at its size. First we have Umar Bindir, Director General of National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP), estimating that:

“About N25 billion has been spent by different companies, especially the banking sector, to acquire foreign software and other forms of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) products for their operations in the past decade and this affects only the companies in Nigeria that registered their technology transfer agreements” with NOTAP.

Figuring that registrations with NOTAP are not common with small business or personal usage, Nigeria’s annual software imports is estimated at some $1billion (N1.3 trillion) annually, according to All Africa. Note that those are just software import figures. If Nigeria could transfer even a few percentage points of that spend into domestic sales, it would have a robust software development industry.

Look, Nigerians can code too

Domestic software production challenges

Yet the most recent Nigerian software industry profile from 2004, noted how far the country needs to go to capture that spend.

While there are 100+ active companies, and virtually all private-owned, most firms are small enterprises (11-50 staff) and focus on installation, customization and training of imported packages for private companies in the domestic market. In fact, the research found that there are signs of decline in development of locally-written software. The paper goes on to suggest that Nigeria needs strengthen software development practices, like Kenya is doing already, and protect local firms from imported software.

One solution: Buy Naija Code

I say that both can be achieved through a “Buy Naija Code” program started by the government but really contingent on business and consumer participation. Based on similar programs for other industries, the government should require a percentage of all software it buys to be written in Nigeria, by Nigerians, but hold this code to international standards.

Then, building on its success in this demand creating quality Nigerian software development companies, expand the “Buy Naija Code” concept to a national ad campaign, playing on national pride to excite the country with pride in its own skills. This would also offer a rebuff to those who think “419” when “Nigeria” and “Internet” are mentioned together.

“Buy Naija Code” would bring Nigeria its own software development industry that writes code, not just installs others.

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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks and is the Digital Health Director at IntraHealth International. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of IntraHealth International or other ICTWorks sponsors.
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2 Comments to “1.3 Trillion Naira Opportunity: Buy Naija Code”

  1. eblantz says:

    Building in-country ICT capacity is great, but I balk when I hear talk of governments mandating domestic code quotas. These would turn into handouts to well-connected companies and stifle, rather than enhance, quality. Better, I think, are non-governmental initiatives like the “coded in country” effort (http://groups.google.com/group/coded-in-country-launch) that Dimagi, DataDyne and others are pushing. Government support for these initiatives, and for improved training, would also help.

  2. Wayan Vota says:

    Eric,

    Maybe this is more to your liking – ICT skills building across Nigeria:

    “Minister of State for Education Hajiya Aishatu Jibril Dukku has inaugurated the ministerial implementation committee on National Information Technology Education Framework (NITEF) to fast-track implementation of IT education in the country.”

    http://allafrica.com/stories/200908270106.html