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Nigeria Spends $1.09bn On Software Acquisition

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Data from the International Trade Centre has shown that $1.09bn was spent on software acquisition and importation of computer services into Nigeria in five years according to the report.

Software and computer services worth $123.89m were imported in 2016, it increased to $216.57m in 2017, $257.55m in 2018, declined to $159.28m in 2019; and surged to $336.43m in 2020.

Data for 2021 was not available on the trade organisation’s portal, but experts have been vocal against the nation’s huge reliance on foreign software.

In a report, the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion said software constituted about 70 per cent of the nation’s technological import. According to the Nigerian Communications Commission, 77 per cent of software in use was foreign, and only 23 per cent was locally sourced.

It is estimated that telecommunication firms spend about $250m on network software licensing. The National Policy for the Promotion of Indigenous Content in the Nigerian Communications Sector, said, “There is sufficient capacity for the indigenous development of this 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 the services focus area.”

While the nation continues to rely on foreign software, its software developer population has witnessed growth. In 2021, it grew by six per cent to hit 84,000 according to a report by Google.

The report disclosed that most of these developers work in android and web app development. It added that while local startups were responsible for hiring more than half of these developers, about 38 per cent of them were now remotely working for at least one company based outside of Africa.

It stated, “Increased global demand for remote tech talent, which was accelerated by the pandemic, created more remote employment opportunities for African developers. Finally, local businesses increased their use of the Internet and hired developers to help them grow their businesses online.

“More African developers are getting full-time jobs due to both the rise in demand from local startups and the global demand for remote technical talent. Nigeria’s professional developer population had the largest magnitude growth of any African country during this time, with an estimated 5,000 new professional software developers in 2021.”

Commenting on the trend in foreign software usage, the Senior Partner, e86 Limited, Olugbenga Odeyemi, said, “I think the starting point is to find out those who are still importing software and their interest in doing that.

“By now, it should be clear to everyone that Nigeria has the best hands in the software industry. This is very clear when you look at the startup space and when you consider how tech giants like Microsoft, Twitter, Google, and Amazon have recently turned to Nigeria to hire software engineers.

“Anyone still relying on importing software is either unaware of the developments in the Nigerian tech space or is doing so for other interests. The National Data Repository, a tool used by the Nigerian government, CDC, PEPFAR, and USAID to measure the progress of healthcare interventions in Nigeria was built by Nigerian developers and is currently being managed by Nigerians.

“Nigeria Medical Records System, the Nigerian implementation of the Open Medical Records System, was built by Nigerians in Nigeria. A tool that has now been deployed in medical facilities across the country. Need I mention all the startups that are doing amazing stuff and are all led by Nigerian software engineers.”

He added that as with everything else in the nation, the ecosystem had grown with little or no support or help from the government. He stated that there was a need for the nation to tap into the pool of talents that it had.

He concluded, “Governments at all levels should seek support and solutions from the startup ecosystem in Nigeria. There’s so much that we can do within the country.

“If we don’t appreciate our own, we can see how international tech companies are swooping in to take away some of our experienced hands. It can only get better for software engineers as the demand will continue to go up.”

Source: Punch.

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