VENTURES AFRICA – To improve the use of “Made in Nigeria” products, the Federal Government of Nigeria has made the move to oust the use of foreign computers and technology products in public institutions. Thus, making it an offence to use foreign IT products in public institutions. This development was revealed on Tuesday at a two-day retreat on draft guidelines for home grown IT hardware products.
According to the Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Cleopas Anganye, benchmarking Nigeria’s IT products against international standards will make them competitive and marketable globally.
The aim of the policy is to improve the growth of locally-made Information Communication Technology (ICT) products. Anganye, therefore declared that the accreditation of computer assembly plants has expired; thereby making it an offence for Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) if they do not patronise Nigerian IT products. Thus, procurement of non made-in-Nigeria computer by public institutions where certified local brands exist would be an offence punishable by a prison term and fine, under the NITDA Act.
The Agency Act also forbids the display and use any non made-in-Nigeria computers in government offices and for government business, where certified local brands are available and the use of non made-in-Nigeria computers in public schools at all levels.
Under its enabling laws, three key actions would be offences punishable by prison terms, fines or both, if flouted in the emerging dispensation.
The implication of this ban is that it will affect foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) like Hewlett-Packard, Samsung, LG and Toshiba. They stand to lose their grip on their grip on the country’s Personal Computer (PC) market. Local manufacturers have thereby expressed optimism on the development.
The President of the Computer and Allied Products Dealers Association of Nigeria (CAPDAN), Tunde Balogun, said, “I do not see any reason why our people shy away from locally made PCs. If you open a locally made PCs and other foreign brands, you will find the same components in all of them. We all buy from the same component manufacturer. If given a chance, we can compete favourably with the foreign brands. We already have the policies on ground that support usage of locally made computers. I think the fundamental issue militating against the development of the industry is implementation of these policies.”
Meanwhile, to ensure compliance to the law, the NIDTA boss who was represented by the Director, standards and regulation, NITDA, Inye Kemabonta, said the IT implementing agency would in the next fortnight, launch a monitoring scheme to ensure compliance by all public institutions across Nigeria.
Analysts have ascribed the underdevelopment in the Nigeria’s computer hardware market to poor policy formulation and implementation by government, as well as the attendant high cost of equipment acquisition in Nigeria.
However, to benefit from this policy, multinational companies are invited to set up production or assembly plants in Nigeria.
On the use of non- locally made goods in schools, NITDA says it will seek collaboration of the Federal Ministry of Education to ensure that the accreditation of schools and renewal of accreditation will depend partly on the establishment of Information Technology labs equipped with locally manufactured IT products.