At a compliance workshop on the procurement of indigenous ICT products and services by Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies organized by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) in Abuja recently, the Minister of Communications Adebayo Shittu said Nigeria would not be a dumping ground for foreign technologies.
“Under my watch, Nigeria will not be a dumping ground for all forms of technologies. Nigerians are good intellectually; we can also export out inventions and innovations abroad, all efforts would be channelled toward ensuring that all the local Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) of products and services get patronage in the country.”
Those were his exact words which I completely agree with. The minister is a visionary that is obviously making efforts to make Nigeria technology compliant.
The National Coordinator, Office for Nigeria Content in ICT, Mr. Inye Kemabonta, stressed the need to patronize local ICT products and services. According to him, failure to do so would not only be considered unpatriotic, but also criminal as there are local alternatives.
But there’s a twist to this good thing that makes it questionable. Forcing people to stick to “Nigerian technology” is not even a realistic option as the demand surpasses the supply too unfavourably. Granted, there are Nigerian companies producing world standard ICT products and services. But with Nigeria’s steady ascent to the pinnacle of technological advancement, shutting out foreign technology without first consolidating base can inhibit growth in a very deadly manner.
In a recent visit to the Zinox Group --unarguably Nigeria’s largest technology conglomerate -- , the Minister of Communications Technology, Adebayo Shittu commended the Leo Stan Ekeh led group and said Zinox was of world class standard that could rival any in the world.
The Minister is correct on the count of Zinox being an international standard brand. In 2014, Zinox was awarded the Platinum Partner Award by Foxconn, the world’s largest electronics contractor manufacturer.
In their report for the second quarter of 2010, the International Data Corporation(IDC) confirmed Zinox Computers as the best selling in Nigeria. Back then, it was leading laptop sales market with a 53.6% market share ahead of it’s closest competitor—HP , which was far second with a market share of 23.6%.
To be honest, the report was not farfetched as at the times, there was one Zinox laptop where five laptops were gathered. But these days, the case is sadly different as I have not set eyes on a Zinox laptop or computer for over a year now. And trust me, I see tons of computers on a daily basis.
Zinox Computers is used as a case study in this article, there are others. Omatek Computers had their field day a few years ago, but now I have not heard of them in a long while.
FACT; Many tech-savvy Nigerian millennials do not know that they can get a computer made in Nigeria.
A younger friend was asking me how the #BuyNaijaToGrowTheNaira campaign would apply to ICT as Nigeria did not --according to him -- have any solutions. After taking him on an online tour of Zinox Computers, Omatek Computers, Brian Integrated Solutions among others, is the best qualifier of the look that registered on his face.
I completely agree with Adebayo Shittu on completely phasing out “foreign technology”, but if this is to be achieved anytime in the nearest future without completely stunting our technological growth as a nation, then existing players in the sector have to be given proper government attention.
And more Nigerian companies producing ICT products and services incorporated.
Proper awareness raised around the sector and more attention shifted to practical technological pursuits as a country, like the support of young innovators and inclusion of practical technological education in school curriculums.
Until all these is put in place, Nigeria as a country is not ready to discard "foreign technology", not when we are still seriously contemplating producing pencils by the year 2018.