BusinessDay

Support local software to drive economic growth, says PFS boss

The federal government needs to step up efforts specifically in the area of policy formulation and implementation in order to give the much needed push to the local software industry, according to Yele Okeremi, chief executive officer of Precise Financial Systems (PFS).

The ministry of communications technology recently declared that Information Communications Technology (ICT) contributed 8.3 percent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by the second quarter (Q2) of 2013.

In 2012, however, ICT-related economic activity contributed 6 percent of GDP, up from 5.6 percent in 2011. Speaking with BusinessDay in an interview at the Digital Africa Conference and Exhibition held in Lagos, last week, Okeremi says that as Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, is earnestly seeking to diversify its economy from oil, the local software market could have transformative impact on the economy.

According to him, government does have a big role to play in terms of creating the enabling environment for the local software industry to thrive. “When you look at government expenditure on Information Technology (IT), its huge. We do not always have to plunder our resources. We do not always have to use our resources to stimulate other economies”, notes Okeremi.

The National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) says Nigeria loses about $1 billion annually to software importation. Whereas Nigeria software industry is potentially a $6 billion industry and could surpass revenue from the oil industry, according to analysts. Okeremi pointed out that locally developed software solutions are not been adopted because of “limited success story.

 Many of the industry’s success stories are not been told. Because this not happening, the market is not responding by buying local software.

“If this is not happening, new entrants cannot be encouraged to come into the market”, the PFS boss points out. The greatest challenge for the local software industry is acceptability, according to him. “Many people simply couldn’t come to terms with the possibilities that we were presenting.

 Up till now, people still find it difficult to believe that our software could have been made in Nigeria”, he said. The quality of manpower remains a challenge for knowledge based companies in the country, he adds. PFS is a leading financial systems provider in Africa.

The firm has clients and operations in 27 countries in Africa both Anglo-phone and Franco-phone countries.

Ben Uzor Jr