Following the successful implementation of the local content policy in the oil and gas sector, the federal government is now poised to replicate it in all the key sectors of the national economy
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Aug. 11, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT
WITH the successful implementation of the Nigerian content policy in the oil and gas industry, the federal government has moved to replicate the success in other key sectors of the economy. The government is doing this with the setting up of the Office of National Content, ONC, in the ministry of communications technology.
The ONC will operate as a programme of the National Information Technology and Development Agency, NITDA, an agency in the ministry of communications technology and work closely with the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, NCDMB. This move would enable the ministry to leverage on the successes, lessons, guidelines and templates conceived and implemented successfully by the NCDMB in the oil and gas industry.
Inaugurating the advisory board for the ONC in ICT in Lagos on Monday, July 7, Omobola Johnson, minister of communications technology, said with the aggressive growth in the Nigerian ICT industry, contributing 8.53 percent to the Gross Domestic Product by the third quarter of 2013, it was obvious that the industry was a key growth sector and as such deserves the design and execution of a well thought out local content policy.
The minister noted that the country currently had the image of a continuing compulsive consumer of ICT products from other parts of the world and this needed to be addressed. Citing examples with personal computers, she said Nigerians preferred foreign brands, with HP and Dell accounting for 60 percent of approximately 750,000 pieces sold in Nigeria in 2012 while indigenous original equipment manufacturers accounted for about 20 percent of this number.
This scenario is compounded by the perception that existing local ICT hardware manufacturers produce poor quality, expensive and uncompetitive products. But rather than worry about the challenges, Johnson described them as significant opportunities for the ICT Local Content Policy. “We have crafted into our guidelines defined steps for our OEMs to recapitalize significantly so as to enable them provide significantly improved after-sales support, warranty support and customer service. We have also encouraged the OEMs to collaborate in providing these back office and front office support mechanisms so that economics of scale can be achieved and more jobs created,” she said.
In his remarks, Ernest Nwapa, executive secretary, NCDMB, lauded the minister of communication technology for setting up the ONC in the ICT sector, describing it as an affirmation of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s firm belief in the contribution of local content to the growth of the national economy.
He noted that Diezani Alison-Madueke, minister of petroleum resources, had directed the NCDMB to stimulate the participation of other sectors of the economy like power, construction and agriculture in the Nigerian Content implementation. He also credited Alison-Madueke for the capacities that had been developed in Nigerian Content Act, which can be leveraged by other sectors so that maximum benefits can be derived for the economy.
Nwapa expressed confidence that the ONC would help unlock the enormous potentials inherent in the local ICT sector, create thousands of jobs within the sector and position the Nigerian ICT companies to provide services and equipment to government, the oil and gas and other key sectors of the economy. He promised that the Board would work closely with the ONC to ensure that it took off successfully and avoid the pitfalls it experienced at the start of the Nigerian Content policy in the oil and gas sector.
The executive secretary noted that the board’s recently launched linkage programme with key agencies of government was aimed at institutionalising a platform for information exchange on ways and means of harnessing the resources of individual agencies towards developing local content and support federal government’s drive for employment generation, in-country value addition and overall economic transformation. “We observed from feedback that unless we expand the basket and adopt local content guidelines in other sectors of the economy, the nation will not get the optimum benefits,” he said.