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UN body lauds ISPON on software development

The United Nations Information Economy Report 2012 released on 29th November 2012, has recognized and commended the contribution of the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), which was acknowledged in the report principally focused on “The Software Industry and Developing Countries” (Chapter 1, page 5 box 1.2). This is the first time Nigeria Software Strategic Initiative received a commendable mention in the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Documentation.

In a letter to ISPON President, Chris Uwaje, Torbjor Fredriksson, Chief Analyst, ICT Analysis Section, Science Technology and ICT Branch, Division of Technology and Logistics, UNCTAD) – wrote: Dear Chris, I have the pleasure of sending you herewith a copy of the Information Economy Report 2012: The Software Industry and Developing Countries. I would also like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank you for your contribution, which is acknowledged in the Report, I hope you will find the publication interesting and relevant.

BAN Ki-moon, Secretary General, United Nations in his Remark said “Information and Communications technologies continue to transform our society. In recent years, we have seen dramatically improved access to mobile telephones, the Internet and Broadband connectivity throughout the developing world.

These trends are gradually helping to dismantle barriers towards the goal of an ‘information society for all’, agreed by world leaders at the World Summit on Information Society. Such a society depends on software. The Information Economy Report 2012 provides an in-depth analysis of software industry developments in developing countries. I commend the report to Governments and development partners working to create an information society for all.”

The 126-page report by the UN on the Software Industry and Developing Countries is not just a critical wake-up call for Nigeria, but has significantly vindicated the ISPON mission and advocacy on National Software Strategy in the past 14 years! Above all, it is an instructive directive to ensuring that Nigeria’s Strategic document of National Software Policy Framework is given accelerated approval by Mr. President and its relevant portions and enacted into an Act of the National Assembly without further delay.

Summary of the report on Nigeria software landscape is titled: “The New Software Strategy of Nigeria”. Excerpts: ‘The software industry was for a long time given limited attention by policy makers in Nigeria. As a result, the country became heavily dependent on foreign software, which accounts for more than 90 per cent of all software used in Nigeria. The new Federal Ministry of Communication Technology intends to change this situation.

The draft national ICT Policy notes, among other things that “Nigeria can benefit tremendously from developing its own domestic software industry to cater for both domestic and export markets”. There is limited data on the composition of the Nigerian Software market.  A survey conducted in 2004 estimated that there are more than 100 active firms in the industry; virtually all are privately owned (Soriyan and Heeks, 2004).

The industry was primarily servicing  the domestic private sector with installation, customization and training services related to imported software packages. The picture has not changed since then. The young Nigeria Software Industry is largely organized through the private sector and professional initiatives such as the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON) and the Nigeria Computer Society.

The Minister of Communications Technology, Ms. Omobola Johnson, has engaged ICT Stakeholders in a roundtable to discuss the Government’s new ICT vision, mission and strategies for implementation. Software development is one of the four strategic pillars of this new vision and a national software policy is being prepared by the National Information Development Agency (NITDA).

An IT Innovation Fund has been established and Government is in the process of setting up IT Parks in strategic areas. The Government’s new vision is welcomed by the software developer community. A national Software Conference and v
arious round tables have been organized by ISPON to promote indigenous software development and support services.

There are also plans by ISPON to facilitate the future participation of developers in various software technology competitions, such as the United Nations Youth Summit Awards. The institute has also established software development clubs in about 30 Tertiary institutions under the platform of the National Association of Computer Students”.

Lessons learned is that we now live in a ‘software-first world’ and Nigeria is greatly challenged  and encouraged to accelerate the incubation and development of her Software capabilities to deliver and satisfy local consumption and also engage global competitiveness. One fact remains to be propagated – that is, Nigeria has the brain power and advantage of the English language rooted in Software for create World-class Software solutions and services.

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