Nigeria plans to build software centres

Software development in Nigeria is to receive a boost after that country’s government announced plans to build incubation centres that will train developers and assist entrepreneurs.

“Four centres are to be built in the West African country by the end of the third quarter this year” said Nigeria’s minister of communications technology, Omobola Johnson, yesterday at a training event.
That country’s government wants to help establish a healthier local software industry, as Nigeria spent N18.9 billion in the last five years buying foreign software, according to the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion.

Nigeria’s government is to set up an IT innovation fund that private companies can invest in to help raise money to build the centres. “About N750 million to N1 billion will be needed to establish the incubation centre,” Johnson was quoted in the News Agency of Nigeria yesterday.

“This plan will ensure that private sectors invest their money in this IT innovation fund, in order to fund our local software entrepreneurs. We are investing in them, because this local entrepreneur may not have collaterals to pay up their loans,” she said.

Apart from having to overcome a skills shortage and funding challenges, Nigeria and the continent face other obstacles that are preventing its software industry from taking off, says IDC analyst for software in the Middle East and Africa, Megha Kumar.

Competition from international software companies, poor Internet bandwidth and software piracy are the biggest problems facing the continent’s software industry, she says.

The value of software piracy in Nigeria, for example, was $225 million in 2010, as 83% of computer programs on PCs in that year were illegal copies, according to Microsoft Nigeria.

“Piracy is extremely rampant in Africa so that can be a real deterrent to development,” says Kumar. “Even if you have a good solution that becomes popular, if more people start adopting it, eventually there will be a pirated version.”

Kumar, though, says opportunities for developers on the continent to grow the local industry do exist as more Sub-Saharan governments set up electronic services and as mobile app development on the continent takes off owing to the high number of Africans who own mobile phones.

Source: IT – 14 Feb 2012