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How Nigerian software industry can turn 18 in 2018

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Eighteen years is the age of ‘maturity’ as far as Nigerian constitution is concerned; as such, it is an age that bequeaths the citizen with more rights and responsibilities. Therefore, when we refer the Nigerian software market as turning 18, it implies the age of more value addition to the economy through acceptance and standardisation.

Based on estimation, the industry is worth over N15 billion; at the same time, Business Software Alliance, (BSA) in 2010 gave staggering statistics of $255 million lost to software piracy in Nigeria.

Similarly, what comes to your mind when you behold headlines like this:

ISPON Warns NIMC, NPC, NIS On Using Foreign IT Companies Against National Interest?

It simply means somebody in a particular government agency don’t even understand what digital footprints are or due to the knack for cutting corners/embezzlement they prefer to go abroad to purchase software. By the way, Federal Ministry of Finance, has budgeted N388million for software acquisition in 2018 budget. It is a yearly bazaar in Nigeria!

Well, we believe that every Nigerien has a duty to reduce software piracy that is ravaging the economy, because there is a strong appreciation for the value delivered by legal software. For instance, India software market, based on International Data Corporation’s forecast, is expected to grow with a year-on-year (y-o-y) growth rate of 11.9 percent to reach US$ 5.1 billion by 2018.

Thus, the Indian Software market continues to be one of the fastest growing and dynamic markets within the APeJ (Asia Pacific excluding Japan) region.

Digital Transformation initiatives and the drive for application modernization have led the growth story for the software market over the last 12 months, and are expected to attract sustained investments by Indian enterprises in 2018 as well.

Nigeria can learn from this trend, where both private and public sector organisations verticals and segments jump on the digital bandwagon. Without mincing words, this will jerk up the value of locally developed software, because there will be increased spend on solutions such as Collaborative Applications, Enterprise Resource Management (ERM) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) to optimize their business processes and enhance customer engagement.

“In fact, Collaborative and CRM applications were amongst the top three fastest growing software categories in 2017, primarily led by adoption via a cloud model (consumed as Software-as-a-Service),” says Sandeep Kumar Sharma, Associate Research Manager (Software & IT Services) at IDC India.

IDC classifies the Software market into three primary categories: Applications, Application Development and Deployment (AD&D), and System Infrastructure (SI) Software. Applications contributed the bulk of the spending with a 57.3 percent share, followed by AD&D and SI software with shares of 24.0 percent and 18.7 percent, respectively, in 1H 2017.

Also, intense market competition and the rise of ‘Digital Native’ companies have influenced Indian firms to adopt Continuous Integration (CI), Continuous Delivery/Deployment (CD) and DevOps practices increasingly in their application development lifecycle. Nigeria can learn from this and not over dependent on foreign vendors who deploy software which, one time President of the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria, Chris Uwaje, called ‘rat poisons’.

A Software Survey in 2017 by IDC shows, already, a quarter of Indian organizations have implemented CI/CD and DevOps practices, with another 44 percent planning to do so in the next 12-18 months.

In 1H 2017, there was an increasing thrust on security software as well (second fastest growing software market in the country) as organizations had to contend with the evolving threat landscape (especially with attacks such as WannaCry and Petya) and a rise in awareness of the criticality of security to allay business risk.

“Security software investments are being contemplated with an increasing level of intensity by a large section of Indian enterprises. This was indicated by sustained investments in several security software categories such as End Point Security, Identity & Access Management, and Messaging Security,” adds Sharma.

IDC estimates that the IT Software market will advance at a CAGR of 13.8 percent (for the period 2016-2021) to reach US$ 7.7 billion by the end of 2021.

Move ahead, Nigeria should start thinking along the path of software development clusters. For instance, to develop the kind of software that will assist Aba fashion designers to take their products online requires optimum understanding of the market and the fashion designers. It is a cultural thing. Software respects culture. Most of the application developed in the market seemed not to understand this. It will also be a disservice to both the developer and the society to deploy such software in Yaba, Lagos, which is an educational hub of the State.

The Ministry of Communications led by Mr. Adebayo Shittu, has its work cut out big time. During the SystemSpecs (remita) impass, we saw the Ministry lacking in all front, especially in protecting the software company. What the Ministry needed to do was to explain to the Nigerian senate how things like this work. But, the Ministry stayed aloof. That is not how to build a robust local content!

Country like China has a protectionist policy and they are ready to draw blood to keep their own solutions in the majority. In fact, they push their products abroad. We may not necessarily go the Chinese way, because 100% local content is not workable, we need to cut the trend on foreign software being treasured more than the locally grown solutions. International standard remains same across board and Nigerian software developers are aware of this.

The current administration- Ministry of Communications has to show more seriousness and commitment to the growth of this industry in 2018. The era of lip service should end with 2017!

All relevant stakeholders: the Computer Professionals (Registration Council of Nigeria) CPN; Nigeria Computer Society must rally round agencies like the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) while other relevant associations such as the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigerian must step up pressure and advocacy.

The private sector like the financial institutions can boost the morale of the industry players patronising them.

It also behoves of the software practitioners to stick to standards as one bad example can spoil ‘your show’.

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