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Many indigenous software developers wink in the dark- Dr. Okeremi

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Majority of people in Government perceive indigenous software developers as “comedians”. With that mindset, the supposed incentives and investments on capacity development for indigenous software developers to thrive come sparingly.

On the flip side, successful indigenous developers are not telling their compelling and convincing stories to the wider society and the market at large.

This narrative must change for the country to harness the potentials of the indigenous software industry, the President of the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON) Dr. Yele Okeremi said in an interview with TechEconomy.ng.

He described some of the challenges faced in the industry as “self-fulfilling prophesies” emanating from negative mindsets on the potency or not of the locally developed software to solve critical software-related issues.

In Dr. Okeremi’s words, “Because they have refused to develop the capacity of these indigenous developers they (government and private entities) blockade the avenues to national development. So, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy- you hear things like, ‘oh, don’t mind them. Nigerian software developers can’t deliver’. With that mind-set, they can’t invest in the developers.

“Eventually, something happens and they have need to resort to the indigenous developers; but because you have neither believed nor invested in the capacity building of these developers, who do you think they will deliver. It is like in football or any other sports- if the players fail to practice they cannot deliver! The reason they couldn’t deliver is because of self-fulfilling prophecy. You prophesised on them- ‘you are unproductive’. So, this cycle needs to be broken.

How to break the cycle

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He suggested to two ways to break the cycle. “From the demand or/and supply sides. On the demand side, you go telling people, ‘buy Nigerian software’. The question should be, ‘why should they buy’? We do not really have much control over them. But we can talk to ourselves as practitioners and say, ‘guys’ let’s do certain things differently.

“When we can assure ourselves that if you do the right things results are guaranteed, everybody will fall in line.

“On the other hand, you hear people proclaim, ‘Nigerian software are not good’. That is a lie. The issue is that we haven’t told our stories well enough. That is where we need the cooperation of the media. There are many success stories that nobody have talked about them. The reason, again, is because of the upbringing of the intellectuals. Many have been trained, ‘oh, don’t talk about yourself’. But then, empty barrels make the loudest noise. So, we have people winking in the dark.

Developers wink in the dark

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“Many successful indigenous software developers”, Dr. Okeremi continued, “wink in the dark. Even though they are winking, but no other person is aware they are there. We need to let these stories come to the fore; at that point, people will see they are authentic stories. That way, people begin to ask questions- can it be true? Is it 100% Nigerian? What is one of the best approaches to change the idea that ‘Nigerian software are not good’.

“When that virtual cycle is created those on the demand side would trust us and assign projects to us. By that we get developed and solve our peculiar problems as a country and extend to helping other countries. So, you see software can actually be our foreign exchange earner as a country”.

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