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NITDA pushing for two-fold agenda on local content, says Pantami

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Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) Dr. Isa Pantami said disclosed that its dual agenda local content development and local content promotion, the Agency is providing protection to local businesses.

Dr. Pantami said this while fielding questions from ICT journalists in Ibadan, Oyo State Capital, recently.

The ‘Development’ plan, he said, “is to ensure that the quality is a word class one, because there is a lot of complaints about quality of hardware and software developed as local content. So, we are working with Original Equipment Manufacturers, (OEM) to insure we develop the quality.

“We invited them for a stakeholders meeting in Lagos where I asked them one question: what do you need to make you more effective, so that you can produce the quantity and quality required?

“They raised their observations and we are working on that; and we told them that we are willing to enforce the law. We are enforcing it even now bit by bit, but the only challenge we have is that is with quality because there are many complaints by those who patronize the equipment. They gave us their assurance

“Secondly, we say a significant part of the work must be done in Nigeria, you are not allowed to import any part, hardware of software or assembling as long as we have people that can do it in Nigeria.

“Thirdly, we asked them to establish service centers starting with Abuja and Lagos. So that whoever purchases their product if there is a challenge the person would go to the service centre and they will fix it. Most of them as of now don’t have it. Therefore, if it is difficult they can come together, and establish one and simply put your desk there. So that any complaint may be reported to the officer and he would refer it to you. You can jointly come and do it. These are all about local content development.

“The second one which is local content promotion, we have been monitoring MDAs budgets, as long as we see any of their budget we ask them to come to NITDA seek for clearance, because we serve as clearing house for all MDAs budgets, when the come as one of the requirements for we ensure that certain percentage is dedicated to local content.

“So you are not allowed to import those things which can be produced locally, but those ones they don’t have the capacity to do or we don’t have it available, we allow you to import or go ahead with the project. And we established a standing committee with economic and financial crimes commission, whenever we see any breach of these laws, then we report to them, and they will investigate the project.

“Why siphon money to purchase something abroad while the country has the capacity to produce it. It is because most of them do not want to do anything with Nigeria, they want to do something internationally so that from there they would be able to get something there so that is the way they siphon money, but with that EFCC, they support us to ensure

“The essence of all that is to save government some money. Within one year through this clearance we saved over N10 billion for the government. Through that way we have found out that certain things cannot be justified. We ensure there is quality and anything that is redundant, we technically know is inserted for another mission, not the sector, we strike it out.

“There was a case where we saved N3.2 billion from a single budget and we reduced it; but without clearance, that additional N3 billion would not be accounted for”.

On digital inclusion, he said, the whole idea about digital inclusion is to make ICT available to people and give them the skill to utilize it, all the policy standards ad policies of NITDA ad all our interventions is all about digital inclusion.

“Wide area network has been provided to higher institutions, virtual library to higher institutions, capacity building centres, knowledge building centres, computer job creation, all of them are part of digital inclusion, it is all about providing facilities and the skills, to operate”, he explained.