President Buhari At eNigeria Affirms Nigeria’s Commitment To Grow Economy Using ICT.

President Muhammadu Buhari has affirmed the continuous commitment and strong belief of the government in using ICT as a major driver of developmental governance and economic reform plans aimed at bringing about “the true change his party had promised the people.

“ICT is strategic in driving productivity and efficiency in all sectors of the economy. Currently, almost all sectors of our economy leverage on ICT to increase efficiency, productivity and performance,” said the president at  the opening ceremony of the 2017 e-Nigeria Conference, organised by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), The three day conference with a major theme on promoting local content kicked off, yesterday, in Abuja.

Government believes that ICT is fundamental to building a new economy outside of crude oil export, said the president to an audience that include members of his government, policy makers, and ICT stakeholders.

His words: “As the most populous country in Africa, there are huge opportunities for ICT manufacturing in Nigeria. This, when harnessed, will provide job opportunities for our teaming youths, enhance the quality of  locally produced infrastructure, reduce cost of acquisition and  increase government revenue.”

The  president also expressed satisfaction with the steady growth of ICT and noted that the sector was increasingly gaining grounds as a major contributor to the country’s GDP.

“The sector has recorded huge investments and contributes over 10% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and we are making conscious efforts to see that this contribution continues to grow in the next few years.

But Buhari expressed worries that the country’s indigenous entrepreneurship landscape was being left out of the growth.  Robust expansion in the ICT sector has only further the nation’s sense of dependency on foreign skills and products. Government, he said, owes it a duty to promote local content and local patronage of indigenous enterprises with strong home-based manufacturing footprints.  He called on all stakeholders to join government in realizing this goal.

“About 80% of ICT hardware purchases are imported through local distributors of Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) by MDAs and other government establishments. This makes it difficult for us to benefit from the dividends of continuous procurement and consumption of ICT infrastructure and limited value retention within the country.

“There is, therefore, the need for deliberate efforts, both from government as well as the private sector to see to the realisation of this. I urge you to come up with viable recommendations on how we can make the country an export hub for ICT hardware in Africa.

“We have done a lot to transform our government especially in the areas of strategy, policies and digital infrastructure investments.

However, he commended the NITDA for its aggressive push at implementing government’s thrust and executive orders on promoting local content in ICT. His words: “We commend NITDA’s efforts on fostering the patronage of indigenous IT products and services through continuous engagement with indigenous OEMs, relevant stakeholders and other laudable initiatives.”

Gains on Treasury Single Account

“You may recall that on assumption of office, we enforced the policy on Treasury Single Account (TSA). Today, we are all witnesses to the impact it has made on our financial management.

 

“We have so far consolidated over 20,000 accounts, resulting into about N4.7 billion monthly savings. In addition the policy facilitated transparency, accountability and ease of transactions and payments between Government and businesses as well as Government and citizens.

Gains on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System

”Another initiative leveraging on ICT and making huge impact on the economy is the introduction of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) and Bank Verification Number (BVN). Its implementation has helped to eliminate the menace of ghost workers thereby reducing waste in the system by saving government over N20 billion monthly.

Commending NITDA

“This administration recently issued an Executive Order mandating all ministries, departments and agencies to give preference to locally manufactured goods and services in their procurement of information technology services.

“Such measures are part of the deliberate efforts at encouraging local manufacture of ICT infrastructure, creating job opportunities, providing investment opportunities as well as strengthening our currency.  We commend NITDA’s efforts on fostering the patronage of indigenous IT products and services through continuous engagement with indigenous OEMs, relevant stakeholders and other laudable initiatives.

“ICT plays a pivotal role with agencies of government such as the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) which have leaned on ICT in improving public service delivery in an efficient and transparent manner. So far, 31 reforms have been completed by the Council and these reforms are already making noticeable impact on our economic diversification efforts.

“The Agency’s efforts at enforcing Federal Government’s directive on ensuring that all ICT projects in the country are cleared by it before implementation are highly commendable. These efforts will ensure that government’s ICT procurements are transparent,      they are aligned with government’s IT shared vision and policy, save costs through promotion of shared services, avoid duplication, ensure compatibility of IT systems thereby improving efficiency across government and enforce the patronage of indigenous companies.

“In this respect, I hope this conference will come up with practical, viable solutions and recommendations to further develop local content in ICT as well as how we can best regulate the deployment and use of ICT systems to foster a digital economy in Nigeria.

“As I declare this Conference open, I thank you very much for your attention and wish you fruitful deliberations in the course of the Conference. I look forward to studying conference conclusions and recommendations.”

ITEdgeNews

Local Content Technology Fair and Round-table 2017

The event, co-sponsored by FinTrak Software, was held on the 26th of October 2017 in Abuja FCT. It was hosted by the Federal Ministry of Communications, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Office for Nigerian Content in Information & Communication Technology and the ICT Local Content Association (ICTLOCA).

The Round-table had in attendance many distinguished dignitaries, Heads of ministries, parastatals, agencies, guest as well as stakeholders from the private sector. The Round-table session was conceived by the Council of ICT Heads in MDAs in partnership with Tech Law Development services in the furtherance of the implementation of the Executive order Number 003 on Support for Local Content in IT Procurement and clearance of IT projects in MDAs as well as other institutions of the Federal Government.  The goal is to put an end to capital flight which is weakening the naira, prevention job creation in the nation and the negative impact on the economy.

Earlier in October at a media briefing in Lagos, the Director General, National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion, NOTAP, Dr. Dan Azumi Mohammed Ibrahim, disclosed that the agency has saved Nigeria N192bn in six years and secured about 38 patents for agencies and private researchers in six months of 2017. This was achieved through the refusal to approve importation of technologies, as well as services that could be rendered by Nigerians, which would have resulted in capital flight.

GMD FinTrak Software, Bimbo Abioye, was on hand to share the success stories of indigenous software in private and public sectors using FinTrak Software as a case study and he further expanded on how regulatory agencies can support the growth of indigenous firms as well as the IT sector. Though an indigenous company, FinTrak Software has a global footprint.

ED Business Development, Ladi Ipaye at the FinTrak Software Stand

 

More:

ICTLOCA is the association responsible for the protection of interest of local ICT practitioners, enforcement and implementation of the NOGICD Act and other local content policies of government on the use and deployment of indigenous Information Communication Technology products and services in the oil and gas sector and other sectors of the Nigerian economy for the benefit of local ICT practitioners.

NOTAP is one of the 17 agencies under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology established to regulate the inflow of technology in the country.

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Abioye: Financial Institutions Should Adopt Local Software

The Chief Executive Officer of FinTrak, a global financial technology company, Mr. Bimbo Abioye, spoke to journalists on the need for Nigerian financial institutions to adopt homegrown software solutions. Emma Okonji presents the excerpts:

As an indigenous financial software development firm, what motivated you into financial software business?

We were motivated by some factors. We started the business over a decade ago as a consulting firm, majoring in finance and technology consulting. As we evolved, the technology business grew beyond financial advisory, so we incorporated FinTrakSoftware Co. Limited to take over the technology consulting business in July 2013. We did this for two reasons: one is to establish a company that is very well known in the areas of software development and delivery services and also to harmonise the brand with the name for effective business communication and better corporate visibility.

You are well known in the Nigerian software and financial space, what about the regional space?

We have actually developed solutions that have been proven in the Nigerian market and they have been deployed in many financial institutions and some non-financial institutions. Presently, we have about 13 commercial banks, seven mortgage banks, five insurance firms and manufacturing firms using our software. Our solution offering comprises core banking software for commercial and non-commercial banking entities, underwriting systems for insurance companies and enterprise business process applications suitable for virtually any organisation, private and public. Also, the suite includes: enterprise reporting and business intelligence platform to drive strategic insight and enterprise decision support. There is also enterprise budget planning processing and control platform to drive strategic and operational planning processes and evaluation of results in comparison to planned corporate goals. FinTrak Software applications will radically transform business processes globally in a few years to come.

We have built indelible track records especially in the Nigerian financial services. We intend to expand this to other public and private sector organisationsin Africa and globally. We observed that most organisations in African countries invest much in software and yet do not get the commensurate value due to disconnect between technology and their business dynamics and processes. Our goal is to offer platforms that connect with their businesses. We currently have technology implementations in Nigeria, Ghana, Congo, Gambia, Rwanda, Zambia, Kenya and Sierra Leone and some other African countries.

When you say you are in these countries do you have a physical presence or franchise?

In terms of physical presence, we are in Ghana, Gambia and Kenya. In Congo DRC, we have a business partner. We intend to expand further both locally and internationally leveraging on business partnership.

Despite your track records, most organisationsin Nigeria still prefer foreign software to local software. What could be responsible for this?

It has been challenging over the years, but now, we are making considerable progress. When we started, no serious organisations wanted to touch local software especially banks and other financial institutions. Some had ‘unwritten laws’ prohibiting local software patronage. When you introduce local software to them, you would meet a mind-wall. But today, our solutions are being used in some of those organisations.

We accomplished that feat by consistently delivering quality products and services to organisations that are receptive to local options while those that are fixated on foreign options have suffered many failed implementations and poor local supports. This has positioned our products and services above foreign options.

A good case study was the adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) in Nigeria in 2012. Some financial institutions who believed that technologies for implementation of IFRS being a global standard could only be sourced from foreign countries, bought foreign solutions to solve the problem – In short, a lot of banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions in Nigeria bought these solutions and it was mass failure for them. It was gathered that over N3 billion was lost on failed implementation of IFRS solutions in the industry. One of the banks believed in us and it became the only bank that reported its financial statement on IFRS for 2012 electronically. Since then, we have re-implemented IFRS for many of these banks and other financial institutions.

What is the level of compliance with the migration to IFRS 9 on or before the January 2018 deadline?

Changes brought about by IFRS 9, affects mostly financial services industry players. We see a lackluster effort arising obviously from the challenges that financial services industry players, their auditors and regulatory bodies encountered during the implementation of the IAS 39 based financial reporting standards as mentioned earlier. Most stakeholders are adopting hyper cautious approach. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) seems to be unwilling to wield the big sticks to avoid a repeat of hyper pressure that led the banks into making erroneous choices of technical implementation of IFRS based reporting under IAS39. The auditors/IFRS consultants are afraid of advising their financial services clienteles to adopt IFRS software to avoid reputational backlash they suffered recommending foreign IFRS tools that failed woefully.

There is no viable alternative to automation of IFRS 9 considering its complexities and linkage with risk management.

What would be the implication if any of the financial institutions in the country is not able to meet the deadline?

Once you sign up to IFRS, there is no stopping, no parking and no loitering. You just have to keep moving. That means January 2018 is sacrosanct. One way or the other, organisations will comply, but how they will comply is a different ball game. It could be through manual methods using spreadsheets and those currently using FinTrak IFRS solution are able to leverage on FinTrak IFRS 9 Upgrade to achieve their objectives in terms of technology implementation. It is practically impossible to achieve full fledged IFRS 9 implementation using manual methods. Somehow everyone believes that they are doing IFRS, but very few organisations are actually doing true IFRS based financial reporting especially those using spread sheets.

How are you able to achieve competitive pricing?

This has been a serious challenge, but we are trying to correct this erroneous impression that solutions developed locally are inferior to the foreign option and as such, should attract low pricing. A typical Nigerian firm could be ready to pay about N250 million or more for foreign software that might not solve the required needs of their organisation, but for a local option, they would want to pay about N25 million or less even though, this better meets their needs. We are doing everything to change this unfortunate situation as it can potentially impact on our capability to invest adequately in research and development (R&D), recruit adequate personnel to sustain brand quality and deepen market penetration globally.

What level of security implementations have you carried out on your products and services?

Talking about security, we have among us, information security expertise holding gold standard and ISO rated credentials in Information System security. Certifications like Certified Information System Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Information Systems Auditors (CISA) and Certified Information Security Manager (CISM). These body of experts well versed in systems vulnerabilities and countermeasures have designed and built in robust security implementations to make it difficult for any hacker to break in or cause disruption of service. We have built-in security by architecture and by design to provide multi-layered defence indepth in our solutions.

How about financing?

Software being an ‘intangible’ product (not physical), has been challenging getting banks to finance software development efforts. Bank of Industry (BoI), for example, does not see software development industry as an industry they could support; instead, they are busy pursuing tailors, fish sellers and brick makers. Though, through the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), we are engaging BoI to fashion out ways of supporting the software industry, just like they currently support Nollywood. Currently, we are only able to source loans from some banks secured with our project receivables.

Do you have enough government support?

Past governments have been paying lip services to local software developments. There was a directive in 2006 during the Obasanjo/Atiku regime that all MDAs should patronise indigenous software and hardware services where they exist. Today, Buhari/Osinbajo administration is preaching ‘Buy Nigeria’ and recently, Acting President Osinbajoreleased an Executive Order to ensure MDAs patronise locally available solutions. We are hoping that the current government will muster the needed political willpower to ensure that local software firms are given the opportunity to thrive. We are also in discussion with all relevant government agencies such as NITDA, NOTAP, BPP and others.