NITDA laments Nigeria’s N720b yearly loss to IT importation

Director General, NITDA, Dr. Isa Pantami (3rd left) and Chairman, Senate Committee on ICT and Cybersecurity Senator AbdulFatai Buhari (1st right) during the inspection tour of Nigeria’s Startups participating at the Global GITEX Future Stars Movement in Dubai. PHOTO: TWITTER NITDA

• Agency sees startups’ growth as panacea to losses
• Lawmakers promise tax holiday for tech startups

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) is seeking concerted efforts that will help the country reduce or stop the $2 billion (about N720 billion) yearly losses to Information Technology (IT) importations.

The Director-General of NITDA, Dr. Isa Pantami, who disclosed this yesterday in Dubai, United Arab Emirate (UAE) at the ongoing Gulf Information Technology Exhibition (GITEX), said the country must stop being a consuming nation but a producing one, stressing that this would prevent dumping of various foreign technologies on the country.

This is even as the Nigerian lawmakers, participating at the regional event, disclosed their readiness to ensure that the startups, which are being presented for global pitch at in Dubai, have access reasonable years of tax holiday.

About 10 Nigerian tech startups are participating at this year’s GITEX, which is the 37th edition. The startups include Coudiora, Nicademia, Beat Drone, Accounteer, Dropque, MTK e-Learning Portal, My Padi, Ward Monitor, Tattara and Six Internet of Things (IoT).

They are to compete with other tech startups from across the world to be able to win a $30,000 (about N10.8 million) investment towards developing their solution in a more commercially viable way.

This year’s GITEX, a five-day regional conference, opened on Sunday as the premier technology event in the Middle East, Asia and Africa , hosting 185, 000 visitors from more than 140 countries.

According to NITDA DG, there is a need for Nigeria to promote local technology solutions developed Nigerians with specific reference to the 10 startups in order to truly catapult Nigerian into becoming one of the countries to be reckoned with in on the global ICT map.

Pantami said NITDA has realised that “developing our ICT ecosystem but for the indigenous IT companies and for startup by offering them an enabling environment in terms of policy and laws to operate is one of the ways Nigeria can adopt to curb annual $2 billion (N720 billion) to capital flight.”

Explaining the seven areas NITDA is focusing on at this year’s IT exhibition towards developing the country’s ICT ecosystem, Pantami said the agency has come with seven agenda designed to develop Nigeria’s IT industry and curb the huge annual capital flight.

“These include promoting IT regulations in Nigeria, IT development and promotions, striking partnership on how to better secure Nigerian cyberspace, capacity building, promotion of e-government in Nigeria, showcasing indigenous tech innovations as well as looking for investors, who will assist in supporting local development of Nigeria’s IT industry,” he said.

He also added that NITDA is working with Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to ensure that the yearly estimated N37.8 billion wasted on frivolous ICT projects, especially when they abandon local IT companies and go abroad or their IT procurements, is curbed through enforcing NITDA Act that says all MDAs must get clearance from the agency for any IT project they want to embark upon to ensure those projects are implementable.

Meanwhile, Chairman, Senate Committee on ICT and Cybersecurity, Abdul Fatai Buhari, and his counterparts in Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Onawo Muhammed Ogoshi, who joined the NITDA management to undertake a tour of the solutions being showcased by the 10 startups, said they were impressed by the solutions Nigeria is showcasing this year.

“This is how Microsoft, Google, Facebook and several others of such IT companies started and as lawmakers, our mandate is to always enact laws that would support local innovations,” Senator Buhari said.

Pantami said NITDA is focusing on mobilising global attention on the investment potential of Nigeria’s IT sector and promotion of local tech-entrepreneurs at this year’s GITEX 2017 at an African Investment Forum for all participants at the going GITEX on tomorrow.

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