This Day (Lagos)

21 January 2013

Nigeria: Omatek Challenges Jonathan On Local Content Devt

President Goodluck Jonathan has been urged to personally endorse the local content development initiative of the Federal Government, and also facilitate it through various machineries, in order to sustain it.

Chief Executive Officer of Omatek Ventures, Mrs. Florence Seriki, who gave the challenge in Lagos recently while unfolding the company's agenda for 2013, said the local content programme of the federal government may not succeed unless Jonathan endorses it.

She said the call on President Jonathan became necessary in order to position the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry to be able to deliver the dividends of democracy to Nigerians.

According to her, "it is only when the President declares his full interest in the initiative that governments and Nigerians at all levels of government will take it more seriously."

The development, she said, would also make the programme to become more lively and meaningful across all the sectors of the economy.

The federal government, last year, announced plans to ban foreign computers and technology products in public institutions and schools in order to encourage patronage of "Made-in-Nigeria" computers and foster growth in the local ICT industry.

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), the government agency that is responsible for the implementation of Information Technology (IT) policies of the country, disclosed government's plan on home-made patronage. NITDA said the implementation of the local patronage scheme was to foster growth of the local ICT sector.

According to NITDA, under its enabling laws, it would be an offence punishable by law if the government directives on patronage of locally produced computers and ICT products were flouted in the emerging dispensation.

To benefit from the policy, multinational companies were invited to set up production or assembly plants in Nigeria.

She called on the Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, to make deliberate efforts to work along with the initiative and revive the local content programme in a more proactive way in order to ensure patronage of local ICT products across board.

She said this would not only take the sector to its next level but would also create unprecedented employment opportunities for the teeming youth.

Seriki said government must also set aside funds for the ICT sector which was why the Information Technology Association of Nigeria (ITAN), recently organised a forum that created opportunities for interaction between the ICT industry and the Bank of Industry (BoI).

The outcome of the programme led to the setting aside of a desk for ICT that will facilitate creation of fund for the sector's operators at 10 per cent interest rate, she said.

While appreciating the gesture from BoI, Seriki implored industry operators to take advantage of the opportunities therein.

Seriki also assured all Nigerians that Omatek would continue to strengthen its e-learning offerings to cater for students across all levels in 2013. The scheme, she said, would act as a one-stop shop to provide a platform that would ensure that ICT tools were readily deployed to schools and classrooms under a carefully structured learning environment.

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