23 January 2013

Nigeria: ITAN Boss Seeks Special Fund for ICT Sector

While commending Bank of Industry for its single digit interest rate for the ICT sector, the Information Technology Association of Nigeria, (ITAN) has called on the Federal Government to set aside fund for the ICT sector so as to encourage growth of small local ICT companies in the challenging market environment

President of ITAN, Engr. Florence Seriki stated this recently while taking stock of Omatek Ventures and the road map for 2013 noted that the fund would serve as a bail out for the ICT sector battling with foreign vendors.

Seriki who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Omatek Ventures PLC said that by lending funds to SMEs in the industry at a single digit lending rate, the bank would have helped the growth of the industry.

"We have approached Bank of Industry to explain the state of the industry and BOI created a desk for the ICT industry and will fund any player that is interested at a single digit or at most 10 per cent interest rate. BOI gives concession to ITAN members on funding.

"The Nigerian ICT industry needs a special fund. There is urgent need to patronize local ICT products. That will go a long way in creating jobs across the nation. The Students PC Ownership Scheme introduced last year by the Ministry of Communications Technology is a good one. We are ready to partner with the government on that. We have the capacity for Students PCs ownership Scheme. We have a functional conveyor here. Anything can go on the conveyor. It is important that the government encourages local production if the country must survive the knowledge economy," the Omatek boss said.

According to her, apart from funding, one of the major challenges is increase in volume. "That is why we create resource centres in the Nigerian universities. Some of the students have not used computers. Government should see ICT as the major driver of the economy. It has worked in China, Taiwan, India and other countries of the world. We have many products for the students," Seriki said.

On the product line, she said that t OMATEK Engineering Services Limited (OESL) has produced the first range of UPS, inverters and solar PV panels that are one hundred per cent compatible with Nigeria's environmental conditions. The power solutions, according to her were made in partnership with China's based Kehua Group.

"The energy solutions form part of a green energy package that the Nigerian technology company is unveiling for homes, corporate Nigeria, the education and telecom sectors to address rising energy needs.

"A power system for remote base stations packaged by Omatek Engineering Services limited draws on solar energy to generate continuous power to drive telcos cell stations and support a microwave back haul installation, serving an operational radius of up to 120 kilometres. The solution is perfect for remote sites, providing a green alternative to diesel generators or grid electricity source," she said.

It would be recalled that the Nigerian local personal computer (PC) assemblers are expected to benefit from IT intervention fund currently being pushed by the Nigerian Computer Society, (NCS).

President of NCS, Mr. Demola Aladekomo during a courtesy visit to First Bank corporate head office recently said that the IT intervention fund, if fully implemented would among other things create at least one million IT-related jobs within the next five years.

He told the First Bank management that a well articulated and financially supported policy on assembly and manufacturing of hardware with incentives not just for local consumption but also for export, accelerated development of capacity for software design and publishing and partnerships with governments to develop business processing, large scale modern call centres, knowledge/incubation parks can create not just millions of jobs for Nigerians but contribute to the nation's GDP that will rival oil as had happened in other countries.

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