31 July 2013

Nigeria: On the Microsoft Imagine Cup

EARLY this month, the global finals of the Microsoft Imagine Cup held in St. Petersburg, Russia. Like in previous editions, Nigeria qualified after national finals threw up Team LifeSaver, comprising four students from two universities -- Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife and Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) in Ogbomoso. The four students -- Afolabi Olamide, Oluwole Michael, Akinlaja Solomon and Adewale Adeyinka -- had competed in the national finals in the category of World Citizenship.

The enterprising boys developed an application called CardioLife, which helps prevent heart attacks by monitoring heart readings on the fly via the Microsoft Windows Phone as platform. It also provides a rehabilitation programme for stroke patients using the Kinect sensor. This was the project the Nigerian team took to the St-Petersburg finals of the software contest powered by software behemoth, Microsoft Corporation.

Though the Team Nigeria project did not fly before the judges at the contest, there are many things to cheer about this year's participation in the event. Away from previous contests when participants virtually scrounged for funds to ease their presence at the contest, it is noteworthy that this year, they got support.

The National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, Dell, Nokia and MainOne, supported Team Life Saver. That is commendable, noteworthy CSR initiative from these organizations; I salute them.

But it need not stop there because we are nowhere near where we should be in terms of global competitiveness as far as technology goes.

Thus, I want to call on the organized businesses in the country, especially those that are owned by Nigerians to think, walk, talk, work and invest Nigeria when it comes to technology. 53 years after flag independence is more than enough time to stop blaming colonialism and its tendencies to under-develop our country. The issue now is what have we done so far to ameliorate undesirable state of affairs.

Nobody, repeat, nobody will develop our country for us; only Nigerians can develop Nigeria for themselves and posterity. We surely cannot develop by continuing to purchase foreign software with billions of naira that benefits nobody here; we can only get to the next level by deliberately patronising that which is ours. It is only after we do so sufficiently that the world-class quality we pay other countries so much for can be available here. There is an urgent need to change our attitude.

It has been observed that Nigerians love their own food, even in England, US, China, and will pay any amount for a plate of home food abroad. That attitude should be transferred to other things made in Nigeria. Since there is no made in China or made in Germany eba, egusi, pounded yam or afang soup, then we can also have made in Nigeria phones, computers, etc. There is no reason why products from Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing, for example, should not be locally accepted; it is ours, and should be patronized so it can grow.

Therefore, I commend the CardioLife project of Team Nigeria to the medical business community for adoption, towards commercialisation and use in our medical facilities. It is time we grew.

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