Some key players in the technology space are currently grooving in Dubai, the United Arab Emirate capital, dialoguing with the international community. A few selected startups from Nigeria that are also present in Dubai are not dulling at all; they are currently showcasing the enormous talent they got. All in the name of Gulf Information Technology Exhibition (GITEX)
One body in the Nigerian technology ecosystem that has shown steadfast commitment towards this annual event is National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), at least under the administration of Dr. Isa Pantami, the director general.
NITDA last year sponsored about 16 startups at GITEX that never disappointed Nigerians, this year they sponsored ten startups representing a nosedive in the figure. Nobody knows the reason, but the economic situation of the country is a sure bet for this.
The startups at this year’s 37th GITEX include Coudiora, Nicademia, Beat Drone, Accounteer, Dropque, MTK e-Learning Portal, My Padi, Ward Monitor, Tattara and Six Internet of Things (IoT).
These startups are not only getting the international exposure, but Nigerian lawmakers are also initializing efforts ensure that these startups, presented for an International pitch at GITEX have reasonable access years of a tax holiday.
“This is how Microsoft, Google, Facebook and several others of such IT companies started and as lawmakers, our mandate is always to enact laws that would support local innovations,” Senator Abdul Fatai Buhari, chairman, Senate Committee on ICT and Cybersecurity said.
Aside from these benefits, $30,000 million (about N10.8 million) is not a joke. These Nigerian startups are competing with other startups from a different part of the world the vast sum tipped to be an investment towards developing a solution in a more commercially viable way, i.e., for any startup that wins.
However, may not be the prime targets of Pantami, as there is another focus. The NITDA boss in recent times lamented over the quantum sum of money spent on the importation of software from abroad.
Nigeria loses about $2 billion (N720 billion) from its purse as a result of this penchant and patronage for importation of foreign software, according to reliable data.
The continuation of these importations will only cripple the Nigerian economy and would raise questions about the competencies of software developers we have in Nigeria.
As for Pantami, his goal is for startups representing Nigeria to promote locally built technology solutions at the event; meanwhile, Nigerians wait to get the complete report when they return to Nigeria.
Indeed, Nigeria as one of the leading economies in Africa should become of the frontier markets the international community could reckon with regarding technology.
“NITDA has realized that “developing our ICT ecosystem but for the indigenous IT companies and startup by offering them an enabling environment regarding policy and laws to operate is one of the ways Nigeria can adopt to curb annual $2 billion (N720 billion) to capital flight,” Pantami said.
Nigerians, apparently, count Pantami to deliver its mandate as the NITDA boss, of which the development of the ICT industry through technology exhibitions.
Pantami said NTDA has seven-point agenda geared towards developing the Nigeria’s IT industry while reducing the substantial 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.”
Besides, Nigeria has been known for incomplete projects, sometimes due to an ineffective succession plan, siphoning of funds by project managers and other hitches.
There is an annual estimate of N37.8 billion wasted on frivolous projects ranging from the abandonment of local IT companies for foreign companies, IT procurements.
The good news is that NITDA is working with Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to ensure that the annual estimated figure is curbed through enforcing NITDA Act that says all MDAs must seek clearance from NITDA for any IT project they want to embark upon to ensure those plans are implementable.
“NITDA screen of one of an MDA’s IT project conducted recently resulted in saving government N500 million. This is saved from a single IT project, and you can now imagine how much we would be saving the government as an agency if thorough screening of all MDAs’ IT projects is carried out in the country.”