Nigerian companies spent just under N750 billion on software in 2017 but Nigerian-made applications got less than 7% of that colossal amount – a confluence of distrust in Nigeria-made software applications and the notion that anything foreign is better than local.
The Economist in a 2019 prediction said, “The greatest IT outlays will go on software, for which industry revenues will grow by 7.5% to $700 billion.” What share of this will be Nigerian or in Naira?
Unlike the agriculture sector, where the planting and harvest is a visible project, the procurement, and usage of software is not so measured in the telecommunications, banks, and both upstream and downstream sectors of the oil sector and other conglomerates.
For all the noise made by all Co-Creation Hubs (CC-Hubs) in Lagos and in Nigeria, plus Mark Zuckerberg’s visit, and even his investment in Andela, totally Nigerian software companies are still at best – microscopic.
Justifiably so! Because trust is not resident in the ability of local Nigerians to develop the agile yet scalable solutions needed in all these industries but the fact also is that what they engineer is better than the meagre 7% of the total – mere crumbs falling off the table.
The Nigerian Software sector may be the melting pot of advanced wonders but it is agreeable that in recent times, the software technology industry has found its way into a central discourse of vibrant sectors of our economy.
Today, we see huge figures in dollars of how much was realised in the software industry alone and how much can be made as a projective statement if we consider that there are approximately 76.2 million Nigerian internet users as of 2017, which is a 13% growth from 2013 – and expecting far more growth in the coming years.
The question of “Are we yet there?” comes to mind. The Internet is the life wire of ICT business and the knowledge of this alone says there is a huge untapped market.
Although the market is huge, Nigeria is not moving in the pace of the global players. Therefore, the rather sluggish approach to go-to-market has allowed foreign infiltration of software and ICT products, which have made the competition even stiffer for home-built software application.
What are we not getting right? The environment has always been the first point of call. As a software developer, it is understood, in writing workable software or making any technology solution, constant power supply, and fast Internet are first on the requirements’ list.
In Nigeria, these two are basic luxuries!
There is little or no infrastructural support from the Nigeria Government in unison with the knowledge boom as witnessed in the ICT space in recent times.
With intellectuals not being a feature in these climes, the few experts in the Nigeria software sector are either planning or have moved to more software-conscious countries like China, the USA or many Scandinavian countries, who seek people with this knowledge.
China, for instance, has put in place a protectionist policy to keep their home-built software solutions in their market. As far as it concerns the Chinese market, Chinese software applications are the majority. The Nigeria Government needs to take a cue to protect the local software applications, make and put policies in place to give market leverages.
The Indian Digital Transformation initiatives and application modernisation have led to growth in the software market and are expected to attract sustained investments by Indian enterprises well into 2019. Today, the India Software Sector is a giant in the Asia Pacific region, excluding Japan.
A Software Survey in 2017 by IDC shows, already, a quarter of Indian organisations have implemented Continuous Integration/Continuous Development] [CI/CD] and DevOps practices, with another 44% planning to do so in the next 12-18 months
DevOps is a set of practices that automates the processes between software development and IT teams, in the order they can build, test, and release software faster and more reliably.
It is about time the Nigeria Government joins the race. There is a need for deliberate collaboration with the private software organisations and individuals and there is a cogent need for local investment platforms as this will go along way to putting traction in the sector.
The boost and the profitability of the software sector in Nigeria in 2019 will be premised on how the government supports and puts policies in place to facilitate the growth of the sector. This goes without saying also that the practitioners in software development sector play by worldwide standards and the Nigerian programmers code great solutions.
What the sector needs is trust, which will eventually translate into more money, jobs and an a GDP increase fro the country.