What is Software? And why it matters to Nigeria’s Economic Future

Software can be Nigeria's way into the 21st Century

Just 40 years ago, these following companies were non-existent; Amazon, Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Precise Financial Systems [PFS] – they were not even ideas.

The first five are American technological firms dealing in software and hardware while PFS is a Nigerian software company.

In that time, these companies have become the standard bearers in the economic world, amassing great knowledge and wisdom that makes them part and parcel of the everyday fabric of human society and living.

What is software?

As we ponder on this, let us revisit that image of Mark Zuckerberg jogging along Ikoyi Bridge. The image did wonderful things to the psyche of many Nigerians and the unknowing admission was that Nigeria had become an important destination in the software world for Facebook’s owner to visit and take in the environs. Zuckerberg also had a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, the visit was that important.

But that could not be farther from the truth. People in the know it was critically for marketing and a consummate PR stunt with Nigeria being the largest African market with bludgeoning potential. The more succinct part of the first paragraph is that Amazon is an online retailer, a business built online.

That does not mean software is not important. Actually, it is very important because six of the 10 biggest companies in the world at the moment are software + technology-based firms.

According to world-renowned consultants, PricewaterhouseCoopers, “Apple is still the world’s most valuable public company. However, Amazon, Microsoft, Alphabet [Google] and Apple are all in the running to become the first ever company valued at one trillion dollars, with analysts believing this could happen by end of 2018.”

Google is the biggest search engine in the world and now a phone manufacturer; Apple is both a software [IOS] and a hardware manufacturer – the Apple series while PFS developed the popular Reconciliation solution, CLIREC.

Software, in its most basic definition, is “a carefully crafted set of computer instructions that perform specific, specialized functions in a consistent and efficient manner,” says Oluseyi Osifalujo, Executive Director at PFS.

The buzzword at the moment is Blockchain – a technology that is so public but yet so private.

We won’t call it a disruption because the word was bastardised repeatedly and now just looks dumb. But there really is no better word for what Blockchain can achieve when fully and globally deployed. 

For the benefit of the uninitiated, Blockchain technology, also called distributed ledger technology can help the under-trodden Nigerians and their spurious bank transactions.

Blockchain technology has the intricate capability of, “cheaply verify[ing], under certain conditions, the attributes of a transaction,” states an MIT Sloane program brochure.

In Nigeria the lack of a credible identity management database has instigated multiple citizen registrations – BVN, Population, Election, etc. are some programs that have seen Nigerians waste time doing the same thing repeatedly.

Precious Omusuwe, a Supervisor in the Product Implementation and Support group at Precise Financial Systems Ltd opines that Blockchain can help overcome obstacles.

It ingrains a “Zero point of failure.” He describes this, as “Applications built on a blockchain have no single point of failure in the sense that copies of the updated ledger are available on many nodes and the failure of one node will not have any significant effect on the functionality of the entire system.” 

Omusuwe continued: “The ability to update records is taken from a single entity and decentralized. This is an added layer of security in itself. There is also no physical data centre that can be infiltrated or hijacked to alter records, whether financial transactions or individual profiles. 

“Should the ‘record-keeper’ become corrupt, he alone cannot alter records to suit his illicit motives. The principle of 51% consensus means at least 51% of the participants on the blockchain have to confirm the validity of any ‘update’ as blockchain does not have a ‘delete’ feature.”

This means that transactions made on Blockchain are privately public, which instills trust in anyone from anywhere – as long as they have the requisite approval. Any transaction can be easily seen and verified as long as the requisite approval is available.

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