Nigeria’s Tech Space: A Community Not Ecosystem- Tech expert
By Bukola Roberts
Software Engineer and Sematic Web Architect, Emeka Okoye said recently that Nigeria lack certain facets to become a technology ecosystem.
He urged Nigerians to get technologically creative, as “What we have is a technology community and not an ecosystem. However, Nigeria was a leader in technology in the 90’s.’’
Okoye, who shared his view in Lagos, said: “For there to be an ecosystem, all facets have to be in place. We need to have a sustainable system where students and the technology companies are interacting with each other. For instance in technology, innovations in technology is not happening in the academia, it is happening in the business world. The business world should transfer that to the academia, which churns out students on daily basis.
“Government is supposed to use technology to improve lives of the citizens and improve governance. Citizens should be consuming local content, but as it is, that is not happening yet. Government support, not just for technology but entrepreneurship is also a key ingredient for supporting the technology ecosystem.’’
Rating the technology in Nigeria, he said: “Surprisingly, Nigeria was a leader in technology. Most people do not know that Nigeria had exploited the film technology,which India explored to greatness and (Nigeria) had churned a company like Tara Systems way back in 1992 and 1993. They were even selling soft wares that American banks were using. Even Oracle used Tara Systems, which was located in Marina. We were very fortunate that we were dealing with personal computers PCs and soft wares before the adoption arose. Then, there was no India.”
According to him, Nigerian software was already being used all over the world, stressing that Tara Computers and Micro bank software were being used in 15 European countries and some American banks.
“One of the major pointers to the success is that we had 89 banks in Nigeria, and 32 per cent were running on locally made software, which had been adopted in several banks in Africa.
“Right now, Nigeria imports £1 billion worth of software every year, which has been growing for the past 10 years, which implies that we are not meeting our local needs. So, we cannot be celebrating technology when we are not creating. We should be careful of what we are celebrating because out there most of the companies are not producing software, they are importing software to enable business, which is not a phenomenon, it is constant .What will differentiate us is when we start producing technology. The question is what technology are we producing? When Mark Zukerberg came to Nigeria, and we talked about validation, we should ask for what? Is it for using tech to solve our problems or producing technology?’’
While proffering solutions, Okoye maintained that we do not need to go to Silicon Valley to achieve this feat.
“India did it in their home with two policies: first, a policy that allowed many regions create a lot of technology institute, engineering schools, so they had lots of professionals. Secondly, a policy to allow VSat accessible, a technology that allowed an Indian resident work for a person in America. So, as they were developing software for the foreign market, they were developing their local market too.’’