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‘Nigeria’s tech space is a community, not an ecosystem’

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Software Engineer and Sematic Web Architect, Emeka Okoye.

For a country to have a tech ecosystem certain facets have to be in place, which are evidently lacking in Nigeria, according to Software Engineer and Sematic Web Architect, Emeka Okoye.

As a result, he urged Nigerians to get technologically creative, as “what we have is a tech community not an ecosystem. However, Nigeria was a leader in technology in nineties.’’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 that is already missing.

“Another is the government, because they are supposed to use this technology to improve lives of the citizens, improve governance; they 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 tech 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 India exploited to greatness and (Nigeria) had churned a company like Tara Systems way back 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, Micro bank software was being used in 15 European countries and some American banks.

According to him, “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?’’

Proffering solutions, Okoye said: “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.’’

Speaking on start-ups, he noted that these have their own beauty, stressing that they bring a lot of entrepreneurships, “it is an easy way for young ones to go into business, but it has its problems. It is a risky venture; the failure rate is too high. However, one of the things missing is mentorship, which is one of the consequences of the present issue.”

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