I have often heard people state that our problem is not lack of policies or laws, but that of implementation. In other words, we already have sufficient laws, policies and, in recent times, executive orders that ought to have pushed our nation towards a successful economic path. That notwithstanding, what we seem to lack is both the political and moral will to executive courageously.
The decision to write this piece came up after an encounter with the Executive Director of SystemSpecs, ‘DeRemi Atanda, who I had gone to interview for my TV programme. I had already decided that the interview would be focused on discussions around how small businesses can better leverage technology to grow. Once we got talking, I quickly decided to change the focus of the interview, based on some updates he shared with me on the work that he had been quietly doing, as chairman, on two important national initiatives. This is notwithstanding the record-breaking work that SystemSpecs has done with the Treasury Single Account, using its Remita payments technology. He currently serves as the chair of two very important committees. First is the Government Flows Working Group of the Nigerian payments system vision 2020, saddled with the responsibility of transforming payments in Nigeria’s public sector. Secondly, he is the co-chair of Nigeria Content Consultative Forum’s ICT working group, which is focused on ensuring that the ICT industry takes full advantage of the provisions of the local content law.
A close encounter with this gentleman confirmed to me that, indeed, he is a visionary, an unrepentant optimist and a great believer in the fact that the Nigerian state can get back on track. He started by asking me the question: ‘What do you think is the greatest factor affecting our advancement in technology today?’ I replied with two quick answers: poor policies and lack of quality education. He used a whiteboard to explain to me that, in many cases, lack of policies is not the problem, but the fact that many of us are too lackadaisical on keying into the available policies.
During the conversation, he asked me what I knew about the Nigerian oil and gas industry’s local content law. Well, I answered that the most I knew about it was that it was meant and designed for the oil and gas industry. He responded with a follow-up question: ‘How much do you know of the ICT component in the Act?’ I responded that I did not know much. At this point, I listened as he sought to provide more details about the law and how the ICT industry has completely neglected the provisions of the law, while other industries have taken full advantage of the same law.
In his words, the Local Content Act provides for the development of the Nigerian content in the oil and gas industry. Section 69 of the Act established the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, which is, inter-alia, empowered to supervise, coordinate, administer and monitor the implementation and development of Nigerian content in the sector.
Here is the full list of services that the law identifies, should have local content at all times; engineering; fabrication and construction; materials and procurement; well and drilling services/petroleum technology; research and development services; transportation/supply/disposal services; health, safety and environment; information systems/information; technology/communication services; finance and insurance; installation, hookup and commissioning; inspection, testing and certification; project management/consulting; surveying/positioning services; modification and maintenance and shipping.
In the words of Atanda, the ICT industry has pretty low implementation largely because the industry is not coordinated and even, — Finish Reading on the Punch