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'It's impossible to fully localise Nigeria's tech ecosystem'

Nigeria , 25 Apr 2016

'It's impossible to fully localise Nigeria's tech ecosystem'

Despite growing calls by government and regulators for the short-term localisation of several aspects of Nigeria's tech ecosystem, industry experts are unconvinced of the country's readiness.

Those in favour of localisation claim it will make services more affordable and the country's data will be better protected.

Earlier this month, Nigeria's communication technology minister, Adebayo Shittu affirmed the government's intention to stop hosting data abroad and compel its ministries, departments and agencies to host data locally.

Shittu urged local hosting companies to expand their hosting capacities in order to prevent the current economic loss as a result of foreign hosting.

The Nigerian Internet Registration Association (NiRA) has repeatedly called for local companies to embrace the dot ng (.ng) domain names in order to boost their identities as Nigeria-focused companies.

The Nigerian Computer Society (NCS) and tech startup founders have also called for more support of locally developed applications and software.

However, some tech professionals remain sceptical.

"If you look at it from the perspective that the minister, the NiRA, NCS and the startups are viewing this, you would believe that there is a subtle form of tech colonisation happening in Nigeria's tech ecosystem considering the fact that foreign companies are the ones that are dominating the various spaces. For example, out of the four major telecoms companies in Nigeria, only one is owned by a Nigerian. The situation is the same when you look at the data companies, software development companies and other tech establishments," said local tech developer Matthew Ebenezer.

He believes the inability of Nigerian tech product developers to compete favorably with foreign counterparts and their inability to obtain the highest level of certification for their products and services represent significant challenges.

Internet entrepreneur Alagboso Chibuike says Nigeria does not yet have the capacity to fully localise its tech ecosystem.

Chibuike said he has used several local tech services and most of them did not live up to expectation. "The minister is advocating local data hosting but I will never advise anyone with an important service to host their data locally because of some nasty experiences I've had with some of the popular local hosting companies in Nigeria. One of them had my site offline for about a week. Their customer services were really annoying and I lost a lot of money during the down period. Another service provider was hacked and had two of websites infected with viruses. I only had peace of mind when I changed my hosting company to a foreign one – a Dutch firm to be precise."

Both Ebenezer and Chibuike believe that for Nigeria to fully localise its tech ecosystem, it would need a realistic blueprint - one that is focused on provision of reliable and efficient world class services with the highest level of security.

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