Experts Urge FG to Follow India’s Lead and Implement Ban on Computer Hardware Imports

Experts suggest that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s government should follow India’s example by imposing restrictions on the import of laptops, tablets, computers, and servers. This approach, called product nationalism, aims to promote local products and services, enhance productivity, create jobs, and prevent capital flight. This policy is believed to align with President Tinubu’s goals for Nigeria.

Nigerian technocrats and ICT professionals propose this policy to support local companies producing these products, some of which are currently facing challenges. Mr. Chris Uwaje, a Nigeria Computer Society Fellow, suggests that President Tinubu should adopt India’s policy and require foreign computer manufacturers to establish local production facilities in Nigeria in collaboration with local companies.

He proposes granting pioneer status incentives for five to seven years to new manufacturers to promote this partnership. Another expert, Mr. Dotun Ali-Balogun, recommends that all government ICT operations utilize locally-assembled computers. This idea is supported by Michael Ikeogwu and Ayodele Ogundele, who believe that now is the opportune time for the Federal Government to implement a Buy-Nigeria policy in ICT to discourage capital flight and enhance local productivity.

Ali-Balogun suggests that the Tinubu government in Nigeria should follow India’s policy by banning the import of computer hardware that can be assembled locally. This would enhance local production, generate jobs, and improve efficiency across the value chain. Nigeria already has indigenous computer hardware assembly companies like RLG, Beta, Data House Technologies, Zinox, and Acti-Tech Limited.

Among them, Zinox stands out with a track record of successful ICT projects both nationally and internationally. Notably, Zinox played a significant role in critical ICT projects for INEC and NPC in Nigeria, as well as projects in other countries like Guinea Bissau, The Gambia, and Arab nations through partnerships.

Under President Olusegun Obasanjo, several Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) in Nigeria, including significant organizations like the Central Bank of Nigeria, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), and Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), standardized their operations on Zinox computers. Zinox also became the standard system for private companies like Shell, Chevron, and multinational corporations.

During Obasanjo’s presidency, Zinox played a crucial role in events like the 8th All Africa Games and the 18th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) held in Abuja. This directive led to increased production by indigenous computer assembling companies, improved technical efficiency, job creation, and economic growth. The move aimed to reduce software acquisition and computer service importation expenses, which had totaled $1.09 billion over five years from 2016 to 2020 according to statistics from the International Trade Centre.

The import value of software and computer services in Nigeria increased from $123.89 million in 2016 to $336.43 million in 2020, with some fluctuations in between. Indigenous ICT companies have shown strong capabilities in software and hardware engineering, leading to increased interest from multinational companies like Microsoft, Oracle, Google, and IBM in recruiting young Nigerian talent.

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