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'Local software makers should prove they have good products'

Posted by By BISI OLALEYE on 2008/04/23 | Views: 557 |

'Local software makers should prove they have good products'


Don Pedro Aganbi, the man behind the prestigious Titans of Tech award, recently said the award was meant to appreciate the players in the industry, who had paid their dues, withstood all odds to ensure that technology in the country is taken to another level.

Don Pedro Aganbi, the man behind the prestigious Titans of Tech award, recently said the award was meant to appreciate the players in the industry, who had paid their dues, withstood all odds to ensure that technology in the country is taken to another level.
Aganbi lamented that the government was not doing much in the areas of piracy, a thing he said killing most business in the country.
While stressing the fact that Microsoftís software is not expensive because it is a big player, he added that what the sector should strive to achieve was the encouragement of indigenous software developers.

Why IT
I came into IT because of the interest I developed in Information. I was quite young in the industry. I started hearing about Millennium Bug, that computers will crash, in year 2000. That caught my curiosity as I was in the entertainment industry, producing and presenting entertainment programmes on television.

I did this basically to create awareness about the millennium bug to inform Nigerians that their computers may be in danger. I remembered I wrote many proposals to a few IT companies that were in existence at that time and most of them were really not convinced until I went to a company called Data Sciences, where I met the Managing Director, Ladi Oguneye. He accepted it as a good idea and he gave me a cheque of N30,000 at that time. It was a quite big money in 1996/1997. I remembered I had a live show at 11.30p.m to 4 a.m. from 1999 to year 2000. People called in and told us what was happening to their computers and laptops. Everybody that called, said their computers or laptops were working fine, so it didnít crash. When I came into IT, a few persons were involved in it.

Titans of Tech
Titans of Tech is designed basically to grow the sector. It has become the bride as it were. Nigerian IT sector has become the toast of the international community. We felt that with Titans of Tech we need to use it celebrate men, women, institutions and organizations that are behind the technological wind of change that is now blowing across Nigeria. Although we have had awards, but Titans of Tech is quite different. It is different, in the sense that we are saying that Titans of Tech is a feel of distinction in technology. We know the industry; we know who have done well, and popularized technology in the industry. As at that time, nobody knew the IT sector would grow this way. Titans of Tech is an annual event that we celebrate excellence.

Another beautiful thing about Titans of Tech is that we also celebrate the up-coming Titans of Tech in Nigeria. Chief Don Etiebet was the first Nigerian to bring mini computers to Nigeria. I was around reporting the sector as at that time. Also a man like late Prof. Tunji Odegbami helped to shaped the Computer Association of Nigeria now Nigeria Computer Society. His leadership quality was rare at that time.
The Nigerian Computer Society, if you knew it at that time was always moving from one level of crisis to another. But Prof. Tunji Odegbami was able to pull the association together for so many years. He was amazing. The Titans of Tech is our third edition. The IT industry and stakeholders have endorsed it and they have accepted it as their own and that is how they partner with us every year.

Between indigenous are and foreign softwares
I have ran series of shows on indigenous software and foreign software, if your product is good, people will come for it because we are in a global market. Letís look at the banks, they tell you they donít want indigenous software; we want a software that can compete globally. Now, our software developers are saying, Ďgive us the right platformí we can compete globally. But why should we lobby government? Is that done? In India, do they lobby the government, so that the people must buy their software? Securities are also there. They are wondering if Nigerians could be trusted? Can I give Nigerians my code and they will not reveal it to someone else?

They believe that itís better for someone in India to have it than someone in Nigeria. You discover that multi-national companies are careful. It is not because we donít have software running there. They do. The past governments have also come to say, letís put a seal. You must patronize indigenous software. Is that the right approach to say government should force indigenous software on the banking sector or the multinationals? I donít think so. I think the software industry should look for a way to pass the message that our product is good. I think the software industry should be an avenue to penetrate the sector, not that government should force it.

The software industry in Nigeria can form a pressure group. They can tell the people that their products are good and that the people should patronize them. But we got to balance it. What are the banking sector saying? What are the indigenous software people saying? The indigenous software people are saying patronize our products. The banking sectors are saying that can your products compete globally? The answer you readily get is yes, it can compete globally. What they want is that they should be given the same platform like the foreign software. But the whole thing is the same mentality.

Microsoft software piracy
When people say Microsoft software is expensive, what do they mean? Is it better to pirate software? Is it better to infringe on somebodyís intellectual property? The answer is No. I donít think that Microsoft is deliberately making their software expensive. Microsoft is a global player, it is huge and if you say Microsoft is playing the ĎBig Boyí itís big. Piracy is killing the business, not just the software industry alone. It is also killing the home video industry and the music industry. Somebody will produce something and another person is feeding fat on it. Some people say Microsoft likes to be monopolistic, they like to monopolize. But these are impressions that everybody has formed about Microsoft.

But I do not think it is good to pirate. We should not even condone piracy. It is wrong. My jobs have been pirated and I know how much I lost and how it feels. When I hear of piracy, I always want to see the people involved and tie them to a stake and wipe them out of existence. Microsoft is saying no more piracy, go for the real one. The real one cannot be too expensive for you not to afford because the people pirating go for the real one and they pirate. Itís possible for us to also get the real one. I donít think Microsoft software is too expensive.

Donít forget that it is the Federal Government that brought Microsoft to Nigeria. The former President Olusegun Obasanjo brought Microsoft to Nigeria. At that meeting, I remembered he told Microsoft. ďDo everything within your power to bridge the digital divide because this is our last hope,Ē and Microsoft decided to do that. They may not have achieved 50 per cent or 40 per cent of it but they are trying to contribute their quota to the development of the sector.

Future of ICT
We say we have emerging and technologies emerging markets because technology is always evolving. Technology is about innovation. It is not tangible, technology cannot be held when you think you have relaxed on technology, if you relax too long, you will become a dinosaur because something new is coming up. Yesterday, we were talking about mini-computers, today. We have our telephones as computers because our phone is now our computer.

So, all these are technology. We use the Titans of Tech forum with the theme, ĎEmerging Technologies , Emerging Marketsí to awaken the sector. We just finished the issue of one laptop per charge stuff. It did not work out because the indigenous manufacturers felt that they can do better.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.