Angst over $2m spent by banks on none core banking software

By Chike Onwuegbuchi |   20 March 2020   |   3:39 am  

Indigenous software stakeholders have decried a trend in the country’s financial sector software consumption where banks spend as much as $2million to implement foreign none core banking software.

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek investigations have revealed that a bank in the country spent $2million to implement foreign software that is not its core banking application for a module.

Dr.Yele Okeremi, president, Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON) in his response, said that if you look at 20 banks implementing at $2Million that is $40million for just one module. “The question is if we put $20million on the table which is half of the amount are we saying we cannot get two to three Nigerian firms to create alternatives to this software.

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“If we leave our financial system in the hands of foreigners it opens us up as a government to crisis. Meaning that our financial system can be shut-down from overseas, that is the easiest way to topple a government. If anybody wants to topple any government, just shut-down the payment systems, if money cannot move from one person to another then you see that Nigerians can be very angry and if you are leaving this in the hands of foreigners it means we do not have national security.

“What smart countries are doing is to ensure that anything that is critical to their national security is domesticated.

When you look at our economy, a lot of thing is going on in oil and gas. How much have we domesticated and that is why the wealth of the nation is not in the hands of Nigerians. It is even bad for them to even have access, now we are giving them free control. These are issues that threaten national security but we don’t understand it.

“I’m not against importing software but, it is not right to import anything on a long term basis if you can do it competitively by yourself. Even when you import software it should be with the view to developing capability to domesticate it.

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He added that: “it is not going to be possible to say people should not sale foreign software except if they can prove the country doesn’t need foreign software, which is impossible to prove just as long as people can prove that Nigeria has a need for it and Nigeria doesn’t have a solution at the moment then there is room for people to sale foreign software and anybody as far as I’m concerned that derives value using software is a member of ISPON.

However, the issue about local software should not be seen as ISPON challenge rather it should be seen as national challenge if the national leadership is smart. The idea we are discussing here are even issues of national security and sovereignty.

However, let us analysis whether some of the things we have or even the ones that we are importing are things we are capable of creating for ourselves in a comparative competitive manner, if we can find comparative advantage, meaning why should we be paying millions of dollars?

Bimbo Abioye, group managing director, FinTrak Software said: “As developers of application in Nigeria, the challenge that we have is absence of regulation, despite coming up with products that are even better and have been successfully deployed where foreign options have failed still for whatever reasons operators would opt for foreign software.

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“Even for mere travelling abroad for training, it is as small as that. For technical training which allows them to go shopping and collect estacode both in the private and public sectors.

“Where under heavens foreign solutions are to be acquired, technical training must happen in Nigeria. Because our hearts bleed when we see what happens and at eNigeria 2017 I made one comment, that Nigeria ranks among the poorest nations on earth despite the abundant resources and one index that was given to us is that Nigeria is also ranking first among the most foolish nations on earth.

“Because it is difficult to expect that when you spend $1billion every year enriching foreign nations, providing employment overseas, why won’t your youths be unemployed and they are finding job in Kidnapping and other crimes and nobody is immune from that.

“Where ever foreign software will be bought for whatever reason there should be software import tax which should be punitive as high as 35 per cent. When I go to Ghana they tax my software 33 per cent. We can use this fund to develop the ecosystem and provide single digit loan for software companies in Nigeria.

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