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Enormous Potential for Nigerian Software Industry

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

Nigeria has an unfortunate global reputation as the home of 419 scams (http://en..wikipedia.org/wiki/Advance-fee_fraud). A typical 419 scam involves sending emails to people around the world in order to extort money from them. Online scams may show an unexpected technical sophistication for a country associated with poverty, but are a sign that some of Nigeria’s plentiful talents are being turned to illegal activities rather than building legitimate businesses.

Many argue that Nigeria is missing its potential to become an African legal software powerhouse. The Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria said the country’s annual consumption of software reached US $900 million in 2006, making it possibly Africa’s biggest market.

“Nigeria stands a good chance of dominating both the local and West African diaspora in a thriving global software market,” it argues.

Production of computer software is a major income earner for countries like the United States and India.

Many argue that Nigeria has enormous potential, if it can address some common problems: an absence of software quality assurance, poor investment in software development, poor product standards and a lack of proper documentation. In short: if Nigeria’s software industry takes on board global best practice, then it is sitting on a goldmine of legitimate business opportunities.

Chris Uwaje, president of the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), told Business Day that the country’s software technology, if well retooled and strategically positioned for global competitiveness, could earn about US $10 billion annually from foreign software exchange.

He argued that developing the software industry would have many benefits for the population as a whole.

“Software has … become and will remain one of the fastest growing industries with power to enrich, and sustain national economies,” Uwaje said.

Some estimates put the world software industry and associated markets at US $1,300 billion, with 90 percent of the world’s software exports coming from the United States and Europe. Outside the U.S., U.K., Germany and Japan, the new and emerging countries within the software industry are India and China, and to a lesser extent Singapore and Malaysia.

According to market researcher DataMonitor, the worldwide software industry grew by 6.5 percent between 2007 and 2008.

DataMonitor forecasts that in 2013, the global software market alone will have a value of US $ 457 billion, an increase of 50.5 percent since 2008 (Datamonitor’s Software: Global Industry Guide).

Africa has a high proportion of entrepreneurs because people have next to no social supports to fall back on and need to do business to survive. Nigeria’s large youth population – 43.2 percent of the total – could be the driver of this new economy if used right.

Nigeria mostly imports software solutions despite having an extensive capacity in software development. If developed well, software could surpass oil as a revenue generator for the country.

According to A Profile of Nigeria’s Software Industry by H. Abimbola Soriyan and Richard Heeks, “A typical software company (in Nigeria) had between 11 and 50 customers (the average was 36 though a few firms involved with package installation had several thousand). There was a strong concentration among these customers. Almost all were private sector … There was a surprising lack of government/public sector organizations as customers (reflected above in the limited number of firms found in Abuja).”

Jimson Olufuye, president of the Information Technology Association of Nigeria (ITAN), believes that more needs to be done to support the software developers. And while on paper there is strong support for this sector in information technology policy, “In addition, we need to establish more IT parks with appropriate policies on infrastructure, human resources, incentives and business plan.”

Wahab Sarumi, chief executive officer of Wadof Software Consulting, explains the problem: “Indigenous software developers are an endangered species, abandoned by the government, neglected by its own people and bullied by the poachers from India, to whom Nigerian businesses rush to buy software applications to solve local business problems.”

Already, Nigerian software firms are offering existing off-the-shelf software that they custom package with local services. This recognizes software made in advanced countries isn’t entirely right for developing countries: and this is where business opportunities await for software developers.

But the key to success, at the end of the day, is to be the best solution on offer for the right price. James Agada, managing director of ExpertEdge Limited, believes people buy the best software for the task and don’t care where it comes from.

“If you want to sell software, the buyer does not buy the software alone, he buys the software, buys capacity to support the software, buys your capacity to improve on the software, he buys what he assumes is your mastery of the domain the software … the software must be able to compete favourably with its competitors.”

Published: February 2010

Resources

1) West Africa Trade Hub: A great resource for doing business in West Africa . Website:http://www.watradehub.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1439

2) Rogue Economics: A website accompanying the book by Loretta Napoleoni on the illegal economic activities unleashed after the fall of communism. Website: http://www.lorettanapoleoni.com/

3) Towards an African E-Index: SMS e-Access and Usage Across 14 African Countries: A report from 2006 showing how small and medium African businesses increase income with ICTs. Website:http://mobileactive.org/research/towards-african-e-index-sms-e-access-and-usage-across-14-african-countries

4) Changing Dynamics of Global Computer Software and Services Industry: Implications for Developing Countries: A report from UNCTAD on how computer software can become the most internationally dispersed high-tech industry. Website:http://www.unctad.org/templates/webflyer.asp?docid=1913&intitemid=2529&lang=1

5) A Profile of Nigeria’s Software Industry by H. Abimbola Soriyan and Richard Heeks, Paper No 21, 2004, Development Informatics: Working Paper Series. Website: http://tinyurl.com/yh25dpa

6) Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria: A great contact point for finding legitimate software developers in Nigeria. Website: http://www.ispon.org/

7) Tech Soup: A great place to meet legitimate software developers and learn more. Website:http://home.techsoup.org/pages/default.aspx

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.  

Other stories from Development Challenges, South-South Solutions:

African Digital Laser Breakthrough Promises Future Innovation 

China Looking to Lead on Robot Innovation

Digital Mapping to put Slums on the Map

New Weapon Against Crime in the South

Follow @SouthSouth1

Google Books: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=I_hcAwAAQBAJ&dq=development+challenges+october+2013&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/DavidSouth1/development-challenges-october-2013-issue

Southern Innovator Issue 1: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Q1O54YSE2BgC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 2: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Ty0N969dcssC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 3: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=AQNt4YmhZagC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 4: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=9T_n2tA7l4EC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 5: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6ILdAgAAQBAJ&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2021

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Creating Green Fashion in China

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

China is the world’s largest manufacturer (Euromonitor) and the largest clothing maker, producing a quarter of all textiles and clothing. It is a global fashion production hub, and many major global clothing brands have their products made there – whether they admit it or not.

Although most people probably do not give it a second thought, the fashion and clothing industries can be highly polluting and exploitive. The use of toxic fertilizers to boost cotton yields leaves behind a legacy of contaminated soil and water tables. Dyes used to colour clothing also can be toxic and pollute water. For people working in this industry – many of whom are women – conditions can vary widely and include low pay and high stress.

According to the Ethical Fashion Forum, “it is difficult for companies sourcing from China to be sure of fair working practices. There have been many reports of low wages, long hours, and unfair working conditions in factories in China.”

But one innovative fashion brand is out to transform the way the garment business works in China and to develop a template that could be used in other places such as Africa.

The design duo of Hans Martin Galliker and Amihan Zemp has set up their clothing brand’s studio in one of Beijing’s historic hutong (alley) neighbourhoods – narrow streets of low-rise buildings that were the traditional urban dwelling environments for generations of Chinese people. The NEEMIC (neemic.com) brand, founded in 2011, makes sustainable fashions and champions green production methods in China.

The business’s belief is that the world has enough fabric already to meet the clothing needs of the population. In response, NEEMIC makes its clothing from a mix of recycled natural materials and new organic materials. According to its website, NEEMIC collaborates “with young designers from London to Tokyo to create a particular metropolitan aesthetic.”

“We use the finest natural fabrics for a perfectly comfortable feel,” Galliker said. “We pick the finest natural materials from leftovers of the industry, recycle used clothes, and strive to order new fabrics only from certified organic producers.”

Hans Martin Galliker began as a farming apprentice in his native Switzerland, and brings a practical bent to his approach to fashion. He draws on his knowledge of farming and agriculture to create a unique eco-conscious fashion product in China.

Galliker got his start in fashion working for a brand in Shenzhen, southern China. He worked with the organic farms there, and this inspired him to explore sustainability in fashion design and ways of introducing the principles of fair trade to the fashion and textile industries in China.

Galliker is passionate about taking a different attitude to fashion: “There are many fashion brands and many of them are … meaningless,” he told the China Daily newspaper. “They do fashion which looks more or less … the same, which has no creativity and does a lot of harm to the environment.

“Growing cotton is highly chemicals and labour-intensive, which degrades the soil and pays people very low salaries. And the dyeing and colouring processes pollute rivers and people receive low salaries but have to work long hours. The whole textile industry is really bad for the environment.”

NEEMIC has completed three collections of clothing since it was founded in 2011.

“We started selling some of our designs at a boutique in Beijing that focuses on upcycling fashion. People like it and want to buy more,” said Galliker.

Upcycling is the process of converting waste material into new products (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upcycling).

And to counter any negative perceptions that organic cotton clothing can only ever be unfashionable, Galliker is out to prove it is possible to create stylish organic clothing.

On top of building the brand, Galliker also works to educate the industry and change ways. He is also setting up a branch in China of the Hong Kong Organic Textile Association (http://neemic.asia/organic), which encourages fashion designers to jointly buy organic materials. He also publishes a website on sustainable agricultural practices in China, with details on current policies on organic farming.

“It is very normal for Chinese farmers to use many fertilizers, but the environment is going bad and consumers do not like this kind of farming,” Galliker points out. “For farmers, it’s not meaningful to produce only to make money to live a decent life. It should be more than that.”

The NEEMIC operation is lean: the Beijing studio does all the designing of the clothes, programming of the multilingual websites and runs the online shopping and payment sites.

For now, the goal is to not only increase the use of organically grown materials but also to introduce the fair trade concept into China.

“In two years we want to do fair trade production,” Galliker said.

And he has Africa in his sights with his green fashion template.

“In the long term we will have many successful projects here or non-profit companies … a lot of creative force and investment so that we can help rural regions in Africa to do sustainable agriculture projects.”

Resources

1) Ethical Fashion Forum: The Ethical Fashion Forum is the industry body dedicated to a sustainable future for fashion. A not for profit organisation, EFF aims to make it easy for fashion professionals to integrate sustainability at the heart of what they do. Website:http://www.ethicalfashionforum.com/

2) Hong Kong Organic Textile Association: Its mission is to promote organic textiles in Hong Kong Website:http://www.facebook.com/HKOrganicTextileAssociation

3) Tips on how to upcycle. Website:http://www.independent.co.uk/property/interiors/the-insider–how-to-upcycle-without-much-effort-2343100.html

4) How to create a Lookbook for a fashion brand. Website:http://noisetteacademy.com/2011/05/creating-a-lookbook/

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

Published: December 2012

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.  

Follow @SouthSouth1

Google Books: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=q1KeBgAAQBAJ&dq=development+challenges+december+2012&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/DavidSouth1/development-challengessouthsouthsolutionsdecember2012issue

Southern Innovator Issue 1: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Q1O54YSE2BgC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 2: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Ty0N969dcssC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 3: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=AQNt4YmhZagC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 4: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=9T_n2tA7l4EC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 5: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6ILdAgAAQBAJ&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2021