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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Local OEMs boycott Microsoft, Intel

Cover story of the week:

The local Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) in the country may have commenced boycotting of placing orders on the Operating System (OS) dominantly supplied by the software giant, Microsoft Corporation and computer processor manufacturer, Intel Corporation offices in the country.

This was based on the outcome of things in respect to controversial Computer for All Nigerian Initiative (CANi) project, which most industry observers said is now ‘dead and buried’.

Also listed as ke2y bone of contention lately was the manner in which the fund for the $100 laptop per child scheme was reportedly mismanaged without local content as earlier proposed.

CANi, for instance, was a purported Federal Government plan to make the ownership of Personal Computers (PCs) cheaper to the civil servants in the country as a Government Assisted Purchase Programme (GAPP).

This, the government said was designed to expand the usage of computers and Information Technology (IT) within the country even as the same initiative was implemented in other countries of the world, including the United Kingdom, United States, Singapore, Japan, China and Egypt among others.

Thus, CANi is a public-private partnership programme between the Federal Government of Nigeria, represented by the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology through its agency, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), and two giants in the IT industry; Microsoft Corporation and Intel Corporation.

Alongside the trio, the initiative has Hewlett Packard (HP) and some four local OEMs, namely Zinox Technologies, Omatek Computers, Beta SpeetStar and Brian Computers, some banks as key participants on the project among others, until lately.

Information reaching Champion Infotel and confirmed by our investigations indicated that at least two out of the four local OEMs actively involved in the CANi project, have either formerly written Microsoft and Intel offices in Nigeria with the intension to stop their orders forthwith based on the ugly development or on the process which must have been advanced.

Our sources said that these OEMs now prefer to make their orders through the neighbouring West African countries such as Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal or even South Africa.

Equally, these actions of some OEMs in the country was intended to be a deterrent to the two foreign companies, mostly for their actions in allegedly scuttling the efforts of the government to allow the Nigerian private sector to take a bit and make its own contributions on these two projects.

“What’s happening now is that we have cancelled all orders from Intel and Microsoft, in Nigeria,” confirmed sources informed.

But, reacting to our inquiries, Intel’s business development manager for Nigeria, Mr. David Ibhawoh, said that Intel Corporation has a wonderful working relationship with its local OEMs across board.

“As I speak to you Zinox, Balogtek (Brain) and Speedstar are placing orders with Intel distributors for their processors,” he declared, adding that it is only Omatek that gets a better deal elsewhere and as a matter of fact, Omatek stopped ordering processors locally for about a year now.

“Omatek on the other hand has not ordered processor locally for over a year now as she does not patronize local channels, but she get a better deal else where,” he asserted.

However, Champion Infotel equally gathered that both Microsoft and Intel in the country, are no longer making it a secret that the CANi initiative was their own.

Hence this attitude gave rise to the resuscitation of various local OEMs initiative to drive its own brands in the market, which was virtually suspended when the CANi project was launched by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration on July 6, 2006.

Some of these locally inspired initiative included Zinox Computerise Nigeria, which came up with another branch known as Zinox Students Computer Purchase (Z-SCOP) programme and Omatek’s e-Xpress initiative.

Champion Infotel recalls that soon after CANi was proclaimed, the federal government announced the purchase of PCs under the initiative worth N1.3 billion, even as the then managers, the Project Management Office (PMO) of (CANi), categorised the CANi-branded PCs and laptops into various formats such as Desktop Ultra Value, Desktop Value and Desktop Mainstream as well as laptops, costing between N45,000 and N128,000.

Mr. Soji Romeo, Director of PMO also said that the main thrust of the programme is not a mere provision of PCs to the citizenry but to instil Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in their daily existence.

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