Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Okere canvasses support for local industries

Group Chief executive officer, Computer Warehouse Group (CWG), Mr. Austin Okere, has canvassed support for local industries in the country, so as to encourage them to be the best among equals.

Speaking at the visit to the newly appointed Vice Chancellor, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Prof. Adetokunbo B. Sofoluwe, the Group Chief Executive Officer, CWG, Mr. Okere, said that local industries should be sustained to focus on areas where they have core competence.

He also said that this would avail them the opportunity to contribute meaningfully through adding value capable of changing the views of foreign contemporaries who hitherto see them as irritants.

“I believe that what we need is a structured way in which we can support local industry by encouraging local industries to focus on areas where they can best add value,” he said.

Additionally, he said that this support would enable them to be indispensible partners in the like of China recognised as the indisputable manufacturing capital of the world, and India becoming the outsourcing capital.

Okere, who was accompanied by the Chief Operating Officer, CWG, Mr. Philip Obioha, noted that this is precisely what the Computer Warehouse Group has laboured hard to achieve.

“Computer Warehouse is the foremost systems integration company in West Africa, providing core banking application for 11 out of the 24 banks in Nigeria, as well as network communication facilities for 21 out of the 24 banks,” he said, stressing that the group has offices in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Ghana and Uganda, and is a partner to many of the global Information Technology (IT) majors.

According to him, with the recent acquisition of Sun Microsystems by Oracle, Computer Warehouse Group is now one of the significant partners of Oracle in sub Saharan Africa by scale and revenue.

“As a legacy Oracle and Sun partner, CWG has won numerous awards from both companies, including OPN Award for Business Excellence and Sun Microsystems Best Systems Partner for Sub Saharan Africa. As always, our best is yet to come,” he asserted.

Although he noted that National office for Technology Acquisition (NOTAP) has done a lot in terms of protecting local industries by requiring that foreign companies partner local counterparts to develop skills and capacity as a complement in providing services to customers.

He pointed out that perhaps, NOTAP has been relatively more successful in their quest because beyond mere moral suasion, “they have the instrument of sanction through the restriction on Foreign Exchange (FOREX) approvals, where foreign companies have rushed to engage directly with Nigerian customers without local partners.”

He decried that many local companies have wiped out literally as a result of a vendor making a direct presence in the market.

“This is very detrimental to the local economy as it erodes jobs and decimates the middle class that are the very engine of economic growth,” he said.

Citing the oil and gas sector for instance, Okere said it seems to have taken an early initiative to protect local industry by instituting a local content bill that ensures that the percentage of local input in the industry is progressively increased by creating the needed local capacity.

Despite this, he said, the contribution of local content is largely insignificant, with policy, products and personnel all being shipped in directly from overseas headquarters of the oil majors to execute turnkey projects here.

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