There Is Need To Patronise Nigerian-Developed Software – Akinremi | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe

Small Business

There Is Need To Patronise Nigerian-Developed Software – Akinremi

IYele Akinremi
Posted: Jun 30, 2016 at 10:18 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Yele Akinremi is the chief executive officer of Precise Financial System (PFS), one of Nigeria’s most successful software development companies. It is indigenous to Nigeria and creates innovative and world-class solutions to complex problems. He tells Ikechi Nzeako why Nigerians should patronise technologies that were developed in the country.


What does your company do?

Precise Financial Systems (PFS) is a software house; we are into software business. We develop software for companies to use in their operations.

Do you develop software for the specifically needs of your clients or do you develop and sell generally to the different companies?

We do both; we develop software for the specific needs of our clients and we also develop for the general needs of the market. It depends on the situation.

How long has the company been in business?

We have been in business for 22 years and counting.

And how business been?

Every business has its ups and downs and our story has not been different. It could be a lot better but we have made a lot of progress.

Do you use Nigerian software developers or do you employ foreigners to do the job?

We are a Nigerian company and we use Nigerian software developers to do our job.

What does it take to become a software developer?

It takes little to become a software developer; you need to have an understanding of how it is done and you should go to the right place where they will teach you how to do commercial application.

You set up the company when Internet use and Internet penetration were very low in the country; how did the dream come about?

Yes when the dream was conceived, Internet use and Internet penetration were very low were very low in the country; I used to work in a bank and there were gaps that I saw; foreigners were coming into the country to sell fake applications to Nigerians and I thought we could do a better job of it. That was the reason I established the company and we are meeting the needs of Nigerians in that respect.

Most of the technologies that are used in Nigeria are foreign and when there Nigerian alternatives, they are ignored. What can be done to change the situation?

A lot of things in the country are controlled by foreign technologies and the question is: are we saying that there are no Nigerians or Africans that can produce these solutions? Let us agree that is correct without conceding, let us say we do no not have them, why do not we look for people who have the potential and develop them. What I am saying is that if want to become leaders; we need to learn to pay for it. We should learn to invest in our startups and scale them and until we do that, we will be going nowhere. Many of the companies that come to Nigeria and we celebrate them are one-room companies where they come from. A good number of them are alive because Nigeria is keeping them alive; why doesn’t Nigeria keep Nigerian companies alive? That is the way to go.

Who is to blame for the situation you have described?

There are two issues here; it is a two-way traffic; leaders have their challenges and the followers also have their own challenges. It is a vicious cycle of sorts; if I do not have motivation or see any good example, I may not have the motivation to be good. And because I do not want to be good, nobody wants to trust me to be good. Somebody needs to break that cycle and you and I have a good guess about who should break the cycle. The people who should break that cycle are the people in government because government has a lot of resources than any other person and it also has a wider circle of influence than any other person.

How do they do this?

They need to identify a number of players and choose to make them global. I say this without any apologies, why should Julius Berger be the only one doing everything infrastructure in Nigeria? Why can the Nigerian government get the equipment and train Nigerian engineers to be able to do things the way Julius Berger does them? What make them different? Why should Nigeria keep on importing software from India? Why don’t we have Nigerians and allow them to take on the challenge and develop software? We do not need to sell to any other people; we can sell to one another. If we are satisfied, we can then sell to other countries.

What is your assessment of the Nigerian ICT environment?

It is still very low and that means we have potential to grow. The fact that we low does not mean that we are bad; it means we have a long way to go and there are opportunities for growth.

What is really mean to be a technology disruptor?

It means to be a change agent; it means be the one to create change in the ICT ecosystem. What happens is many people allow change to be created on them; when you are in that category, it means that you are passive and you do not have a voice. So they instruct you on what to do. But other than waiting for somebody to come and make the change upon you, be the person to catalyse the change that you desire; that is a better way of describing disruptive technology.

What is your assessment of the environment for entrepreneurs in the country?

Entrepreneurs are basically people are able to create new things; they are people who are able to create things that are different from what used to be. The first thing to do is to create safety nets for entrepreneurs because the challenge is that those who are afraid to fail can never become entrepreneurs. We should be able to allow people to be able to fail. Failure should be celebrated rather than relegated.

Entrepreneurs in the country say that the business environment is difficult; what can government do to make the terrain friendlier for business?

The first is to implement a policy that ensures that we produce what we consume; that is the starting point. Secondly we need a policy that allows Nigerians to incubate our own. If someone says my company is small, then why don’t you create the condition that will enable me scale? Those are the things to do.

What is your assessment of the policies on foreign exchange that have just been announced by the Central Bank of Nigeria?

It is in the right direction and it is going to cause a lot of things to happen in the country. One it is going to force Nigerians to think and look inwards. It is a good start but they have not yet the policy package but it is a good start.