A Profile of Nigeria's Software Industry

H. Abimbola Soriyan and R. Heeks


This paper reports a survey of Nigeria's software industry - an industry that has been disappointingly neglected to date in work on software in developing countries, despite Nigeria's size and both economic and political importance. The survey found there are more than 100 firms active in the industry, principally clustered around the South-West of the country and virtually all private-owned. Most firms are small enterprises (11-50 staff) and most professional staff have at least a first degree. Customers are drawn almost exclusively from the private sector and from the domestic market: software exports are few and far between. The majority of work focuses on providing services - such as installation, customisation and training - related to imported packages, and there are signs of decline in development of locally-written software. Strategic analysis of the industry according to Heeks' quadrant model shows that Nigeria needs to bolster such local development work. For this to happen, firms must target market segments with some degree of protection from imports. They must also strengthen their software development practices, something that will be partly dependent on improvements in the provision of software education by local universities.

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Educator's guide

Synopsis questions

  1. Summarise the profile of the Nigerian software industry [parts A-C]
  2. Which strategic position does the Nigerian software industry occupy on the quadrant model? [part D]

Development questions

  1. Should Nigeria give priority to its software sector, or to other sectors?
  2. Can Nigeria become another "India" in software terms?
  3. If you were head of a software company in Nigeria, what strategic direction would you take, and why?
  4. If you were the Nigerian government minister with responsibility for software, what policy actions would you adopt, and why?
  5. What lessons can be drawn from the Nigerian experience for other developing countries?