The Central Bank of Nigeria’s e-naira Project has generated a number of questions lately. The most recent is the contention that the award of the project to Caribbean company, Bitt Inc might have violated the provision of the law.
The CBN about two weeks ago on the 30th of August, 2021 announced Bitt Inc as the technical partner of the Bank on the CBDC project. Bitt, based in Barbados, was founded in 2013. The company offers a blockchain based payments platform that operates from the region.
However, the awarded contract has raised questions from IT experts stating that the CBN had violated the existing guidelines as regards IT procurement for all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). These experts have quoted the executive order 003 of 2017 as well as the 005 of the same year. Executive orders 003 and 005 of 2017 makes it mandatory for all Ministries, Departments and Agencies to first consider local IT companies when awarding any IT related contracts.
The Executive Order 005 specifically covers “Planning & Execution of Projects, Promotion of Nigerian Content in Contracts and Science, Engineering and Technology Declaration Scheme.” While the executive order 003 makes it mandatory for all MDAs to “Support for Local Content in Public Procurement by the Federal Government”.
As reported by media outlet, IT Edge News, a certain unidentified expert and member of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) spoke in Lagos about the issue. He noted that there were arguably better companies that could handle the e-naira Project here in Nigeria;
“It is not debatable. Nigeria has Fintech companies with better market capitalisation, higher global recognition, stronger experience and more capable hands than Bitt. The question is why go foreign and why Caribbean, particularly? It just doesn’t add up.”
The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) is the agency charged with enforcement of IT procurement guidelines. The agency is said to be looking into the issue as it appears the CBN did not go through the agency before the contract was awarded.
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