The National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) organised a one day Interactive session with its Clients on the registration of technology transfer agreements (TTA). The one day Interactive Session was held on 12th December, 2017 at Westown Hotels, Ikeja, Lagos state. The purpose was to sensitise the Clients on the Reform initiatives carried out by the Office in line with the implementation of Executive Order 1 (EO1) on promoting Transparency and Efficiency in the Nigerian Business Environment as well as interact and obtain their feedback for better service delivery.
The event was chaired by the Director General of NOTAP, Dr. D. M. Ibrahim and attended by seventy three (73) participants from seventy (70) companies drawn from various sectors of the Nigerian economy as well as Mr. J. Oboh, one of the Reform Leaders at the Enabling Business Environment Secretariat (EBES). Other key participants include Director Corporate Planning, NOTAP - Mrs. C.T. Ojo; Director Technology Transfer Registration (TTR), NOTAP - Dr. E. C. Okejiri and some Management staff of the Office.

In his opening remarks the Director General of NOTAP, Dr. D.M. Ibrahim appreciated the Clients for attending the event and informed them that the event was organised by the Office to address issues related to the TTA registration processes of NOTAP. He noted that the Office had commenced the review of its registration processes prior to the issuance of the Executive Order 1 (EO1), adding that the order had further strengthened the Agency’s implementation of the reform initiatives and the introduction of new reforms.
He added that one of the major mandates of the Office is geared towards the selection of appropriate technologies that have the potential to transform the Nigerian economy. He also stated that technologies that are freely available in Nigeria are not registered by the Office while technologies with accompanying measures to effectively domesticate them are registered by the Office. In other words, any technology imported without adequate measures for local assimilation and adaptation amounts to dumping, hence it would not be registered by NOTAP. He advised participants/clients to regard the NOTAP registration process as a medium for technology acquisition and not solely as a remittance tool.
He highlighted some of the measures put in place by NOTAP to acquire and domesticate technology towards building the requisite national capacity as:
• NOTAP Industry Technology Transfer Fellowship (NITTF)
• Technology Story Board (TSB) initiative
• Establishment of Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer Offices (IPTTO) in Research and Academic Institutions

Goodwill messages were presented by:
• Mr. J. Oboh, one of the Reform leaders at EBES;
• Mr. S.K. Jain, Managing Director of RigidPak Nigeria Limited;
• Mr. S. A. Ogbadu, representative of Okomu Oil Palm Plc;
• Mr. K. Adebesin, representative of Hauwei Nig. Ltd.
The interactive session commenced with two presentations titled:
i. “Process and Procedures in Registration of Technology Transfer Agreement” presented by Dr. Dr. E.C. Okejiri, Director, Technology Transfer Registration Department, NOTAP. The presentation focused on the process and procedures required for registration of TTA.
ii. “NOTAP Initiatives on the Ease of Doing Business Reform Intervention: Operationalization of Executive Order 001 (EO1)” presented by Barr. (Mrs) C.T. Ojo, Director, Corporate Planning Department, NOTAP. The presentation focused on NOTAP initiatives on the ease of doing business
This was followed by demonstration of the updated NOTAP website showcasing the reform initiatives by the webmaster, Mr J. Omesili.

After the presentations, all participants were given the opportunity to make comments, ask questions and seek clarifications on issues of general concern about the registration of TTA by NOTAP as compiled below:
a) The meaning of confirmation of reasonableness of fees and its usefulness in the process of technology transfer agreements registration;
b) NOTAP registration forms should be simplified for ease of completion by applicants.
c) There exists absence of synergy between NOTAP and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) on the issue of Transfer Pricing as FIRS does not accept the position of NOTAP on matters of taxes on technology transfer fees. This absence of synergy has posed great difficulties to clients in their relationship with the two regulatory bodies.
d) NOTAP guidelines on technology fees are specific on approvable rates of fees on some services except for software licences where it is expected to be a lumpsum. The bases for arriving at the lumpsum of Individual software are not stated by NOTAP and hence parties do not have a guide during negotiation of software licence fees.
e) The NOTAP enabling Act is not in the NOTAP website for ease of referencing.
f) The registrability or otherwise of Shared services agreements are not clearly spelt out in NOTAP Guidelines.
g) The power sector usually encounters challenges in securing renewal of Certificates of Registration from NOTAP on government projects. These certificates usually expire and the technology fees contained therein are usually unremitted due to delays in payments of contractors by government.
h) There is need for the private sector to be carried along during the capacity building phase of the on-going NOTAP automation process.
i) Some services are rendered off-shore where the expatriates that render them are domiciled but the demand of NOTAP for evidence of their entry document makes registration of such agreements difficult.
j) Efforts should be geared towards ensuring that NOTAP staff do not compromises on the integrity of the Office.
k) NOTAP usually request companies to reduce the duration of their agreements to a maximum of three (3) years in the first instance even on agreements that have terms exceeding three (3) years
l) The use of two different certificates with the same information, for the purpose of renewal and extension creates confusion hence, the use of separate certificates should be considered.
m) The demand of Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN) that NOTAP approvals must have been obtained before expenditures are accrued in the financials of Companies as well as delay in obtaining NOTAP approvals pose a lot of challenge to Companies in producing their annual accounts
n) Some agreements are signed so that the expatriates can come and render services. For these type of agreements, approval of the fees by the relevant regulatory agency should serve as evidence that they will be paid but NOTAP always demand that such expatriates would have to come into the country with evidence of immigration entry stamp before granting approval. This creates distrust between the Nigerian enterprise and its foreign technical partner.
o) Some applications require change of scope after they have been registered. Obtaining approval for such changes are usually not easy with NOTAP.
p) End users have complied in the appointment of Local Vendors towards the implementation of their Software Licence agreements but the overall impact of the 40% of ATS fees paid locally have not been felt or evaluated by NOTAP.
q) Appropriate responses to critical issues seem only to be provided when the Director of TTR intervenes. This implies that there is a gap in knowledge transfer in the TTR department.
r) The hike in exchange rate has resulted in the high cost of registering agreements and Nigerian enterprises are left to bear the burden.
s) There is an observed disparity on the provision of NOTAP Act on registrability of an agreement and the provisions of the NOTAP guideline on registration of agreements. NOTAP needs to clarify the implication of not registering an agreement that is registrable.
t) There is an absence of synergy between the regulatory agencies of government whereby other agencies demand that agreements usually sent to NOTAP for approval be brought to them for review.
u) The request for evidence of remittance made on previous approval is only required during the process for renewal of agreement. There is need for the system to design a proactive measure to track remittances even from Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
v) Technology providers (Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM’s) to the Nigerian economy should have been invited to the event.
w) Awareness of the general public about the activities of NOTAP is low, hence many companies only know about the Office when they are ready to make remittances.
The Director General and the two NOTAP Directors provided answers, clarifications and explanations to the issues raised by the Clients as follows:
a) Confirmation of reasonableness of the remittable fees by banks is a part of the requirement put in place by the CBN for remittance of technology fees for approved technology transfer agreements. It is meant to keep records of how much has been remitted out of the approved fee.
b) NOTAP registration forms have been separated into sectors and simplified for ease of understanding and completion.
c) NOTAP is not mandated to collect tax as Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) is the statutory body saddled with the responsibility of tax collection. Since, Withholding Taxes (WHT) are payable on remittances, the Office only ensures that provision for tax deductions are incorporated in the agreements. However, in line with the policy of one government, the Office would engage FIRS on the issue
d) Lumpsum fees on Software agreements are usually determined by parties to the agreement on the basis of the nature and volume of the licenses. However, the Office could determine the appropriateness or otherwise of the fee using available information on related services.
e) NOTAP registers Shared Services Agreements subject to provision of the following:
i. A list of the companies in the group that share the services
ii. Evidence that the services shared are not readily available locally
iii. The sharing formula for all companies in the group.

f) NOTAP approves renewal/extension of contracts for the power sector subject to evidence of budgetary provision for the project in the subsisting year. This is to avoid repeated requests for renewal when the sponsoring government agencies have not made budgetary provision for the continuation of the project.
g) NOTAP approves offshore services only when a certain portion of the services are rendered locally to ensure knowledge transfer.
h) NOTAP does not register agreements in perpetuity as it tends to tie the company to the agreement. The three year duration is to give companies opportunity to renegotiate the terms of an agreement when the need arises.
i) Companies should assist NOTAP by reporting any case of impropriety to the Director General or EBES.
j) The request for provision of a separate certificate for renewals and extension was noted.
k) The Office does not approve technical services (short term) agreements when the expatriates are not yet in Nigeria. This is because payments on the agreement are based on per diem rate the duration of stay of the expatriates.
l) The body of the agreement requiring change of scope should be amended early so that such changes in the agreement could be accommodated during the evaluation process.
m) The hike in foreign exchange and its effect on the registration fee is a general problem which the Office has no control.
n) The registrability or otherwise of an agreement is determined by the technology content in the agreement. Since the technology is an Intellectual Property Right (IPR) asset which must be paid for once it is used. However, if the technology fee is not for remittance the agreement should not be submitted to the Office for registration. This is so because some Multinationals retain the technology fee and use it to buy off the share capital of local investors.
o) NOTAP, FIRS, CBN, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and other regulatory agencies of government regularly collaborate on issues relating to TTA registration.
p) NOTAP demands for evidence of remittance made on previous agreement during renewal so as to ascertain that the approved fee was properly utilized.
q) The exchange rate used in calculation of technology fee by the Office is the prevailing CBN official rate.
r) NOTAP will sustain and improve the publicity of its activities through the use of mass media, its official website and other platforms.

The Director General of NOTAP requested the Clients to ensure that relevant and substantial documents that could sufficiently support their applications are submitted timely to the Office to avoid delay in their registration process. He also advised them to avoid delay in responding to issues raised by the Office during the processing of their applications. He encouraged them to feel free to contact him directly whenever the need arises; Mr. J. Oboh also informed the Clients that they could also submit their complaints to EBES official website when necessary.
In addition to the above, the following resolutions were recommended:
i. The NOTAP enabling Act should be published as a separate document for easy access and the soft copy uploaded on the NOTAP website.
ii. NOTAP should involve the private sector in the review of the automation platform before deployment and provide a Client user guide on the platform.
iii. NOTAP should regularly evaluate the performance of the local vendors involved in the implementation of the Local Vendor policy.
iv. Companies should monitor and report the performance of their Local Vendor involved in the implementation of their Software License agreement to NOTAP.
v. NOTAP should ensure that adequate training on technology transfer issues are conducted regularly for staff to strengthen their capacity.
vi. NOTAP should invite transferors and licensors to participate in subsequent interactive forum to sensitise them on national laws and policies on technology transfer matters.
The event provided a positive opportunity for NOTAP to engage and interact with its Clients to sensitise them on her reform initiatives and obtain their response for better service delivery. Several useful issues were discussed based on the presentations by NOTAP which necessitated comments, questions, observations and appropriate responses were provided by the Office.