As SMEs make up a huge percentage of businesses and economic growth, the Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) Kashifu Inuwa CCIE, FNCS has said that digitisation of MSMEs will increase revenue by 26 percent as well as reduce operating cost by 22 percent, and contribute 53b USD to the Nigerian economy.
Inuwa stated this while delivering opening remark at TechMyBiz Pitch-A-Thon event held at the Digital Transformation Center Nigeria (DTC Nigeria), Lagos which was jointly funded by the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The TechMyBiz Pitch-A-Thon which is a process of selecting Digital Innovations in Africa started with a “Call for Digital Solutions” campaign, that offered a platform for many innovators, entrepreneurs and Startups within the Nigerian ecosystem to register their already created digital solutions, from which 30 are expected to emerge as winners out of the 50 selected for the Pitch-A-Thon event running from the 12th -14th July 2023.
The DG noted that, digitisation is about operational excellence, using technology as an enabler for business efficiency, more productivity, increased revenue and cost savings,” he said.
He said despite the available opportunities, there are challenges that need to be addressed in order to realise the potential of digital transformation in SMEs.
“Firstly, we need to create innovation-friendly conditions in our country in terms of enabling policies and laws, government services, ease of doing business, and so on.”
“Secondly, we need to have support organisations — platform that will assist to digitise MSMEs for innovation hubs around the country to incubate ideas, because innovation is a process of taking an idea from inception to impact that means you can have an idea, and you can be innovative, but that is not enough, you need to commercialise your ideas.”
“Then we need the infrastructure, this is important to MSMEs, but Africa is lacking in digital public infrastructure. Digital public infrastructure is beyond having connectivity and access to computers. The Second Industrial Revolution was about massive production which requires enabling infrastructure for transportation, but today we are in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is about digital services, therefore, we need the required infrastructure to aid digital services.”
“Lastly, is the challenge of digital skills and literacy. The digital offerings require digitally literate consumers to benefit from the services, therefore there is the need to enlighten and educate the populace to acquire digital literacy skills, ” he said.
Quoting the DG of SMEDAN, Inuwa reiterated that MSMEs contribute to 96 percent of businesses, 83 percent of the workforce and 43 percent of the nation’s GDP. “With digital technology SMEs can have an exponential growth transformation that will upscale businesses.”
In his conclusion, he expanded on the need to have a digital sovereignty through adequate infrastructure, adding that the Nigerian government through NITDA is implementing the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) to promote in-country skills to address these challenges.
“The Start-up Act, if fully implemented, will address all these challenges, in policy development, friendly environment, enabling infrastructure, innovation clusters around the country and many more.”
“This form of engagement, places the continent on the right track and together we can build the kind of environment, infrastructure, and the required skills we need to accelerate digitisation in Nigeria,” he affirmed.