ITU: ICTs will be ‘future enabler of SMEs’

ITU: ICTs will be ‘future enabler of SMEs’

ITU: ICTs will be ‘future enabler of SMEs’

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[signinlocker]Houlin Zhao, Secretary General of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has said that “the future of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) will be enabled by Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).”

For the ITU SG, “cloud computing, smart grids, smart metering, reducing energy consumption and much more will be key to the environments that allow SMEs to grow and that, in turn, will be transformed by SMEs.”

Zhao made this statement during the launch of a new report by ITU: A review of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the ICT sector, at the 2016 ITU Telecom World in Bangkok, Thailand which convened national governments, large ICT companies and tech MSMEs, as well as international civil society organisations focusing on ICT access and skills.

For the ITU SG, “cloud computing, smart grids, smart metering, reducing energy consumption and much more will be key to the environments that allow SMEs to grow and that, in turn, will be transformed by SMEs.”

According to the ITU report, ICT networks are critical enablers of the tech start-up ecosystem. ICT, including cloud computing and the rise of software as a service, has reduced the cost of innovation and market access, allowing small tech businesses to compete with established industries.

The report, which highlights why micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the tech space in particular are such important drivers of innovation and growth, points out that ICT, including cloud computing and the rise of software-as-a-service, has reduced the cost of innovation and market access, allowing small tech businesses to compete with established industries.

Technology Times files photo shows technology innovators at work inside iDea Hub Nigeria, a technology innovation and incubation centre located in Yaba, Lagos Photo by Kehinde Shonola of Technology Times
Technology Times files photo shows technology innovators at work inside iDea Hub Nigeria, a technology innovation and incubation centre located in Yaba, Lagos Photo by Kehinde Shonola of Technology Times

Small tech businesses create new sources of employment and the ease of scaling many digital technologies means that successful tech startups can grow rapidly, and though most will fail, overall job creation is increased, the ITU report says.

Tech startup founders are predominantly university-educated, a factor that could alleviate high unemployment rates among those with a college degree in many developing nations as traditional business models are failing to absorb this potential talent pool.

If nations can successfully harness the tech ecosystem, there could be significant job gains, given that tech startup founders are overwhelmingly college-educated, the report states.

ITU recommends that emerging economies adopt strategies to boost broadband speeds and enhance access. Explaining that though mobile is approaching ubiquity, ITU observes that there are still gaps particularly among the poor and this gap should be remedied particularly since low income segments stand to benefit so much from social entrepreneurship and startup services using mobile money.

In addition to broadband and mobile networks, young tech MSMEs need other critical Internet infrastructure such as data centres and mobile payment solutions, stressing that ensuring the survival and internationalization of tech MSMEs requires strong, interconnected and outward-looking ecosystems.[/signinlocker]

Elizabeth Edozie Technology Journalist @Technology Times 08077671659 elizabeth.edozie@technologytimes.ng

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