Omobola Johnson, the Minister of Communication Technology, has said that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) play a vital role in empowering Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) across Nigeria.
She made this known at a joint SME Summit held by the Federal Ministries of Communication Technology and Industry, Trade and Investment as part of the ongoing World Economic Forum Africa (WEFA) that opened Thursday in Abuja.
Two panel discussions titled ”Empowering Africa’s SMEs via ICTs” and “Increasing Access to Affordable Finance for African SMEs” of which Omobola Johnson and Olusegun Aganga, Ministers of Communication Technology and Industry, Trade and Investment were members provided a platform for extensive discussion on the topics of the day.
Other panelists include Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman of Bharti Enterprises and owners of Airtel Nigeria; Alan Marcus of WEF; Austin Okere, CEO of Computer Warehouse Group; Bukky George, CEO of HealthPlus; Shola David Borha of Stanbic IBTC Bank, Marie Francois Nelly, Country Manager of the World Bank and Eme Essien Lore, Senior Associate of the Rockefeller Foundation.
During the panel discussion, the CommTech Minister stressed that ICT could be a catalyst for inclusive growth and job creation if employed by SMEs in Nigeria.
According to her, ICT can propel a number of processes within a business and their impact can be directly increase competitiveness and profitability. By using ICTs, firms reduce costs, lower prices, increase promotion of their product, improve their product, add new distribution channels and also improve their internal processes.
Johnson, who noted that Nigeria has over 17 million SMEs also disclosed that studies have shown that ICT is useful in providing better market and organizational information and increasing connectivity within and between businesses.
In his contribution, Austin Okere, CEO of CWG boss stressed that ICT is not just important, but the driver of the Nigerian economy. He added that access to ICTs for SMEs leads to increased productivity and growth.