How Google,EcoBank and MTN are Getting Nigeria Businesses Online

A speech delivered by the Minister of Communication Technology Mrs Omobola Johnson at the opening ceremony of the GNBO SMB Fair in Lagos on the 31st of October …

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imagesA speech delivered by the Minister of Communication Technology Mrs Omobola Johnson at the opening ceremony of the GNBO SMB Fair in Lagos on the 31st of October 2011

Information and Communication Technology ICT has been globally credited for changing the course of history and adding value to human lives in many ways. In practically every sphere of life today, ICT is redefining how people live, how they work and how they entertain themselves.

ICTs have increased productivity and reduced the cost of doing business through the deployment of application software that automate processes and reduce hands off.ICTs have increased the mobility and flexibility of businesses and their employees

by packing what was done on several large computers to smaller devices such as laptops, note books and smart phones.

ICT’s , through the internet, enable local companies to select and partner with companies in the international business community, going beyond the borders of their natural territories to interact,collaborate and do business with their counterparts across the globe. Ecommerce that is in itself enabled by ICTs and the internet has enabled the provision of highvalue added services at relatively low cost. The list of the transforming effect of ICTs and the internet in business is seemingly endless. Unfortunately all over the developing world SMEs have been slower to adopt ICT and embrace the advantages that

ICT offers than large corporations. I say unfortunate because of the role that SMEs play in the economic and social development of a nation.

SMEs have been widely acknowledged as being the most viable vehicle for sustainingindustrial development because they possess the capacity to promote an indigenous enterprise culture. In most developing economies, SMEs are being used as a strategy

for employment generation, food security, poverty alleviation, rapid

industrialization and reversing rural urban migration as well as a tool for economic restructuring for development and growth.

Some compelling statistics support this view. Globally SMEs provide 50% of global employment and 90% of registered businesses are SMEs. In Malaysia, in 2006, SMEs were 99.2% of all businesses, contributed 47.3% of GDP and 65.3% of employment.

In Nigeria, the statistics are similar but with some important differences. 70% of our employment is provided by SMEs but SMEs deliver only 10% of economic value added (a proxy for GDP contribution), compared to an average of 55% and 25% EVA in other

developing economies and 60% and 50% respectively in developed economies. These statistics show that Nigerian SMEs are not as productive as they can, should or need to be. A number of reasons have been attributed to this – poor infrastructure, a poor skills base, access to finance, low adoption of ICT and access to markets

amongst others.

Getting businesses online speaks directly to the access to markets challenge that SMEs have. Getting a business online ie on the internet, immediately provides access to markets (retail, wholesale, local and international) at a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising and marketing can.

There is also increasing empirical evidence that suggests that simply putting a website on the internet increases the revenue and productivity of SMEs many fold with commensurate contributions to job and wealth creation and of course contribution

to GDP.

This is why the Google Getting Nigeria Businesses Online initiative is so important and why the Ministry of Communication Technology is supporting this initiative.

The role of the Ministry of Communication Technology is to facilitate the build out of an ICT infrastructure that is cost effective and ubiquitous giving more Nigerians better and faster access to the internet at affordable prices. We are also committed

to getting as many devices into the hands of Nigerians to enable them transact business on the internet and create a demand for products and services offered over the internet. In other words getting businesses online is a key part of the agenda and policy direction of this Ministry.

The Ministry is extremely pleased to note that the Nigeria Internet Registration Association NIRA is promoting a Switch to .ng campaign, ensuring that Nigerian businesses are hosted on local infrastructure with adequate security and support. Google has already registered its presence on the .ng domain name and is by this initiative populating the .ng domain for the benefit of Nigeria.

Given the statistics that I have mentioned above and Google’s offer to get more Nigerian businesses online, I would strongly encourage SMEs to wholeheartedly embrace the internet and take that small first step of having a website on the .ng domain. Today Nigeria has an estimated 33 million internet users and we have targets

to double this number in the next three to four years. Getting your business online immediately gives you access to this market, not to talk of the hundreds of millions of other internet users out there – a very strong value proposition in our opinion.

Please join the online movement that Google is so competently and aggressively promoting.

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