The Director-general of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mal. Kashifu Inuwa has argued that institutionalising the Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs) would serve as a catalyst for creating wealth and prosperity.
The DG, who spoke while receiving Mr. Olawale Fasanya, the Director-general of the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) at the NITDA’s corporate office in Abuja, added that doing so will also contribute to the growth of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“We have between 60-90 percent of our businesses under SMEs, but operating informally. How can we formalise them so that even the government can benefit by collecting taxes and have a structure in place to capture the GDP correctly,” he queried.
Inuwa noted that most of the Startups the Agency deals with are SMEs who are also trying to solve a real-life problem.
“We have Digital Fabrication Lab in our Center (the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics NCAIR) where you can design all these and manufacture them or prototype them and do mass production,” he added.
He also announced that plans are underway to have facilities everywhere as the goal is for every Nigerian to have access to these kinds of facilities.
Enumerating some of the initiatives which the Agency is undertaking and the collaboration is into with the big techs including NITDA Learning Management System Online Academy, the Director General assured SMEDAN that their SMEs will be onboarded into some of the programs.
“We are also looking beyond SMEs today; we have what we call IDEs (Innovation Driven Enterprises) which is a process where you start with a mindset that you are solving the immediate problem but the bigger picture is to go global and Information Technology is making it possible for you to reach anywhere in the world.”
Citing the recent research conducted by the Lagos Business School on the booming nature of the Gig economy, the Director General said that as of last year, there were over 2 million Nigerians earning a living through the Gig economy who receive training and work from anywhere using IT, like those doing Bolt and online digital marketing.
Describing the roles of the two agencies as common, the Inuwa said they both exist to develop and help Nigerians create wealth through the use of IT.
“IT is pervasive, anywhere you think of today you need IT to enable it. Our lives revolve around technology,” he noted.
“This kind of collaboration is what can help us have structure to even protect the Gig economy as well”, he concluded.
Earlier in his remark, Mr. Fasanya said that they were in the Agency to intimate NITDA of their readiness to further enter into other collaborative areas that will be more impactful to society.
The SMEDAN’s Director General revealed that they have identified about 70 youths in all 36 states of the Federation who were trained on different skills, particularly on how to market their products digitally.
While disclosing that his organisation wants their SMEs to take advantage of the digital space, Mr. Fasanya said that would give them the required knowledge on e-learning platforms, e-marketing and so on.