Only ICT Can Raise SMEs Contribution to GDP above 1%- Shittu

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Nahimah Ajikanle Nurudeen

The Minister of Communications, Barrister. Abdur-Raheem Adebayo Shittu has identified proper development and deployment of Information Communication Technology (ICT) in production processes of products and services as the catalyst that can propel the Small and Medium Scales (SMEs) to increase its present contribution of one percent to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

He lamented that despite the fact that 96 per cent of Nigerian businesses are SMEs, compared to 53 per cent in the United States and 65 per cent in Europe, the sector contribute approximately one per cent of Nigeria’s GDP, a development attributable to several constraints which are not limited to lack of funding, infrastructure and low level of productivity.

Shittu, however, was optimistic that the country could leverage ICT to further increase productivity for it to become a critical leader in the fourth industrial revolution as declared sometimes ago in Kigali, Rwanda.

The Minister who in a keynote address delivered at the University of Ibadan School of Business Eminent Person Business Lecture Series in Ibadan at the weekend said ICT, more than ever, is now a leveler that will help transform and diversify the economy.

He spoke on the theme: Maximizing The Potentials of The Telecommunications Industry For Reversing Recession and The Economic Growth of Nigeria.

According to him, the pervasiveness of technology in terms of transforming the way economic activity is organized, suggest that ICT and telecoms have features of general purpose technology, adding that the digital economy holds potential for entrepreneurs and small and medium –scale entrepreneurs (SMEs).

He said, ”New digital tends such as cloud computing, mobile web services, bid data, smart grid and social media, are radically changing the business landscape, reshaping the nature of work, the boundaries of enterprises and the responsibilities of business leaders”.

Given its immense contribution to the growth of the economy and the fact that ICT is an enabler for all the sectors of the economy, the present administration, he said, will continue to explore ways of maximizing the potentials of the telecoms and ICT, for reversing the recession and the economic growth of Nigeria.

“Diversification of Nigeria’s economy into various sectors is not enough to take the country out of recession, until the process is done by leveraging on ICT in an effective and efficient manner to be driven by a Digital Government Strategy that aims to deliver: Government Modernization, Greater Value for Citizens and Businesses and Transparency & Open Government”.

“The country is presently in recession, but it is not because we are in it that we are concerned. We are concerned because each time there is a sharp drop in prices, we enter into a recession and we want to make sure that this cycle does not continue and the only way we can do so is to diversify the economy by leveraging on ICT and move the economy from being resource-based, which it has been since independence”, he stressed, promising that, “ the Ministry of Communications is determined to making sure that the country break away from the cycle”.

Revealing that the present administration under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari is convinced that ICT is the bedrock of Nigeria’s Change Agenda and development, the Minister said, having worked assiduously on setting the proper policy  and strategic environment for the development of ICT in the country, government is determined to expand its investments in ICT infrastructure and extend connectivity to unserved and underserved areas.

Change, therefore, he said, would mean a specific, deliberate and spirited reconstructive framework, for recalibrating existing policies and institutional configurations, as well as the value that underpins them.

Shittu promised that government will pursue policies that incentivize investment and promote development of digital economies, so as to be able to build an inclusive digital future for the citizenry.

In this regard, he said, attention will be paid to the issue of multiple taxation of ICT infrastructure in addition to having ICT infrastructure designated as Critical National Infrastructure and investment on the capacity and harnessing the talents of the ICT savvy youth through increased accelerators and incubators.

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