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Cloud-based communication may be only saving grace for SMES – NEPC

FG in policy shift on C-band spectrum usage

Cloud-based communication may be the best support for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMES), the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has warned. To position the small businesses in the South-south, the Council brought them together in Port Harcourt at the Aldgate Hotel to train on the way forward. A team of ICT experts were also brought in to groom the small business owners who are willing to go into non-oil export.

However, poor education quality is said to be a huge hindrance in the ICT drive because most business operators and their workforce can hardly afford well trained experts and ICT savvy workers.

The south-south zonal coordinator of NEPC, Joe Itah, who welcomed the MSMES, said there has to be increased application of ICT to revamp export supply chains in order to meet customers’ demand. “Then new E- Commerce channels that would lead to doing business in smarter and more sustainable ways must be established among MSMES. Thus, there is need for underlined reason for NEPC to teach MSMES ways of adapting to cloud-based communications, creation and use of online collaborations, and productivity tools that induced more frequent communication, and enhanced business results.”

The south-south is the oil zone of Nigeria but the zonal coordinator reiterated the point that most countries’ dependency on oil as a major source of income is becoming less profitable to think of, hence the option to face nonoil export sector more seriously – as the second line of defense, and a clear strategy for economic diversification. “This we must all join hands to achieve by making exporting seamless, and exporting value-added products as much as we can in order to grasp a fair portion of international market share.”

Read also: Why New OPEC+ deal may be ill-timed for higher oil price

He went on: “It will not be an understatement therefore, to say that this capacity building session is timely and invaluable, especially considering the pains and sorrow which COVID-19 has placed on lives of individuals, and the lull or total standstill being experienced in economies of companies.

“It is rightly asserted that MSMES are the worst-hit as the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has caused changes in mindsets, attitude, direction, and behavior of people and organizations. As we look back to the events of early and mid-months of 2020, one thing stood out abundantly clear: that organizations must learn how to make speedy but painful decisions on how to navigate their businesses using the obvious new normal. That was because the Covid-19 crisis became a full-stop on business though it also became a launching pad for companies to invent new ways of doing business.”

In his keynote address, the executive director/ceo of NEPC, Olusegun Awolowo, said the SMES represent one of most important sectors of our economy. “It currently represents 96 per cent of the businesses in Nigeria and contributes 75 per cent of the national employment. Thus, he went on, growth in the economy as a whole and in the level of employment throughout Nigeria

“The country has abundant opportunities in the non-oil export which include agricultural commodities, semi processed products, and handicrafts, solid minerals etc. most of which are yet to be fully harnessed.

“Increases in higher level education and the existence of accessible online training initiatives are bringing digital skills to those able to access them. However, low enrolment in basic education and the poor quality of that education coupled with a lack of digital skills in curricula is segmenting digital skills into a slim share of the population, excluding most of the MSMES from the benefits of the digital world.

“As the biggest economy in Africa with growing population of young people, Nigeria is well-positioned to develop a strong digital economy, which would have a transformational impact on the country, therefore, there is need to connect tremendous economic potentials MSMES digital platform has offer. This seminar is specially packaged, and the resource persons have been carefully selected based on there area of expertise. You are therefore enjoined to pay adequate attention during the session to drive the maximum benefit that is expected of this outstanding workshop.”

He charged all SMES to take advantage of the meaningful discussion that took place in this workshop to enhance the transformation of their businesses to enable them contribute meaningfully to the growth of the national economy through their inclusiveness in carrying out their businesses on various social media platforms.