By Chimezie Godfrey
The National Information Technology Development Agency NITDA and the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) have agreed to institutionalise the activities of the Small and Medium Enterprises, (SMEs) in the country.
The proposed agreement was revealed at a meeting between the NITDA’s Director General, Kashifu Inuwa, CCIE and his SMEDAN counterpart, Mr Olawale Fasanya. The meeting was held at NITDA’s Corporate Headquarters, Abuja,
According to NITDA’s boss, institutionalising the SME would serve as a catalyst for creating wealth and prosperity, adding that, “We have between 60-90 per cent 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.
He said, “We see Startups as our babies, while for you anybody trying to start any business you see them as your babies. We have startups solving problems in agric, commerce, education, and logistics and so on.”
Inuwa added that the world is moving to smart manufacturing whereby you can design anything on your system and print it using 3D printer.
“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 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 to include NITDA Learning Management System Online Academy, the Director General assured SMEDAN that their SMEs will be on boarded 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 at 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 the society.
The SMEDAN’s Director General revealed that they have identified about 70 youths in all the 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 required knowledge on e-learning platforms, e- marketing and so on.