With the rising levels of unemployment and under-capacity utilisation in the country, one model that has been identified as critical in addressing the challenges is the application of Information and Communication Technology to the day-to-day life processes.
These applications cut across direct use of ICTs by the citizenry and the opportunities and benefits ICTs provide to empower people.
In as much as the current government is making efforts to build structures that will drive this motive, players in the private sector also have key roles to play to make this dream realisable.
One segment that had enjoyed good attention in this light, is the Small and Medium Enterprise of business establishments.
Speaking at the first Annual Electronic Commerce Conference hosted in Lagos recently, the Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, said ICT was a catalyst for economic growth in Nigeria, and one area that had proven its worth is the e-Commerce ecosystem.
The sector, she argued, had the capacity to significantly extend the reach of wholesale and retail trade in the country, leading to accelerated economic growth and job creation.
According to her, using ICTs to build capacities in business is very unique and key as it can bring together many sectors and players, all working for economic gains. Citing the e-Commerce model, she said one transaction had the potential of adding value to participating entities in the wholesale and retail trade sector, financial services sector, transport sector, postal sector and telecoms sector.
These, however, according to the Minister, were some of the areas businesses and people could be directly impacted courtesy ICTs. Players in the ICT sector, sometimes, leverage on their Corporate Social Responsibility programme to indirectly impact lives of the citizenry as well as businesses.
A recent development in this regard is the Business Next Titan Reality TV Show put together by telecoms operator, MTN Nigeria.
The show is seen by many as an attempt to encourage entrepreneurship among Nigerian youths with the goal of reducing unemployment in the country.
The event attracted the best minds in Nigeria, including professionals, entrepreneurs and trailblazers in commerce and other sectors.
Commenting on the initiative, the Chief Enterprise Solution Officer, MTN, Mr. Babatunde Osho, said belief in the entrepreneurial spirit of Nigerians informed the creation of the idea.
He stressed the need for Nigerian youths to continue to push forward in pursuit of worthy goals in spite of challenges, saying the benefits accruable from the show cut across participants as well as wider spectrum of Nigerians who are viewers, owing to the fact that it exposed business ideas and ideal managerial skills. The initiative had successfully empowered some young entrepreneurs with mental and financial wherewithal to take calculated business risks.
With the global economy shrinking, with business people finding it increasingly difficult to get funding for their businesses, especially small business owners, empowering SMEs had become very critical. The situation is even alarming in Africa, where such businesses are just gaining scant attention.
In the face of an overwhelming youth unemployment population standing at a staggering 60 per cent level, with the youth accounting for 70 per cent of Nigeria’s 150 million population, ICTs, either directly or indirectly, remain a reliable tool of respite.