Google Incorporated said on 31 October 2011, that through its latest initiative, 5,000 of Nigeria ’s SMEs would move their businesses online in the next five days.
According to BusinessDayOnline.com, statistics indicate that there are three million SMEs in Nigeria and only a paltry 17,000 are online. Analyst say a digital revolution for SMEs is in the offing, as increasing empirical evidence suggests that simply putting a website on the internet, increases the revenue, productivity and competitiveness of SMEs.
Speaking at the Google small business web fair yesterday, Juliet Ehimuan, Google Nigeria Country Manager said small businesses are a key driver of economic growth in Nigeria .
“We intend to remove the barriers that stop small scale businesses from getting online, such as a lack of time, anticipated expense or simply a lack of knowledge. Our tools and resources make it quick, easy and free for businesses to register an online presence and take advantage of internet opportunities”.
Omobola Johnson, Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Communication Technology, who opened the fair, said SMEs are being used as a strategy for employment generation, economic restructuring for development and growth.
“Some compelling statistics support this view. Globally SMEs provide 50 percent of global employment and 90 percent of registered businesses are SMEs. In Malaysia , for instance, in 2006, SMEs were 99.2 percent of all businesses and contributed 47.3 percent of GDP and 65.3 percent of employment. In Nigeria , the statistics are similar but with some important differences.”
According to Johnson, 70% of the country’s employment is provided by SMEs, but they deliver only 10 percent of economic value added (EVA) compared to an average of 55% and 25% EVA, in other developing economies and 60 percent and 50 percent respectively, in developed economies of the world.
These statistics, according to the minister, show that Nigeria ’s SMEs are not as productive as they can, should or need to be. She listed a number of reasons that have slowed down the growth of SMEs which include: poor infrastructure, a poor skills base, poor access to finance, low adoption of ICT and access to markets amongst others.
With regards to infrastructure development, she said the role of the ICT Ministry is to facilitate the building of an ICT infrastructure that is cost effective, ubiquitous and gives more Nigerians better and faster access to the internet, at affordable prices.
“We are also committed to getting as many devices into the hands of Nigerians, to enable them transact business on the internet and create a demand for products and services offered over the internet. In other words, getting businesses online is a key part of the agenda and policy direction of this ministry.
Google has already registered its presence on the .ng domain name and is by this initiative populating the .ng domain for the benefit of Nigeria .
“I would strongly encourage SMEs to wholeheartedly embrace the internet and take that small first step of having a website on the .ng domain. Today Nigeria has an estimated 33 million internet users and we have targets to double this number in the next three to four years,” said Johnson.
Getting your business online immediately, gives you access to this market, not to talk of the hundreds of millions of other internet users out there – a very strong value proposition in our opinion”, said Johnson.