SMEs operators lament affordability of digitalisation, poor power supply

Some operators of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have attributed their growth challenges to the
non affordability of digitisation and erratic power supply.

The operators, who belong to a Hub in Abuja, told journalists in separate interviews on Tuesday that there were lots of opportunities for SMEs on the internet but cost of internet connectivity and power supply was not easily affordable.

Mr Adebimpe Aderounmu, an animal farmer, said “digitisation is a huge problem for us as we try to achieve visibility,
which is key for every business.

“Apart from visibility, we need patronage and partnership.

“If you are not connected appropriately, you may not be able to move forward. It also prevents entrepreneurs from reinventing the wheel,” he said.

Also, Olaseni Sodiq, a renewable energy provider, said there was nexus between affordability of power and internet connectivity and business growth.

“There is no way we are going to digitise be it on the internet, IoT (Internet of Things), be it in the cloud without having constant, stable power supply to power the devices.

“There are big, as well as small, portable energy solutions that can be moved around and those you can station to run your business.

“But government also needs to be giving incentives to providers of this energy system to democratise energy landscape in Nigeria,” he said.

Similarly, Hajiya Hauwa Umar, a private school proprietress, expressed her desire to go global in her business endeavour but said several challenges were facing her.

“As an entrepreneur, if you really want to go global, you have to digitise. It is good for the government to create awareness and platforms for such.

“Government also needs to come up with policies that will ensure teaching of ICT from primary school to tertiary institutions so that many people will be able to benefit from it,” she said.

Hajiya Saidat Sonoiki, an expert in sustainable agriculture, spoke of the imperative of doing business online.

“I know that with an application, people that want to buy my produce will be delivered promptly and easily from anywhere they are.

“It will be nice if more people can adopt such technology, networking will definitely reduce wastages,” she said.

Also, Meshach Owolabi, a digital marketing solution provider, emphasised the importance of digital services in the 21st century to all persons involved in one activity or the other

“There is no coming online without being digital. What SMEs expect from the government, other organisations are already providing it. Google just did that in Abuja and Lagos.

“Why is the government not providing internet to SMEs like Google? Why is the government not providing solar power to SMEs?” Owolabi asked.

Also, Victoria Onyeure, Home Finishing expert, said digitisation had gone a long way to help the businesses to growth.

“You can share your products on social media for the whole world to see.

“If you have quality products, many people will definitely patronise you once you put them on the internet. It is a good idea for the growth of every business.”

Lawal AbdulRasheed, another educationist, was of the view that every parent and child will still need to go global one way or the other.

“The school being the primary source of socialisation can start to spread the awareness from there,” he said.

Wahab Matanle, a haulage owner, described digitisation as “a welcome idea” in modern business.

”We need to look at the benefits abound in digital world. It is the way to go. We need to go digital for businesses to come from where you didn’t expect.”

However, Dr Mustapha Popoola, Chief Executive Officer, the Greeners’ Hub, (B2B- Nigeria), said internet should be affordable to SME Operators, adding that its potential is inestimable in growing the nation’s economy.

“We have about 60 million SMEs, assuming we have a solution that cost about N1,000, you can imagine how much the nation would be deriving from that.

“We should not relent in engaging the government. Let us engage SME operators, service producers and government for adoption of necessary policies to facilitate affordable and better internet connectivity.

”Solving SMEs related problems will automatically boost our GDP (Gross Domestic Products); it is also going to make easier, the current `ease of doing business’ in the country,” he said.

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