How to inspire business growth, by experts

SMBs-feature-Copy..SMEs contribute 46% to GDP

IN recognition of the fact that Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) now contribute about 46 per cent to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), experts have called for, among others, policy consistency that will further drive their growth.

Today, Nigeria alone is home to about 17 million SMEs, with 70 per cent in the manufacturing cycle. Report has it that SMEs account for 70 per cent of Ghana’s GDP and 92 per cent of its businesses. They also make up 91 per cent of formalized businesses in South Africa.

As such, SMEs not only contribute significantly to the economy but can also serve as an impetus for economic diversification through their development of new and unsaturated sectors of the economy.

These were among the views enumerated by the trio of renowned political economist, Prof. Pat Utomi; MTN Group Chief Enterprise Officer, Nteto Nyati and MTN Nigeria’s Chief Executive Officer, Michael Ikpoki, on Tuesday in Lagos, at an event put together by MTN inconjuction with CNN with the theme: “Inspiring Business Growth in Africa.”

Leading the charge, Utomi said it has become very important for every business to recognize that the environment is constantly changing, and requires them to institutionalise learning that will help in decision-making process.

Utomi, a Lagos Business School (LBS) Director, affirmed that government has lot to do because of the changing times. He was however, quick to mention that government lacks resources to drive growth and make life better, “but collaboration by government with the Private sector has become more crucial if existing businesses must survive and new ones spring up.”

For SMEs to grow Utomi said Nigeria must as a matter of urgency, bridge the infrastructure deficit. He stressed that global infrastructure development has reached 60 per cent, while Nigeria continues to struggle at 25 per cent.

According to Utomi, government in Nigeria and other part of Africa must come out with a national strategy, which should reposition the economy.

The LBS Director also lamented that Africa is suffering challenge of lack of skills, stressing that this has created huge bottlenecks for employment generation and creation.

Utomi urged African governments to focus strategically on developing the education and health sector, stressing that these two are critical to any government that must succeed.

For Nyati, businesses can grow significantly if it embraces technology, stressing that this is one area, MTN has focused on in the last 21 years of its operations, by helping countries to get connected.

Nyati said MTN has grown beyond just a telecommunications firm, but a full-fledged Information and Communications Technology (ICT) firm, which strived to be more relevant in the countries it operates in.

According to him, organisations needed to be futuristic in their approach if they must be successful, “but it is more critical for government policies to be consistent, especially to encourage long term investment. If government changes, it is important to maintain their policies. It is also important that there must be collaboration between the public sector and the private sector.”

The MTN Group Chief Enterprise Officer stressed that whatever government does should impact positively on the national economy.

With MTN now a full fledged ICT firm, Ikpoki said government must recognized that technology is a key driver for development, “as such, it has gone beyond just making policies, there is need for accountability in governance to encourage investments.”

The MTN Nigeria boss noted that the private sector has huge role to play in the economy, but government must create an enabling environment where there is security; infrastructure; incentives among others.

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