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NCC, SMEDAN partner on digital skills development for MSMEs (Plus VIDEO)

L-R: Bassey Uket, Assistant Director; Dr. Austin Nwaulune, Director of Digital Economy; Hauwa Wakili, Principal Manager, all of NCC; and Mr. Amu Ogbeide, Chief Executive Officer of Sapphital Learning Limited Photo: NCC

*The Nigerian Communications Commission says the digital scheme is a public-private partnership initiative with SMEDAN and Sapphital Learning Limited to provide over 41.5million MSME owners with digital skills to enhance their entrepreneurial capacities, provide employment, increase Forex, and enhance the well-being of Nigerian consumers

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

In actualising the Commission’s value of strategic partnership and commitment to collaboration in the economy, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has partnered with the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) to establish an SME Digital Academy.

ConsumerConnect reports the telecoms sector regulatory Commission describes the SME Digital Academy as “a public-private partnership initiative being driven by the NCC, SMEDAN, and Sapphital Learning Limited, a leading digital learning platform, essentially to provide micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) owners with digital skills to enhance their entrepreneurial skills.”

The NCC said that the partnership also aimed to equip entrepreneurs and start-ups with the necessary digital skills required to navigate the increasingly digitised world.

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Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, Director of Public Affairs, stated Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of NCC, while speaking at the recent programme launch at the NEXIM House, in Abuja, FCT, said setting up of the scheme was based on the realisation that in today’s global economy, a borderless educational and economic system would be the next stage of the digital economy.

Represented at the inauguration of the programme  by Dr. Austin Nwaulune, Director of Digital Economy at NCC, Prof. Danbatta noted while the collaboration between the NCC and SMEDAN is a step towards economic diversification, digital technologies are key  in implementation of this initiative.

The EVC/CEO further stated that the Commission has continued to work towards providing information and communications technology (ICT) support to various sectors in the country.

According to Danbatta, with over 41 million Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in Nigeria, proper empowerment of entrepreneurs would create an extremely powerful impact on economic growth of the country.

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According to him, SMEs’ empowerment would also help in providing employment, lessening societal vices, developing the economy, increasing foreign exchange as well as improving the general well-being of Nigerians.

The NCC EVC/CEO also said: “Knowledge is pivotal to the growth of entrepreneurship, as it provides the businessman or woman, the know-how on raising capital, strategic partnership, and proper organisational, administrative, sales and marketing skills required to run an effective business.

“Knowledge is, therefore, the food of every economy, especially, the digital economy, as it fuels its growth and stimulated the digital ecosystem.”

Dr. Nwaulune (seated), taking a tour of the digital economy platform while others watch at the event

Danbatta was quoted to have recalled when SMEDAN set up the Digital Academy November 2020, as an avenue to support SME development during the COVID-19 lockdown, the NCC was excited and immediately keyed into the strategic partnership because of the potential impact of the initiative on the Nigerian economy.

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He, therefore, acknowledged the role of SMEDAN as a bridge between the instructors and students, experts and start-ups, funding parties and businesses to the millions of MSMEs. “So, the timing is precise for the collaboration as the country is in dire need of diversification.

“Through the Digital Academy, the MSMEs, start-ups, freelancers, would be provided with a platform to access courses “on-the-go” from devices and locations of their convenience,” said the NCC Chief.

Danbatta restated the unflinching commitment of the Commission to providing the required leverage needed for ICT development in Nigeria, just as the NCC will support the Digital Academy to provide a digital platform for entrepreneurs and start-ups across the 36 states of the Federation and Abuja.

Audiovisual material: NCC

In his address at the launch, Dr. Dikko Radda, Director-General of SMEDAN, also represented by Moses Ewans, Director of Enterprise Development and Promotion at the agency, expressed delight at the partnership with the Commission, and declared that over 41.5 million MSMEs are in Nigeria.

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Citing a recent survey, Radda noted that the entrepreneurs had contributed 49.78 percent to the nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP), leading to the employment of about 59.6 million Nigerians which translates into 76.5 percent of the Labour force.

The Director-General of SMEDAN said: “These small-scale enterprises need to be encouraged and nurtured to enable them to create jobs, contribute to the alleviation of poverty, and want.

“SMEDAN, which is an agency in the Federal Ministry of Trade and Industry and established over 15 years ago, operates on five platforms, namely, dissemination of information, delivery of business development services, networking and cluster formation, policy and public advocacy, and lastly, provision of access to critical resources.”

Earlier in his opening remarks on the occasion, Amu Ogbeide, Group Chief Executive Officer, Sapphital Learning Limited, noted that his company was excited to be working with SMEDAN on the ongoing efforts at empowering entrepreneurs and start-ups in the country.

Ogbeide, said through working with SMEDAN, Sapphital has been instrumental in the digitisation of SMEDAN’s entrepreneurial digital literacy journey.

At the beginning of the digital literacy programme, he stated that Sapphital started with only three courses, which have since increased to over 60 courses in its curriculum.

“We believe that the Nigerian diversification journey is a work in progress and the country is on the exalted path towards full digitisation.

“The combination of the digital economy with SMEs will lead to exponential economic growth of the country,” noted Ogbeide.

The Chief Executive of Sapphital Learning Limited concluded by relating the success story of Uber, an American company, as regards the power of ICT and the economy.

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