DG NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, CCIE Delivering a Keynote Address During DBN's 2023 Annual Lecture Series

NITDA DG Advocates for Digital Transformation of MSMEs for Economic Growth

Kashifu Inuwa, the Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), stressed the critical role of digitalization in driving sustainable economic growth through the digitization of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

In a keynote address at the Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN) 2023 Annual Lecture Series in Abuja, Inuwa highlighted the transformative potential of technology in enhancing the ease of doing business for MSMEs.

Citing a 2020 PwC MSME survey, Inuwa underscored the significance of MSMEs in Nigeria, constituting about 96% of all businesses, contributing 49% to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and employing 84% of the country’s workforce.

“MSMEs that have embraced digitalization and technology tend to fare better, and that underscores a study done in Turkey which shows that 41.2% of 131 SMEs underwent technological innovations, and this led to an operational efficiency of 96.9%.”

Inuwa acknowledged the accelerated pace of technology innovation, emphasizing the government’s commitment to inclusivity and digital infrastructure accessibility. He highlighted the government’s efforts in providing an easy online business registration process, contrasting it with the previous requirement for individuals to travel to Abuja for the same purpose.

“As a government, we have the responsibility to carry everyone along, especially when it comes to inclusivity or access to digital infrastructure; it is no longer a privilege but a necessity.”

He urged collaboration with key development partners, building strong institutions, and fostering partnerships to realize the digital vision in Nigeria.

DG NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, CCIE in a Group Photograph With Dbn Team and Other Guests After DBN's 2023 Annual Lecture Series
DG NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, CCIE in a Group Photograph With Dbn Team and Other Guests After DBN’s 2023 Annual Lecture Series

Inuwa commended the DBN for its role in advocating MSME financing and urged the bank to include tech startups in its funding schemes. He also urged the bank to consider providing startups with access to funds, emphasizing their similarity to MSMEs.

“If all SMEs in Nigeria can digitize today, we can add $60 Billion by just leveraging technology, and recent research has shown that any MSME that transformed digitally could increase its revenue by 26% and reduce costs by 22%.”

The NITDA Boss highlighted and explained the seven points Strategic Roadmap Pillars of the Agency, emphasizing the Federal Government’s commitment to digitally transforming the economy.

“Today, we collaborate more with western countries than our neighbors; this shows that we are the next frontier when it comes to the digital economy.”

Inuwa emphasized the need to foster collaborations with key development partners and build strong institutions to deliver and execute all digital visions in Nigeria. He maintained that the focus of the digital vision remains to uplift Nigeria through digital transformation and innovation.

“Start-ups and MSMEs are the engine room for digital transformation and innovation. Therefore, I want to encourage DBN to keep up the good work and to also recognize the need to include tech startups in all your funding schemes.”

Earlier in his welcome speech, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Development Bank of Nigeria, Dr. Tony Okpanachi, alluded to the impact of the internet on human interaction and commerce. He emphasized the need to use existing and upcoming technology to improve the Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria, which currently ranks 131 out of 190 economies.

“MSMEs in Nigeria play a crucial role in economic growth, poverty reduction, employment creation, as well as shared wealth creation, and by leveraging technology within their operations, companies can improve their efficiencies, which is one of the roadblocks to doing business in Nigeria.”

The CEO affirmed that the DBN’s Annual Lecture Series is a platform that advocates for MSME financing in Nigeria, leading the conversation on how technology can drive innovation, resilience, and profitability for MSMEs.

The fourth DBN Annual Lecture hybrid event marked the bank’s 6th anniversary, featuring speakers drawn from a range of subject matter expertise, comprising public sector, academia, development economics, financial services, and entrepreneurship. The event also featured keynotes and panel sessions, where facilitators shared their perspectives on driving sustainable business growth with technology that adapts to a green economy.