Connect with us

Uncategorized

It’s Getting Easier for SMEs to do Business in Africa and Technology is Playing Key Role

Published

on

Kindly share this post

By SoromfeUzomah, Head of Strategic Partnerships at Microsoft 4Afrika

The 2020 World Bank Doing Business report was recently released, and showsthe overall business climate in sub-Saharan Africa issteadily improving. Looking at the ease of starting and maintaining a business, the region as a whole improved one percentage point over the last year, with a few standout countries. Mauritius and Rwanda rankamong the top 20 countries globally, while Nigeria and Togo are among the top global improvers.

In the last year, countries across the region implemented73 reforms, removing certain red tapes and obstacles for SMEs. While this is positive development, sub-Saharan Africa is still classified as a weak-performing region overall, with an average ease of doing business score of 51.8 – below the global average of 63.0.

Small businesses continue to battle with challenges includingunreliable electricity, property registration, tax payment and debt management.But one trend is clear: As levels ofinternet access, technology adoption and digital innovation improve, so domany of these challenges.

The enabling power of technology

The use of online systems for tax filing, for instance, improved the ease of doing business scores in Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Mauritius and Togo. Nigeria also introduced the e-payment of trade fees, reducing the time to import and export, and an online platform for registering businesses, strengthening itsranking. Globally, markets that scored the highest in the report all have widespread use of electronic platforms.

Digital platforms are able to more quickly process and streamline administrative tasks, giving SMEs back precious time and money to focus on doing, and growing, business.Removing the burden of paperwork and long queues also has an incredible motivating factor. When the Kenya Copyright Boardworked with Microsoft to develop an online, automated platform to help SMEs register intellectual property (IP), registrations increased by 100 percent. Additionally, one study found that the knock-on effect of increased IP registration is economies that are 26 percent more competitive and twice as likely to produce and export complex, knowledge-intensive products.

SMEs are eager to adopt these digital services to improve their productivity. In South Africa, The State of Small Business report found that78 percent of small businesses surveyedchoose accounting software to manage their financial records.

Foundations of access needed

But,the same report found that more than half of SMEs list internet access as their principal obstacle to adopting technology. The accessibility and success of these digital platforms depends on reliable access to electricity and the internet. In terms of connectivity, many African countries are still below the 20 percent critical mass necessary to achieve improved efficiencies and information flows for economic growth and innovation.

To tackle this, more investments into reliable infrastructure are needed. However, while infrastructure develops,innovation can help to bridge the gap. In Nigeria, ICE Commercial Power has introduced an off-grid, solar-powered solution to connect 10,000 SMEs to electricity. The solar grids are linked to a Microsoft cloud-computing platform, which enables remote maintenance of the equipment (reducing any downtime) and lets SMEs manage and pay for their electricity use as they go. Similarly, in Kenya, Mawingu Networks has introduced Wi-Fi hotspots run on solar-powered base stations, connecting some 600 SMEs in Nanyuki to high-speed, low-cost internet.

An ecosystem for growth and development

While governments can play a leading role in building supportive business climates for SMEs, the responsibility doesn’tsit solely with them. Public and private sector organisations can collaborate on building an enabling ecosystem, where private-sector innovation and services are backed by public-sector policy to accelerate growth.

Recently, the United Kingdom took regulatory action by forming the Banking Competition Remedies Ltd, which administers funding directly to financial institutions that address SME needs. While this action was specific to the banking industry, it’s a great example of public-private collaboration to learn from.Africa’s market for digital solutions targeting SMEs is vibrant. In East Africa, Africa 118 provides directory and marketing services to SMEs, whilePopote Payments supports budgeting, expenditure tracking and accounting. In West Africa,SpacePointe helps SMEs build affordable online marketplaces and ecommerce strategies. Finally,FirstBank, Vodacom (and soon to be Jumia)haveall partnered with Microsoft to offer a discounted package of technology and educational resources to their SME customers.

While the private-sector has historically taken the lead investing in these kinds of solutions, the United Kingdom example demonstrates ways the public sector can get involved, encouraging innovation that benefits small business growth.

The shared benefits of supporting small businesses are numerous. Governments benefit from boosted economies and job creation. Private-sector businesses attract a large and lucrative consumer base. And SMEs are able to access the resources they need to succeed. Key to this collaboration will be involving SMEs very much in the innovation and policy-making process – ensuring their needs are meaningfully heard, and met.

 


Kindly share this post

Ugo Onwuaso is an ICT enthusiast. He believes technology should be used for general good. He holds a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the Lagos state University.

Continue Reading
Comments

Uncategorized

NCC Threatens Illegal Users of GSM Boosters with Arrest, Prosecution

Published

on

Kindly share this post

Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) has warned telecom consumers to desist from using illegal GSM boosters.

NCC Threatens Illegal Users of GSM Boosters with Arrest, Prosecution

The commission also said that anyone caught using a GSM booster without obtaining approval of a duly licensed network operator will face arrest and prosecution.

GSM boosters are devices that transmit and receive telecommunications signals and can therefore interfere with other radio frequency equipment.

Ikechukwu Adinde, director, public affairs, NCC, said in a notice published on NCC website, that only licensed network operators are allowed to use GSM boosters.

The booster, also known as amplifier or repeater is made up of three main elements – exterior antenna, amplifier, and interior antenna.

They form a wireless system to boost cellular reception

“Members of the public should note that, willful interference with any wireless telegraphy is an offence under Section 16 of the Telegraphy Act, 2004,”it said

The agency said it will not condone any flagrant breach of this law.

It has also enforced measures to prosecute offenders.

Accordingly, monitoring mechanisms have been put in place and anyone caught using a GSM booster without obtaining approval of a duly licensed network operator will face arrest and prosecution.

“Any member of the public with useful information regarding the illegal use of GSM Boosters should contact the Commission on 09-4617000/7351 or send an email to [email protected],” the notice said.

“Individuals desirous of using GSM Boosters should note that they can only do so in conjunction with licensed network operators,” it added.

 

 


Kindly share this post
Continue Reading

Uncategorized

Tizeti Selects Nokia to Provide LTE Fixed Wireless Access Solution for High-Speed internet Services in Nigeria

Published

on

Kindly share this post

Tizeti announced that it selected Nokia’s Fastmile Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology to enable usprovide superior internet services to over 1 Million subscribers in Port Harcourt, Edo and Ogun in Nigeria.

Tizeti Selects Nokia to Provide LTE Fixed Wireless Access Solution for High-Speed internet Services in Nigeria

Tizeti will deploy Nokia’s AirScale Base Station TDD-LTE and FastmileFixed Wireless Access (FWA) gatewaysto deliver premium internet and Virtual Private Network (VPN) services to Residential, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

The solution will also enable Tizeti’sto deliver a more robust, high-speedinternet service to subscribers and the flexibility to seamlessly evolve to 5G Fixed Wireless Access when needed.

Nokia’s FWA solution enables Tizeti to fast-track broadband access and provide a best-in-class broadband experience to its subscribers.

Nokia’sAirScale Base Stations ensure high-quality connectivity and coverage and enablesTizeti to evolve the network in line with customer demand.

Nokia’sFastmilegateways connect wirelessly to the existing network to createa fastbroadband connection and enhanced Wi-Fi experience in the home.

The Nokia Network Services Platform will help Tizeti to simplify operations and quickly respond to changing market demands.

Kendall Ananyi, Tizeti, said:“We are committed to providing the best-in-class network experience to our subscribers. We are confident that Nokia’s proven technology and expertise will help us differentiate our services based on quality. This a crucial project for us as it introduces LTE in our networks and allows us to bring new and innovative services to our subscribers.”

Eniola Balogun, Nokia, said:“We are thrilled to work with Tizeti on the initiative to upgrade their network to bring the latest products and services to its subscribers. Nokia Fastmile will help Tizeti to cost-effectively enhance the customer experience.

The project will also enable them to delight their subscribers by providing more reliable data services.

On the other hand, Tizeti will benefit by adding new revenue streams.”

 

 


Kindly share this post
Continue Reading

Telecom

Risk Assets Push Higher on Vaccine Hopes; Eyes on the Fed

Published

on

Kindly share this post

By Hussein Sayed, Chief Market Strategist at FXTM,

After two consecutive weeks of back-to-back declines, global stocks kicked off Monday with solid gains amid a surge in M&A activity and positive signs towards vaccine developments. Currency markets were little changed ahead of a busy week of monetary policy announcements, while Oil and Gold ticked slightly higher.

The two big deals announced over the weekend were Softbank’s plan to sell chipmaker ARM to Nvidia for more than $40 billion and Gilead Sciences to acquire Immunomedics for a price tag of $21 billion. Meanwhile, on the vaccine front, AstraZeneca resumed its phase-3 trial on Covid-19 after being suspended last week following a neurological illness developed in one participant, and Pfizer announced that its vaccine could be distributed before year-end if found safe and effective.

 

Central Banks will take centre stage this week with the Federal Reserve, Bank of England and Bank of Japan all due to announce policy decisions. Out of the three meetings, the Fed is likely to be the most watched following its historic shift towards average inflation targeting. The big question remains how will the FOMC put this policy into action?

 

From what we know now, the Fed is set up to keep interest rates near zero for a long time, possibly for several years. Given the new framework, any spike in inflation won’t translate into immediate rate hikes as the Fed wants to compensate for the lost years when they have failed to hit the target. The dot plot will be the key guide for investors and traders alike. If inflation projections remain at 2% or below for the foreseeable future, this will solidify market expectations for a low rate environment for many years to come. That said, Jay Powell would still have to explain in more detail how the new framework will be translated into policy action.

 

In June’s economic projections, the Fed anticipated unemployment would be at 9.3% by year-end, but, in August, unemployment was well below that forecast at 8.4%. Many other economic data surprised to the upside during the June – August period in a clear sign that most economists were overly pessimistic towards the strength of the recovery. However, there is still a considerable amount of uncertainty given the latest surge in Covid-19 cases worldwide and the US, especially as we get closer into the winter season. A second wave will undoubtedly put the recovery at risk in the final quarter of the year and it will be interesting to see the Fed’s view on that issue.

 

As for the market selloff over the past two weeks, the Fed isn’t likely to show any signs of concern. In fact, policymakers should be satisfied with the pullback as the risk of a bubble in several assets has been growing due to the Fed’s extremely accommodative policies. Unless we see another 10 -15% drop, do not expect the Fed to intervene.


Kindly share this post
Continue Reading

Trending