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Why Africa needs to invest on ICT, support SMEs

  • The ongoing challenges in the world today create avenues for improvement and a better future, especially in the telecom sector

By Juliet Umeh

Stakeholders in the technology sector have urged African leaders to create enabling business environments that support small and medium enterprises, SMEs.

They also advocate massive investment in information and communication technology, ICT as a better way to diversify African economies.

The calls came as Corporate Council on Africa, CCA, held a four-day virtual forum to foster growth in Post COVID Africa. The forum brought together Heads of State, senior USG and African government officials, CEOs, private sector executives, and leaders from multilateral institutions in Africa and beyond.

In one of the sessions, Co-founder of IHS Towers and CEO, IHS Nigeria, Mr. Mohamad Darwish, said the ongoing challenges in the world today create avenues for improvement and a better future, especially in the telecom sector.

While speaking on how the ICT sector plays a key role in promoting resilience during this health crisis and how it has enabled people to stay connected and maintain access to necessary resources, he urged African leaders to diversify from reliance on natural resources and create enabling business environments that support SMEs. He also urged them to invest more in ICT.

Also, Senior VP & Group Country Manager, Sub-Saharan Africa, VISA, Aida Diarra, highlighted VISA’s $200 million commitment to support SMEs over the next five years with the goal of enabling 50 million SMEs globally to digitalize.

She also stressed the importance for African countries to create a business environment that is conducive to innovation and remarked on the impact the African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA will have on enabling e-commerce.

Diarra added: “It is about formalizing the SMEs and giving them a chance to enter the formal ecosystem and enabling the digital payment service providers.”

The CCA Leaders Forum was sponsored by Acrow Bridge; Afro Tourism; AllAfrica, APO Group; Caterpillar Inc.; Citi; Covington and Burling LLP; Creative Associates; Development Finance International; Flutterwave; General Electric; Lockheed Martin; Procter & Gamble; Rabin Martin; and Visa Inc.

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