By Segun Adekoye
Google and the Nigerian Internet Registration Association have seen the huge opportunities within the Small and Medium-scale Enterprises sub-sector of the economy and are working to bring 250, 000 businesses online.
With the Google partnership with Ecobank and MTN business succeeding in bringing over 25, 000 SMEs online through its Getting Nigerian Businesses Online (GNBO), NiRA has expressed its interest to invest N11m on infrastructural upgrade as part of its measures to register 250, 000 .ng domains by 2013.
The Country Manager, Google Nigeria, Mrs. Juliet Ehimuan, in a discussion with Punch, explained why the GNBO was initiated. She said GNBO was to prove that the internet usage was inexpensive and easy to understand. She said that were several free, easy-to-use tools available for companies to use.
Part of the sensitization process was to introduce a web fair, dedicated to helping Nigerians create their own websites themselves at www.GNBO.com.ng at no charge. She explained that the GNBO initiative has thus far helped over 25,000 businesses create professional websites and maximise their business reach. She expressed belief that the Internet will help SMEs in Nigeria to thrive, by bringing more local information online and foster economic growth in Nigeria.
NiRA’s Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Ope Odusan stated that the N11m infrastructure investment would focus on network subsystem and server upgrade, power systems upgrade, getting redundant bandwidth provider and customer support system. He reiterated that NiRA’s target is to have 250, 000 domain names registered in the .ng registry for government ministries, agencies and parastatals, businesses, educational institutions, and other individuals, especially the youths who use the Internet on a daily basis.
While Mr. Odunsan believes that the development would help to contribute about N250m annually to the economy, some other experts believe that the presence of more Nigerian SMEs online, would unlock more economic benefit for the country.