As PDF calls on entrepreneurs to maximize AfCTA with tech

By  Gabriel Ewepu and Alice Ekpang – Abuja

The National Information Development Agency, NITDA, has tasked business owners in the South East region of the country on adoption of digital technology to boost manufacturing, distribution, marketing, and profit making.

This was stated by the Director, Corporate Planning, NITDA, Dr Agu Collins Agu, during the South East Regional Dialogue via Webinar, organized by the Policy Development Facility, PDF, Bridge, aimed at improving competitiveness of the business environment and internationalization of South East businesses.

Agu maintained that Information and Communication Technology, ICT, remains a catalyst and a reliable tool that should be utilized to carry out automation.

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He said: “COVID19 has accelerated digital inclusion, what was now forbidden 10 years ago has been adopted and implemented which is a very good thing.

“The human capital is key because if we have all the other things without having a human capital then it becomes an issue, and that is where digital inclusion comes in where we need to develop capacity for people to be able to utilize some of these digital tools like phones and computers in their businesses.”

He also called for a law that would make it mandatory for any business to incorporate

renewable energy in its operations in order to create an enabling environment for digital trade to thrive.

“This part of the world we are so blessed that we have a high insulation we are the equator, So what I will advise which I have been actually propagating is that there should be a law made that any strategic project across Nigeria not only southeast should incorporate a renewable energy system”, he said.

In another presentation, Dr Olu Alaba, emphasized that there are numerous opportunities digital trade and E-commerce provides to reach new and more distant markets without physical appearance.

He added that the new normal occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic, with digital trade has created a new economy which is huge and massive in which both government and private sectors can take advantage.

In his recommendation, he said South East Chambers of Commerce should govern various actors and equip them with knowledge of abundant opportunities in the new normal.

He also advised that South East governments should create an enabling environment for investors that are interested in providing digital business and should be ready to support automation of South East trade in order to properly mainstream the region into the global modern market.

Speaking also was the Programme Manager PDF Bridge, Titilola Akindehinde-Ojo, said that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way business is conducted globally and has necessitated a new thinking on market access and competitiveness of the South Eastern industrial cities and homes.

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“Digital trade and E-Commerce have grown significantly through this year’s challenges and of course becoming a dominant way of doing business”, Akindehinde-Ojo said.

She also pointed out that digital trade has become the mainstay of connecting businesses and consumers globally and diffusing ideas.

According to her Digital Economy and E-commerce are now part of the consideration in the African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCTA, phase two negotiations, and that Nigeria industrial and trade hubs in South East region should be well-prepared to harness maximally from the AfCTA agreement.

Meanwhile, she expressed optimism that the dialogue would equip people with the skills needed to participate in digital trade effectively and thereby enhance competitiveness in international markets.



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