Supporting Nigeria’s Small Businesses – Citizen IBM

by Remi Abere, Citizen IBM

Remi Abere

As Africa’s most populous country (and the seventh most populous country in the world), Nigeria accounts for between 60 percent and 70 percent of the trade and investment flows in the West Africa sub-region. The human capital implications of this evolving regional dynamic on Nigeria’s trade, investment, economic development and growth is becoming increasingly obvious.

The bottom line is that there are huge skills gaps in business management and public sector administration.

IBM decided to help close the skills gap in Nigeria’s small business milieu as part of its social investments and continued commitment to Africa’s economic growth. Recently, we conducted a project management workshop for 30 young entrepreneurs in Lagos – a city of nearly eight million people, and Nigeria’s economic and industrial hub. The workshop was enabled by an IBM Service Grant, and was the first of its kind in the Middle-East/Africa region. IBM South Africa wordle

Collaborating with FATE Foundation, a wealth creation and skills development non-governmental organization, the IBM Service Grant Workshop was attended by young entrepreneurs involved in internet marketing, printing, event management, furniture making, catering, agriculture, renewable energy, research, healthcare, carpet retailing and market research. The workshop has helped in no small measure to create fresh organizational perspectives, and prepared the budding entrepreneurs for the competition and business development challenges of their respective sectors.

“As a proactive and responsible corporate citizen, IBM will continue to help galvanize knowledge and skills acquisition for small businesses in Nigeria and the rest of West Africa. Despite concerns over funding support for small-sized businesses, finance and cash flow management appears to be the least of their headaches.” – Taiwo Otiti, Country General Manager, IBM West Africa

Skills shortage, education and business management knowledge have been identified as the bane of the small and medium scale enterprises (SME) sector in Nigeria. So, having the right knowledge, the right skills and the right tools and techniques will help these entrepreneurs deliver the right business results.

IBM is committed to narrowing the skills gap and helping small businesses in Nigeria become more efficient in their operations, and the Service Grant Workshop has helped participants to begin to incorporate smart initiatives in their respective businesses.

Remi Abere leads IBM’s Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs efforts in West Africa.

Related Resources:

IBM in West Africa

IBM Service Grants

The Mainframe: Making Good in Africa, with IBM Business Partner CFAO

By Jean Noel Le Foll, General Manager, CFAO Technologies

Brazil, Russia, India, China, Turkey, South Africa and Mexico are the fastest growing markets for computer equipment, making up 14% of the global IT market. The regions increasing their IT purchases the most are the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Africa, according to Forrester Research. A growing list of companies in these emerging economies is relying on the IBM System z mainframe to build their infrastructures.

The Ministry of Senegal brought all of its import and export processes from across the country on-line with System z, and is now recovering 30% of Gross National Product, which amounts to two billion Senegalese francs in customs revenue every day. In the process, the Ministry increased the performance of its systems by 70%, reduced power consumption by 20% and cut operating costs by 30%.

The System Z Mainframe goes global

Customs officers in Senegal and their partners now have real-time access to information across all of the country’s border checkpoints. They can check to see if the correct duty has been paid on shipments of goods coming through the country’s main border checkpoints This is a vast improvement over the Ministry’s previous system, which was limited to two border checkpoints. The Ministry of Senegal is using technology to apply critical information to boost the country’s economic growth.

Logo of CFAO TechnologiesMy company, CFAO, also worked with the government in Cameroon to help them build their infrastructure on the mainframe. In Cameroon, the Cameroon Ministry of Finance is using a System z mainframe to help with smarter banking and modernize the payroll processes for government employees in the country. The new system is helping to increase the security of the Ministry’s payroll system and improve the efficiency of processes such as generating pay slips.

Mainframes provide enterprise clients in growth markets with an efficient platform for growth as they transform their businesses to become smarter in their industry. CFAO’s System z business in Africa has grown 15% over the last three years. And IBM’s System z revenue in growth markets was up 11% year to year in the second quarter of 2012, per IBM earnings.

Today, IBM announced a new mainframe that has been built with features that will appeal to clients in growth markets, such as the capability to run without a raised datacenter floor. IBM has been making changes over the last five generations of mainframes to enable clients to do this.

The new family of mainframes will also allow enterprises in growth markets to grow their business by 50 percent without increasing their energy usage, IT investment or system size.

CFAO expects the new mainframe will allow us to help more clients in Africa operate smarter to grow their economies and better serve citizens by more effectively making use of available data.

CFAO Technologies is an IBM Business Partner in West Africa.