Dev’t Story: How ICT Can Drive Growth for SMEs in Ghana

Jacob Kwaku Gyan, Chief Executive Officer of Adroit 360, a Ghanaian software development and website designing startup

Accra, Ghana, March 21, 2019//-Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Ghana and any part of the world that adopt information communication technology (ICT) grow faster and efficient than their counterparts which are holding back.

Through the use of ICT, from the tried-and-trusted creation of a web presence, to social media platforms, and the more recent trend of building a chatbot– a computer programme or an artificial intelligence which conducts a conversation via auditory or textual methods, SME operators can use these tools to spur growth

To buttress these, a recent study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group, an American multinational management consulting firm, found that tech-savvy SMEs grow their revenues 15 per cent faster than those using less advanced technology.

Additionally, the study found that they grew jobs nearly twice as fast as those SMEs that have not embraced modernisation technologies.

Jacob Kwaku Gyan, Chief Executive Officer of Adroit 360, a Ghanaian software development and website designing startup, said: “One of the major impacts in the business ecosystem in this recent time is ICT. The digital frenzy has impacted every aspect of business to which SMEs are no exception”.

“So, there are some people who are selling food products, shoes, phones, clothes among others online. So, any SME, any business who is not leveraging on digital tools, on having a strong brand presence online, using social media optimisation, search engine optimisation, customer applications that could build customer loyalty and ensuring business efficiency will definitely not going to be productive”, Mr Gyan told African Eye Report at his Dansoman-based office in Accra.

The development of these skill-sets and applying them to businesses have become more prominent than before, he stated.

Available ICT tools for SMEs

The internet penetration in Ghana keeps growing. The 2018 data released by global digital agencies-We Are Social and Hootsuite, revealed that 10,110,000 Ghanaians were using the internet. The figure represented 35% of the country’s 29 million population up by two million in January 2017.

The rise of Ghanaian internet users was replicated across the continent with Africa recording the fastest growth rates in internet penetration, with the number of internet users across the continent increasing by more than 20% compared to 2017.

The ‘Digital in 2018’ report also showed that over half of the world’s population is now online (4.021 billion), while nearly a quarter of a billion new users came online for the first time in 2017.

This means that Ghanaians are using the internet always to find out what is happening in and around the world. So, if you are operating any kind of business, you should find a way to be represented on the internet, Mr Gyan admonished SME operators.

“Because if you have an office on Accra high street, you can only be located on the Accra high street but people can be in Kintampo, Ghana and do business with you over the internet. So, it is important to have a branch on the internet. That is why businesses should have websites”, he added.

Websites shouldn’t just be informational. It should capture what you do in its entirety. “From my point of view, if you sell shoes, you should be able to sell them online. So, somebody in Bantama, a suburb of Kumasi in the Ashanti Region of Ghana should be able to buy your shoes from you in East Legon, a suburb in Accra”, Mr Gyan said.

Luckily with the development of payment gateway, there is now mobile interoperability, people can buy products and services using mobile money, bank transfers, and other payment channels. So, these tools have come for the businesses of SMEs and large companies.

Aside the over 10 million Ghanaians who are online every day, most of them are also on social media including Facebook who are potential customers for the SME operators in the West African country.

Ghana currently has 5.6 million active social media users, 19.53 million mobile users and 4.90 active social media users – an increase of 22% (one million) on the January 2017 figure, according to the ‘Digital in 2018’ report. So, SMEs can also make money from the social media platforms.

For instance, “if you are selling used car tyres, most of  your friends and contacts who are on social media platforms use cars. So, take the advantage to market your tyres to them and they may end up buying from you. So, social media shouldn’t be a place for only conversation. It can be a place for serious business conversation, Mr Gyan stressed.

He encouraged SME operators to use digital tools such emails to check-up and wish their customers and other stakeholders happy birthdays. This Mr Gyan said would go a long way to build brand loyalty.

“With GDP growth of nearly 4% and competition among multiple mobile-cellular providers, it has spurred growth with a subscribership of more than 130 per 100 persons having a mobile contract in Ghana, and rising.

Opportunities abound for entrepreneurs to embrace new technologies, and added bundled offers that go with it to make it easier to be online, connected and changing world”.

Integrate ICT

Solomon King Adiyiah, Chief Executive Officer, e-solutions Consulting Limited, also called on SMEs in the country to implement digital business strategies in order to reap the benefits of the ICT revolution.

According to him, this would also help the SMEs make sense of disruptive innovation to ensure that the right technology is incorporated across all business processes.

So, SME players who are ready to employ new media, technologies and strategies that will help the success of their businesses will benefit almost immediately with modernization.

By Masahudu Ankiilu Kunateh, African Eye Report

 

 

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