Improve internet coverage nationwide - Omanhene urges govt

BY: Kwadwo Baffoe Donkor
Baffour Owusu Bediako (left), Paramount Chief of the Domeabra Traditional Area, interacting with Mr Theophilus Yartey (2nd right), Deputy Editor, Daily Graphic, after the Access Bank/Graphic Business SME Clinic. With them are Mr Stephen Abban (2nd left), Divisional Head, Retail Banking, Access Bank, and Mr Kenneth Adjei-Effah, Adum Manager, Ghana Revenue Authority. Picture: EMMANUEL BAAH
Baffour Owusu Bediako (left), Paramount Chief of the Domeabra Traditional Area, interacting with Mr Theophilus Yartey (2nd right), Deputy Editor, Daily Graphic, after the Access Bank/Graphic Business SME Clinic. With them are Mr Stephen Abban (2nd left), Divisional Head, Retail Banking, Access Bank, and Mr Kenneth Adjei-Effah, Adum Manager, Ghana Revenue Authority. Picture: EMMANUEL BAAH

The Omanhene of the Domeabra Traditional Area, Nana Baffour Owusu Bediako, has asked government to work hard to improve internet connectivity nationwide, especially in the rural areas in order to achieve its digitalisation agenda.

He described reliable internet connectivity as a critical development tool needed to aid in the quest for digitalisation.

"It is important for the people, especially those in the rural areas to access reliable internet and at affordable rates," Nana Bediako who represented the President of the Ashanti Regional House of Chiefs said at the second Graphic Business/Access Bank SME Clinic held in Kumasi yesterday.

The seminar attracted about 250 owners and operators of small and medium size businesses in the Ashanti Region.

He advised the participants to leverage the Internet to promote businesses, products and services to increase their market share and also become visible.

"The Internet is an important tool that businesses should use in their operations.

"Businesses are taking advantage of the Internet to digitise their operations and you cannot be left out," he said.

SME clinic

The theme for the SME clinic was, ‘Championing SMEs Growth Through Digitalisation — M’adwuma mpontuo.’

In an address, the Deputy Editor of the Daily Graphic, Mr Theophilus Yartey, explained that Kumasi was chosen as the host city because of the well-known hospitality of the people and the number of entrepreneurs and SMEs it could boast of.

“So, we are here basically to discuss ways of improving your businesses through digitisation and introduce you to modern tools that could help businesses like yours scale up and grow into national brands,” he said.

He noted their growth as entrepreneurs and owners of small and medium businesses was of immense significance to the growth of Ghana’s budding economy and that their importance could not be overemphasised.

Therefore, it was important to channel all the support available for the growth of such businesses.

“Today, as we all engage and deliberate over the future and growth of SMEs, it should not be lost on us that current World Bank data shows that SMEs make up about 80 per cent of businesses in the economy, contributing immensely to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“This means that for the economy to thrive, deliberate efforts must be made to deepen the ease of doing business for SMEs, including providing them with both monetary and technical support,” he said. 

COVID-19 impact

Mr Yartey who is also the Editor of the Graphic Business deduced that SMEs formed the majority of businesses that were affected by the scourge of COVID-19.

He said the shock of the pandemic had already driven many SMEs out of business or had disrupted their operations, leaving many in debt or on the brink of collapse.

“So, while the nation finds the means to escape the negative effects of the pandemic, a greater task which can’t be ignored is how we find ways to move along with our SMEs.

“Digitisation in today’s world has moved from being a luxury to an everyday means to an end, but the COVID-19 pandemic has become a defining moment in accelerating the digitisation process, with the majority of people now relying on digital technology and connectivity to conduct essential functions, virtually,” he said.

He added, “we at Graphic are profoundly grateful to Access Bank for the collaboration geared towards empowering SMEs with new trends in business and technology to help them reach new markets, diversify and become more profitable and sustainable”.