To solve the employment problem, Nigeria will build industrial parks

by Laila Ibrahim

The Federal Government has said it will set up Industrial parks for Small and Medium Scale Enterprise (SMEs) to enable ease of running small businesses.

This was announced by the Minister of Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga, after the inauguration of the National Council on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) chaired by Vice President Namadi Sambo.

Noting that this is part of the structure put in place to organize the SMEs, he also said over 17 to 20 million exist in the country yet only 8% of these have access to finance from organised sectors. He added that the council on SMEs will be a game changer for the sector.

Aganga who is the Technical Chairman of the Council also noted that if the economy of the country is to thrive faster than it is, the SMEs which is a driver of the economy constituting more than fifty percent of the country’s GDP, must not be ignored.

“So if we are talking about inclusive economic growth, you cannot ignore this sector.

“Three out of four people employed in this country are from this sector, but we have never in the history of his country, treated the micro, small and medium enterprises as a sector.

“As a result they have had to grow on their own. A country where you have about 17 to 20 million SMEs, and only 8% of them have access to finance from recognized institutions, it means that the system has not supported them in anyway.

“A country where you have SME’s and their cost of production is very high, there is no market access, no Organisation, everyone does SMEs in one at or the other, that was the situation we had in the country.

“This is a game changer, what we are doing today is saying first of all let’s get organized, which is about developing institutional framework to focus only on that sector, bringing together all federal and state government related agencies and development institutions, to get her as members of that council to address the problems of SMEs, we put them into seven pillars, these are cross cutting measures” he said.

Aganga further noted that though it is important to have a N220 billion fund, if there is no way of getting it across to the ordinary Nigerian.

So access to finance, the President has charged us to come up with the financing value chain, we must make it easier, quicker for SMEs to access “and making sure that they are able to run their businesses successfully, make money, turn them into a new consumer group, that will be buying all the products you will fail. That is part of what this council will address”.

He also noted that the council will further set up sub committee which will comprise of people relating to financing, Micro finance institution, commercial banks, Central Bank of Nigeria and the Bank of Industry.

“So it is not just a national state council, as part of the structure we are setting up state SME councils. The state SME councils we have compromises governors, and people in the state, trade associations, they will deal and address issue affecting SMEs in their state and make recommendations that have impacts on the national council.

“We would set up Industrial parks for MSMEs in the country to make it easier for them to run their businesses”.

Aganga said the Council as part of its mandate will also address the issues of market access which entails moving and selling goods produced across the country.

He commended President Goodluck Jonathan for taking the step to constitute the council adding that this was the first time “under any administration we have a concerted organised, institutionalized structures to address the issues of that sector”.

He said significant changes are expected in the sector over the next few months.

The Minister also said gone are the days when no one cared about the average man on the street who contributes to the economy adding that “this is a programme for the people, this is a programme that will ensure that we address the inclusiveness of our economic development. To say we are growing at seven percent per annum and the average man on the street doesn’t see that impact, is not good for any government”.

Also speaking to journalists, the Osun state governor said the decision to organised the MSMEs was better late than never as this is the engine room of the economic growth of any nation.

Noting that though the country had celebrated the rebasing of the country’s GDP, he said the composition was more of services with less than 15% of manufacturing and industry. “With what we are doing now, I am sure that we are on the right path, I want to see within the next few years when our GDP is rebased, I want to see a scenario where we have about 60% of real sector being the dominant sector of our economy”.

The Benue State Governor noted that this will touch all the sectors and the real man in the village adding that when you talk about micro businesses, that is for the man on the street. “So what the President is doing today just shows that he is concerned about the issues that concerns the real man in the village” he said.

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