19 June 2012

Nigeria: FG, Private Sector Plan Industrial Parks

THE Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr. Olusegun Aganaga has said that the Federal Government is partnering with the private sector to establish industrial parks to facilitate industrial development.

Aganga said this in Abuja on Monday at the opening of the two-day Third D-8 Working Group Meeting, which has as its theme 'Promoting International Trade Through SME Development'.

Members of the D-8, a group of eight developing nations founded in 1997 to foster economic cooperation, are Nigeria, Iran, Turkey Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Egypt.

Aganga said that infrastructure, which he described as a major problem in the development of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the country, must be addressed.

'The ministry is currently promoting private sector-led industrial clusters, parks and common facility centres in different parts of the country commensurate with their factor endowments or comparative advantage.

'This is to address the infrastructure challenge, which is one of the major factors militating against the industrial development of the country and to also take advantage of the economies of scale accruable in the clusters.'

He said that Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) remained the backbone of the development of the economy and the driving force of national growth.

He also said that there were over 17 MSMEs in Nigeria, empowering over 31 million Nigerians, adding that the challenges confronting MSMEs were being addressed.

Aganga noted that MSMEs accounted for over 80 per cent of the total number of enterprises in the country, employing more than 75 per cent of the total workforce.

'The barriers to MSMEs growth are low level of business development support services, inefficient implementation of SMEs policy, lack of workspace and common facility centres, skills gaps, market access and infrastructure challenges.

'All of these barriers are being addressed,' he added.

Also speaking, Mr. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), said MEMEs play a major role in Nigeria's economy.

Sanusi said that about 95 per cent of MSMEs accounting for about 75 per cent of industrial employment 'contribute a mere 10 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)'.

Represented by Mr. Musa Ahmedu, a Deputy Director in CBN, Sanusi said that the trend must be reversed in order to make MSMEs truly the engine of economic growth.

He said the Federal Government had established special financial institutions, including the Small Scale Industry Scheme (SSICSs) and the Nigerian Industrial Development Bank (NIDB) to encourage MSMEs through provision of credit facilities.

The CBN boss listed the Nigerian Bank for Commerce and Industry (NBIC) as one of the institutions that could provide long-term credit facilities to the organised manufacturing sector.

In his speech, Mr Roberts Orya, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM), said that 80 per cent of products financed by the bank were from Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

Orya described SMEs as the engine room of every economy, which 'alleviates poverty and creates wealth', and warned of a looming economic recession, 'which can only be averted through strong SMEs'.

'This gathering will assist in diversifying the economies of member countries through stronger SMEs that thrive well.

'I can foresee another recession, and the only way to avert it and insure ourselves is by encouraging the growth of SMEs.'

On his part, Dr Herbert Ajayi, the President of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), said the meeting provided a platform for SMEs to showcase their products.

He said the display of products, alongside the meeting, would enhance the business scope and reach of participants.

'Therefore, policies that encourage SMEs and the private sector to grow should be implemented.'

Ajayi, who was represented by Dr Solomon Nyagba, the President of the Abuja Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ABUCCIMA), called for improved security for businesses to thrive.

He said that Private Public Partnership (PPP) must be sustained for economic growth, and advised businessmen and operators of SMEs to imbibe the spirit of good business and ethics in business dealings.

Delegations from Nigeria, Iran, Turkey, Indonesia and Egypt are attending the meeting.

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