Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said the government can no longer afford to treat the micro, small and medium enterprises with a carefree attitude as the sector is capable of changing the narrative of Nigeria’s economy.
He said with an estimated 40 million Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, which together account for 50% of Nigeria’s GDP and 88% of employment, there is never a more important sector for the growth of the Nigerian economy than the MSME sector.
The Vice President who spoke at the launching of the forum of micro, small and medium enterprise business membership organizations of Nigeria (MSMES Forum) in Abuja indicated that “Nigeria cannot afford to deal with this critical sector in a ‘Business as Usual’ manner” thus the “government has therefore been committed to establishing a strong foundation for a diversified economy through enhancing and promoting robust MSME growth.”
The Vice President was represented by the Snr Technical Assistance to the President on Development Policies in the office of the Vice President, Dr Akin Soetan.
According to the VP, he has personally maintained a solid and unwavering commitment to the development of the MSME sector over the years and has participated in MSME clinics organized by his office in conjunction with State Governments across the length and breadth of the country.
He said what has excited him the most about the MSME Forum has been the involvement of the private sector and the engagement of a wide range of stakeholders in its development, including academia and research agencies where the necessary research and development takes place that can revolutionize the performance of the sector, MDAs, State Governments, royal houses, Development Partners, foreign governments that can invest in our industries, and support the development of the sector, just to mention a few.
“That the initiative is private sector led is of utmost importance because it does not need the government to drive it. We can trust the private sector to create the necessary communities of practice that will engender growth in the different subsectors and build the necessary relationships with authorities across the country and other institutions and businesses outside the country” he noted.
He promised that the “government will focus more on improving processes and creating the required environment for MSMEs to grow and prosper through several organizations.”
He said the Forum, therefore, promises to strengthen the MSME sector to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the African Continental Free Trade Area. Nigeria has a higher comparative advantage in most of the World Trade Organization (WTO) trade-in-services categories than many African countries.
“These are all areas that an organized MSME sector can take advantage of. Access to financing, training, and capacity building, guidance by a dedicated and committed private sector led forum can make a massive difference in Nigeria, to the creation of opportunities and wealth for businesses, jobs in the country and steady growth for our economy” he noted.