The importance of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in ensuring economic growth and promoting youth inclusiveness in the regional development of the Niger Delta has been emphasized.
The emphasis was made at the maiden edition of the Niger Delta Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises Summit 2021 held at the Aztech Event Centre, Port Harcourt, Rivers State on Friday.
Delivering his opening remarks at the event, the Convener of the Summit and Chairman Mosilo Group, Mr Moses Siloko Siasia noted that the greatest contributory factor to the growth in Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is a collection of the committed efforts from young people, including youths of the Niger Delta, who are resilient and passionate about building industries and promoting economic prosperity.
Mr Siasa who is also the Founder of Nigerian Young Professionals Forum (NYPF) and Niger Delta Young Professionals – the umbrella under which the summit was organized – observed that youths in the Niger Delta and Nigeria at large are often neglected and denied support by government and relevant agencies despite being the the greatest contributory factor to the growth in Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The convener went on to bemoan the dearth of concerted effort to harness and grow the potentials of the youths who been at the forefront of pioneering growth and innovations in technology, agriculture, entertainment, medicine, engineering and sports which have brought in revenues for the country and have also boosted the image of the country.
According to him: “the success of Niger Delta depends on the efforts of the youths, and as the world is looking beyond oil today, a comprehensive and well-coordinated institutional support for youths in Niger Delta should be topmost in the development agenda,” adding that it was on that premise that the Niger Delta Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Summit was organized with the vision to create a Niger Delta Entrepreneurship Hub which will provide training, funding, mentorship, and support for small businesses in the region.
Mr Siasia therefore advocated for the establishment of a Niger Delta Entrepreneurship Hub, a platform that will train, equip and engage teeming Niger Delta youths with a view to creating sustainable livelihood opportunities for them, as opposed to reliance on stipends which has reduced youths in the region to beggars.
He outlined other Initiatives under the Niger Delta Entrepreneurship Hub as the implementation of a workable Niger Delta Entrepreneurship, Dev Fund, which will give life to only serious MSME with a genuine need for equipment purchase, expansion, export, technology acquisition, and packaging and to ensure a workable Engagement/Youth Development Policy, backed by the law of Niger Delta State Houses of Assembly.
“The implementation will enable us institutionalize proper access to opportunities both at the state and federal level,” he said.
Also delivering his remarks at the event, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitory Board (NCDMB), Engr. Simbi Wabote observed that there is an emerging global economic order which the youths should brace up and be a part of its evolution.
According to him: “We need to continue with the effort to grow the MSME by challenging young people to engage strategically, to strive, and to compete in the new world economic order”.
While noting that energy transition has become an immediate reality for which everyone interested in economic development should be mindful of – especially the youths of the Niger Delta, – the NCDMB boss went on to address five fundamental issues that he said were critical to various MSME interventionist efforts.
Engr Wabote noted that the MSME which is the engine room of the Nigerian economy is fraught with numerous challenges that need to be adressed.
According to him, there have been several interventions by the present administration, led by President Mohammed Buhari, which are geared towards enabling the growth of small businesses, including the ease of doing business policy, TraderMoni, and others meant to enable MSMEs in the country.
Speaking further, Engr Wabote said “the efforts of the current federal government to enable MSME include the Federal government intervention fund at single digit, the presidential effort to remove an obstacle for businesses to thrive with ease of registration of business with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), ongoing efforts to construct or rehabilitate more roads and bridges to enable movement of people and goods, the various technology policies to drive innovation and the anchor borrows programs, trader money, agric business intervention scheme, etc”
He highlighted the NCDMB special interventions on MSME growth to include the deployment of partway to stimulate growth in the areas of enterprise development, funding, and human capital development.
Engr. Wabote worried that at the pace at which energy transition is going, Niger Delta crude oil may end up as the coal in Enugu, where oil will disappear without fulfilling its full potentials. He said by 2040 more than 25% of vehicles worldwide will come from electric cars saying that has brought home the need to have a growth part for new and sustainable businesses in the region.
On his part, the interim administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Mr. Efiong Akwa called for greater investment in MSMEs as a way to create sustainable jobs and to boost the economy of the region. He said the NDDC is undergoing a crucial transformation by way of the ongoing forensic audit, however, that the agency will continue to support the growth of businesses in the region.