Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga said the present administration has put in place necessary structures needed for the development of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in the country.Speaking when he paid an unscheduled visit to the Headquarters of Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) in Abuja Monday, Aganga noted that the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) remained critical to the development of the country’s economy.
“For the first time in this country, we have a government that fully appreciates the strategic importance of MSMEs and has gone ahead to put up structures to move the sector forward”.
“The federal government launched the National Enterprises Development Programme, NEDEP last year, specifically to address the challenges confronting the MSMEs in the country”. Aganga said
He pointed out that through NEDEP, the seven problems identified as major impediments to MSME development in the country would be tackled particularly the access to finance. He further stated that President Jonathan’s inauguration of the National Council on MSMEs with Vice President Namadi Sambo as its Chairman as well as the setting up of States councils on MSMEs in states of the federation was a testimony to the federal government’s firm resolve to revolutionise MSMEs in Nigeria.
Aganga also noted that the launching of the N220 Billion MSME fund by Mr. President last year is also a pointer to the fact that MSME is a top priority of the present government; this is the only government that has put up a structure for the development of the MSMEs.
On the issue of access to finance Aganga said the government is making efforts to ensure MSMEs have access to affordable finance through the N220billion MSME fund, adding we are going to make sure the CBN guidelines make it easier for MSMEs to access that fund. The Minister said the sector will witness big changes this year adding the President has already approved that the 23 Industrial Development Centres IDCs be converted to Industrial Parks where MSMEs will have access to electricity and water and other incentives.
‘We need to realise that one area that is so critical to economic development and job creation and is so critical in lifting people from poverty is the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector’, he said. He disclosed that the administration has equally opened SMEDAN offices in every state of the federation so as to bring the benefits of the sector closer to the people.
Aganga commended the Director General of SMEDAN and his team for improving the lots of MSMEs in Nigeria, he said, ‘I came to thank the management and staff of the Agency for a job well done in 2014 and to encourage them and make sure they know we have a big programme at hand’, adding that development of the MSME sector is what Nigeria requires today and that is the game changer on the economic front for the country.
The minister called on Nigerians to exercise patience because in the next three to six months the big changes in the sector would manifest itself, adding that the future of MSMEs in the country is very bright. In his remark, the Director General of SMEDAN Bature Umar Masari thanked the Minister for the visit and assured him that the Agency was determined to support him in ensuring that the Transformation Agenda of Mr. President is on course.
Bature said the staffs are now more than ever committed to contribute their quota to ensure that Nigeria develops to the level that everybody will be happy. He added that the Agency was doing its best to ensure the full implementation of the NEDEP programme. He said state governors are beginning to appreciate the importance of NEDEP and are partnering with the agency to ensure the NEDEP programme is implemented in their states.
The Director General commended Aganga for initiating the idea of setting up the National Council on Micro Small and Medium Enterprises. He said the council has been able to bring together major stakeholders of MSMEs in Nigeria, and that singular action has brought about lots of changes and progress in what the agency does and in what Nigerians expected the government to do on MSME development.
He informed the Minister that SMEDAN was nominated as the most active and vibrant Government Agency of the year 2014 by a major national newspaper. The leadership and the award ceremony is slated for next month, Alhaji Masari dedicated the award to the minister for his driving force and support to the Agency.