By most accounts, the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) and the National Enterprise Development Programme (NEDEP) are aimed at spurring the growth of the Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) sector.
The two programmes were launched by President Goodluck Jonathan on Feb. 11 in Abuja.
Jonathan said at the inauguration that the programmes, particularly the NIRP, would provide a comprehensive roadmap for transforming the nation’s industrial landscape, boosting skills’ development and enhancing job creation, among others.
According to him, NEDEP alone is capable of creating 3.5 million jobs across the country by reinforcing the activities of MSMEs.
Besides, Jonathan observed that NIRP would boost the revenue of Nigerian manufacturers, while fast-tracking the country’s economic and industrial growth.
“ NIRP and NEDEP are targeted at transforming Nigerian businesses and changing the lives of the ordinary people.
“The programmes will accelerate inclusive growth and job creation, while stemming the drain on our foreign reserves caused by importing what we can produce locally.
“NEDEP has placed micro, small and medium enterprises at the centre of our national economic policy; our vision is to take this new model for national enterprise development to all the 774 local governments in our country,’’ he said.
Pledging the Federal Government’s commitment to the programmes, Jonathan said that his administration would set up a council, comprising the federal, state and local governments, to regulate the activities of small and medium enterprises across the country.
“We will not only sustain the momentum of the NIRP and NEDEP programmes but we will also expand their impacts and reach,’’ he added.
Judging by economists’ assessment, the MSMEs sector is one of the most important sectors of Nigerian economy.
Analysts argue that the sector comprises a greater percentage of businesses in Nigeria and contributes 75 per cent of the country’s employment.
Available data from the National Bureau of Statistic also indicate that out of the 17.2 million MSMEs in the country, over 17 million of them are micro enterprises.
Observers insist that in spite of challenges facing the growth of MSMEs in the country, the sector contributes about 75 per cent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and provides jobs for many Nigerians.
Analysts, therefore, agree that a nurtured and well-structured MSMEs sector can contribute more significantly to employment generation, wealth creation, poverty reduction and sustainable economic growth in the country.
They, nonetheless, call for the introduction of pragmatic measures to address some of the challenges hindering the growth of MSMEs in the country.
However, Alhaji Bature Masari, the Director-General, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), says that NEDEP was initiated to address some of the challenges.
According to him, NEDEP is planning to generate about five million direct and indirect jobs between 2013 and 2015.
“The entrepreneurship training/business development service component is being implemented on the platform of `One Local Government; One Product’.
“The access to finance component is overseen by the Bank of Industry (BOI), while the skills acquisition programme is handled by the Industrial Training Fund (ITF).
“The `One Local Government; One Product’ programme is guided by research that is based on the experiences of successful similar enterprise development initiatives in Africa and Asia and pilot projects in Kano State and Niger,’’ he says.
Masari says that SMEDAN recently conducted sensitisation/needs’ assessment programme in 22 states, adding that agro-allied products were selected in each of the local government areas of the selected states, based on their comparative and competitive advantages.
He says that arrangements have been concluded on when to implement the programme in the remaining 14 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
“The agency has also conducted baseline surveys and value-chain analyses in six pilot states — Benue Anambra, Lagos, Bauchi, Bayelsa and Kano — while plans are underway to conduct this activity in the remaining 30 states and the FCT,’’ he says.
Masari says that cooperative societies and trade associations are being formed, registered and assisted to develop bankable business plans, as a prelude to plans to give them access to finance, markets and equipment.
“More than 2,500 out of 21,834 cooperative societies across the country and their business plans have been handed over to BOI for appraisal and eventual financing,’’ he adds.
The director-general says that SMEDAN is also planning to build the capacity of the various cooperative societies that benefited from NEDEP nationwide.
On the sustainability of the programmes, Dr Olusegun Aganga, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, stresses that NIRP and NEDEP should adopt inclusive structures, which involve other government agencies and the private sector, to ensure adequate policy synergy.
He, however, pledges his ministry’s cooperation with all the stakeholders in efforts to ensure the successful implementation of the programmes.
Although the general consensus of opinion is that NIRP and NEDEP are vital economic development tools, analysts, nonetheless, underscore the need for timely and adequate funding of specific schemes of the programmes.
They insist that a strong political will and adequate funding of the programmes will spur wealth creati
on, poverty alleviation and massive rural industrialisation in the country.