Top officials of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment on Tuesday met in Abuja to chart a new roadmap for the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) sub-sector.
The the meeting, hosted by the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment,Hajia Aisha Abubakar, held behind closed door.
In attendance were heads of relevant agencies under the ministry such as the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Bank of Industry (BOI) and the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON).
Others were the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Industrial Training Fund (ITF), Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), the Permanent Secretary and directors in the ministry.
In her welcome remarks before the meeting went into a closed-door session, the minister described it as the most important meeting to be held in the ministry under the current administration.
Abubakar stated that the meeting was aimed at charting the way forward for the MSME sub-sector under the ministry’s five policy pillars towards diversification of the nation’s economy.
“This meeting is for us to deliberate on the way forward for the SME sub-sector of the nation’s economy.
“We have been talking about diversifying the economy and what the SMEs can do in this regard, but we have not actually sat down as a ministry to strategise on repositioning the sector.
“Therefore, we are going to be discussing a policy framework and what we need to empower our SMEs for them to effectively contribute to the diversification efforts.
“We are looking at the creation of at least 3.5 million additional jobs by SMEs within the next three years, cluster development, capacity building, production quality and many other issues.’’
The Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr Aminu Bisala, highlighted the five policy pillars on which the ministry was pursuing the diversification agenda and urged all hands to be on deck.
Bisala identified the pillars as improving the business environment, leveraging on ICT to make the ministry’s services more accessible to the public and effective implementation of the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP).
Others, according to him, are development of the SME sector and facilitation of inflow of foreign direct investment.
He said, “We are challenged by huge unemployment in spite of the fact that Nigeria is endowed with abundant human and material resources.
“The SMEs are critical to job creation but we have not beenable to fully harness the potential of this important sector.
“We have different SME development programmes already but as the minister rightly said, only a little coordination is required to streamline them effectively.
“I hope after this meeting we will see clearly how we can set achievable timelines so that the impact can be immediately felt,’’ Bisala said