The Nigerian Government is set to create over 40,000 jobs through the Growth and Employment Project under the Business Innovation and Growth (BIG) platform, which has been launched in the country.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah while launching the platform revealed that the BIG platform will serve as the Channel through which the Growth and Employment Project will be made available to Micro Small and Medium scale Enterprises (MSMEs).
According to the Minister, “the project estimates that at the end of its life span which is three years, we would have at least created 40,000 direct jobs and many other indirect jobs and I hope we exceed our own expectations.
The GEM Project according to him is a major initiative aimed at stimulating job creation through the growth of specific, high potential, non-oil sectors namely: ICT, Construction. Entertainment, light manufacturing including agro-processing, Hospitality and Tourism.
“The BIG platform will channel training, consultancy services and Grants to MSMEs based on the gaps that have been identified.” the Minister disclosed.
He added that the Federal Government intends to create industrial clusters so as to pool resources together and increase productivity, adding that his Ministry has provision for Clustering in its 2016 budget and that the fund will be judiciously spent on carrying out the project.
“The BIG platform for which we have gathered here to launch today will create employment through fostering the growth of Micro Small and Medium scale Enterprises (MSMEs) which I consider the unsung heroes of our economy.
“If you look at what the formal economy captures, there is a lot that is not captured that is in the MSMEs. I believe that as we move forward, these businesses will also create the path for unlocking the breakthrough that we are expecting to see in Nigeria.
“For Nigeria, our population is both the opportunity and the challenge. If we don’t solve it, it is like a ticking time bomb, if we solve it, it will make us truly great and therefore this government has wisely focused on job creation, inclusive growth and economic prosperity as without any shadow of doubt, the most important things we want to deliver to Nigerians.
Enelamah further assured that FG is very passionate about providing security and making sure that corruption does not become a barrier to our continued development.
“We are very passionate about creating employment for our teeming people. Nigeria’s growth averaged 6% between 2005 and 2014, the sad thing about this growth is that it didn’t really translate into jobs, this is something the Economists have described as “Jobless Growth problem.
“According to a World Bank study, unemployment can either be attributed to Economy not generating enough jobs or the qualifications of those asking for employment do not match the skills demanded by the labour market.
“In our case there are many bottlenecks that do not support competition and Private sector investments and the kind of jobs we want to create but we are committed to solving these problems.” he said.
Enelamah expressed optimism about the success of the GEM project adding that FG will address the challenges posed by the169th position ranking out of 189 countries on the “Ease of Doing Business Ranking”, adding that the Ministry is already discussing with World Bank officials on the matter.
While acknowledging the World Bank, and the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) for their support towards the project, the Minister expressed optimism that his Ministry will work with them on so many projects, adding that the importance of the institutions in developmental projects cannot be overemphasised.
Meanwhile, the World Bank country Programme Director for Nigeria. Mr. Rachid Benmessaoud, in his speech at the event, stated that “enterprise surveys rank access to finance, power, infrastructure, taxes and corruption as major constraints.”
He also expressed optimism that the GEM project will make resources available to help address some of the key constraints identified by business, with a particular emphasis on MSMES, which are widely regarded as a vital engine for growth and job creation.