Bayelsa budgets over N500m to host world SME conference

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The Bayelsa state government has budgeted over N500million to host the 20th World Association for Small and Medium Enterprises, WASME, a global non-governmental organization situated in Noida, India with members spread across the world.

*Mixer for the production of fire bricks

President Goodluck Jonathan is expected to declare the conference open in his home on 30 April 2014 with keynote addresses from Liberian President, Dr Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former Brazilian President.  Inacio Lula Da-Silva and  the Chairman of African Union Commission, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Disclosing the readiness of Bayelsa State Government to host the conference after 10 years, chairman, local organizing committee, Dr. Ebiekure Jasper Eradirii told Journalists in Abuja on Thursday, that Bayelsa State is well prepared in terms of security and facilities to make both local and foreign participants comfortable in the state.

Eradirii said the budget for the four-day conference is a less less that N600 which will be sourced from the state government, institutions corporate and individuals with enough hotels to accommodate the 1,500 participants, adding that a vibrant private sector is essential for promoting growth and development of the Gross State Product, GSP and by extension, the Gross Domestic Product if the country.

Resource persons at the conference, he mentioned include  the host Minister, Nigeria’S Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Olusegun Aganga, Dr Khaled Nagaty, chairman, MetropolitanConsulting, Egypt; Mr Themba Khumala, Chief Operation Executive of MTN Group; Stephane Hogan, Delegation of European Union to African Union, Ethiopian and Nigeria’s chief Folorunsho Alakija, Chairman, Famfa Oil &Gas Ltd among others.

He elucidated that the vision behind establishment of WASME was to build a world private community of small business, their supporting and financial institutions as a non-governmental organization, not influenced by any government.

According to him, “The 20th WASME International Conference on SME will examine past and current challenges of the global SMEs, especially challenges to start-ups on the African continent and best global practices for their upgrade across the value-chain.

Issues to be examined include: What paths have different countries adopted to grow and upgrade their SMEs and what can African start-ups learn from them? What importance do different nations now place on the role of SMEs as the engine of growth of any economies?

What policies, strategies and programmes are being adopted to place small business at the centre of sustained economic growth? How can the bottlenecks to SME Development be addressed?”.

“We are pleased to be the host of 20th WASME edition of International Conference of SME’s (ICSME) holding in Yenagoa City, Bayelsa State, a 30km drive from the Port Harcourt International Airport.

It may interest you to learn that the first Crude Oil in Nigeria discovered in 1956, was in Bayelsa, it is home of aquatic splendor, rich culture/tourism and investment potentials abound”.

He said participants are expected to have arrived Bayelsa on 29 April for the opening ceremony which is on 30 April to 3 May  while departure is on 4 May 2014,

Eradiri who is also the Senior Special Assistant, SSA to the State Governor on SMEs, stated  that the Government is very interested in stimulating the growth and development of SMEs in other to help stimulate the state’s economy.

“The 2014 Conference, the 20th in the series of WASME’s International Conferences on SMEs, hosted by Government of Bayelsa State of Nigeria, at Yenagoa City, Bayelsa State, Nigeria will focus on existing and future policies, programmes and strategies needed to spur renewed growth in the world economy by focusing on SMEs”.

WASME, he remarked, has been spearheading the cause and development of Small and Medium Enterprises, SMEs world over since its inception in 1980 having emerged, over the years, as one of the most representative, effective and leading international organisations promoting of SMEs.

Earlier, Dr Waheed Olagunju, acting Managing Director of the Bank of Industry, the conference is a national event which need all the support and cooperation of stakeholders to see to the success of WASME in Nigeria.

We are confident that deliberations at the Conference will generate several new ideas and concrete suggestions to enhance SME competitiveness and to reform public support systems in the new economic environment”.

Olagunju said the MSMEs play a crucial role in economic development of a country and thus it is important to ensure their sustainable development and ease pressure in an extremely demanding business economy; specifically for developing and underdeveloped countries.

“The promotion of MSMEs, therefore, becomes a major area for policy focus. The regeneration of MSMEs must receive public support particularly for village, cottage and micro level enterprises. Despite their economic significance, MIcro Small & Medium Enterprises, MSMEs face a number of bottlenecks that prevent them from achieving their full potential”

Prominent government agencies expected to play key roles at Conference are Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria, SMEDAN, National Orientation Agency, NOA, Ministry of Foreign Affairs among others.

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