By Emeka Anaeto, Economy Editor
There are indications that the organised private sector involved in the micro, small and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs) are taken bold steps to change their fortunes positively in the face of apparent lack of government commitment to promoting the sector. Chairman of Lagos chapter of the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME), Mr. Ladi Jemi-Alade, told Vanguard last week that the association is engaging a world’s leading business management consultancy firm to design and articulate an SME policy and strategic framework for Nigerian government and other stakeholders in the sector.
He said when this is completed the stakeholders will lobby for national adoption and implementation, a development if successfully carried out, will provide a unified and focused approach to the sector development for the first time in the history of MSME development campaign in Nigeria. Jemi-Alade had described the existing government policies and activities in the sector as unserious and lacking in ingredients that would have made a success out of the huge resources being pumped into promotional activities by both private and public sector institutions which have little or no direct impact on the sector and the operators.
Some of the unseriousness, according to him is manifested in terms of vague data that lack credibility being bandied about as the statistics of MSMEs population and profile in Nigeria as well as funding, extension activities and public policy governance. He said that though most government policies on the sector indicate that government understands the potentials and the need for a vibrant MSME sector in Nigeria, there is no corresponding actions to realise the potentials.
Jemi-Alade lamented that now the big global retail chains are coming into the country with huge cash spending by Nigerians on the products on their shelf there are little or no Nigerian products to be patronised by the shoppers, instead the shops are flooded with imported goods, especially those that could easily be produced in Nigeria.
He lamented that though the retail giants were given concessions to bring in those goods no effort has been made by government to curtail and place a time line and limits within which a domestication should begin to apply. According to him ‘’there must be conscious effort to protect and promote local industries’’.
He said government’s policies should focus on strengthening made in Nigerian products and the manufacturers of these products with funding and knowledge as well as trade policy protection. He noted that since many of the products in question are agro-based where Nigeria has comparative advantage the government will find it easy to successfully develop the sector if the policies are right with the necessary incentives.
He also noted that ‘’though Nigeria has advantage in other areas too but the issue is that since we have been in export of raw materials we can easily develop processing areas including solid minerals. That is the missing link. We don’t have processing industry with a lot of multiplier effects in key areas such as petroleum, palm oil, etc’’
The NASME boss remarked that the drop in oil prices is a blessing in disguise though it may take some time before Nigeria starts seeing the positive results depending on how the challenges are turned around for domestic economy.