By Peter Osalor
In Nigeria, shaping the future beyond oil is a critical part of the national agenda. The current economy is dominated by the oil industry. The labour force of 47 million is growing, as is the unemployment rate currently at 20%, with millions of workers underemployed. Nigeria has the largest domestic market in Africa, a wide range of natural resources, and a diversely skilled labour pool. Given these economic realities, the country must constantly create new jobs, and diversify the industrial and commercial sector to take advantage of human and natural resources.
The entrepreneurial activities have been found to be capable of making impact on the economy of a nation and quality of life of the people through economic growth; employment generation and empowerment of the disadvantaged segment of the population, which include women and the poor.
Entrepreneurial development will encourage entrepreneurs to create new enterprises, new commercial activities, and new economic sectors. They will generate jobs for others; produce goods and services for society; introduce new technologies and improve or lower cost out puts; and earn foreign exchange through export expansion or the substitution of imports.
Entrepreneurial development will mobilise domestic savings and utilisation of local resources. The SMEs will serve as good agent for disposal of industrial products and some services and contribute immensely to production of raw materials in the form of Semi – processed goods for use by bigger Industries.
Entrepreneurial Development is also a base for development of appropriate technology which will provide a veritable ground for skilled, unskilled, semi – skilled workers; it will also provide productive self – employment to a number of educated and less educated young men and women graduates.
As Nigeria pursues the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS), the millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and Vision 2020, a core part of the national strategy must be to grow and strengthen the vibrant elements of the MSME, largely informal business sector. As a nation Nigeria cannot afford not to – invest in MSMEs. The country’s economic future depends on it.
Much of the activities in the informal economy go unreported. There are already existing governmental policies and activities which have helped spur entrepreneurship. Elements of SAP policy (1986), The National Directorate of Employment (NDE) and the Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) have all contributed to entrepreneurship and enterprise growth in Nigeria. SMEDAN sponsors and supervises entrepreneurship ventures while the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) provides financial support to entrepreneurs through the Small and Medium Enterprise Equity Investment Scheme (SMEEDS) of 2001. In addition, amendments to the indigenization decree in 1988, 1989 and 1995 boosted the development of indigenous Entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurship has many multiplier effects on the economy, spurs innovation, and fosters investment in people, which is better of competitive advantage than other natural resources, which can be depleted. Though the rate of unemployment is still high, suffice to say that entrepreneurial development has helped in providing a safety net for some group of people, especially in the hidden economy or informal sector.
It is noted that currently “at 69% of GNP the country’s informal economy is estimated to be one of the ten highest in the world, along with such countries as Georgia, Bolivia, Tanzania, Peru, and Azerbaijan and 21st in the world on GDP” It is estimated that 90% of all new jobs created in the informal sector are SMEs. Oil contributes about 9% to the GDP, though Nigeria produces about 2.7% of the world oil supply (In comparison, Saudi Arabia produces 12.9%, Russia produces 12.7% and United States produces 8.6%. The government still heavily rely on it for revenue generation.
This heavily dependence on oil has killed our local industries, frustrated our Agricultural sector and caused us economic recession, we can’t continue like this, we need to focus on entrepreneurial Development.