By Yinka Kolawole
The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has said that over 1,500 micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) will benefit directly from the first phase of the shared facility scheme being facilitated by the federal government.
Osinbajo stated this at the 2nd National MSME Awards held at the old Banquet Hall of the State House, Abuja, adding that the scheme will commence in the first quarter of 2020.
The Vice President explained that the project will provide MSMEs with affordable shared access to essential amenities such as power, high quality operating equipment, broadband connectivity as government works aimed at reducing the cost of their operation. The scheme, he added, would be executed in partnership with Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Bank of Industry (BoI), Nigerian Export and Import Bank (NEXIM) and other private sector organisations.
Osinbajo noted that already two of the shared facilities have been established in Bauchi and Oyo states, adding that the scheme would be extended to all states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT), with a minimum of one shared facility each located in identified clusters where MSMEs already operate in significant numbers.
Some of the identified clusters, he noted, include Ogbunike, Anambra State; Ikot Abasi, Akwa Ibom State; Computer Village, Lagos State; Ukum, Benue State; Wamakko, Sokoto State; Soba, Kaduna State; Egbe Eyewa, Ogun State and Arochukwu, Abia State.
According to him, government is working hard to change the orientation of regulators to align with its policy of driving the growth of MSMEs in the country.
He stated: “We recognise that our future national prosperity will be consummated by the handshake between the business environment and talents and creativity. This is why we have been working hard on changing the orientation of our regulators even as we digitalize their operations. And there has been progress. Regulators are becoming more attuned to the notion that they are first facilitators before being the commercial police and standards enforcers.”
He added that various government agencies and institutions such as Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN), BoI, NEXIM, and the new NIRSAL Microfinance Bank, among others are working hard to facilitate access to low-cost financing for MSMEs.
“We are also working with commercial banks to see how we can quickly achieve single digit interest rates for loans to MSMEs, with tenor of between 5 to 10 years, and a repayment moratorium of a minimum of one year in each case,” he added.