The Federal Government of Nigeria through its Agency, the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) is planning to involve the private sector in the provision of basic infrastructure to the people.

Speaking on this development in his office in Abuja, the federal capital, the Director-General of the Agency, Muhammad Nadada Umar said the public-private sector partnership (PPP) is needed in the provision of access to affordable power supply, roads, workspace and other sharable facilities for use by small and medium enterprises (SME) operators within the context of cluster parks.

Government’s Initiative to Transform the Economy

He noted that this effort by the federal government will further drive the process of economic transformation in the country. “This includes business education and training for micro, small and medium enterprises operators to improve on their general attitude to starting, running and growing their businesses.”

Umar said that his Agency is at present mobilizing stakeholders in the industry to buy into some of its programs such as the establishment of Business Support Centres (BSCs) and Business Information Centres (BICs), establishment of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund (SMEDEF).

Others are the implementation of the One Local Government, One Product (OLOP) scheme as well as the National Policy on Development of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) formation and strengthening of Cooperatives/Self-Help Groups.

He disclosed that the State Governments, Local Governments and the Private Sector have great roles to play in working with SMEDAN to actualize the transformation of the nation’s economy.

He regretted that Nigeria is currently ranked as one of the 25 poorest economies in the world despite her potentials, stressing the need to adopt a bottom-up programs that are sustainable and measurable for addressing and overcoming the challenges of poverty in the country.

“Addressing the challenges of economic transformation/poverty reduction is beyond media razzmatazz and there is need for partnership building. There is need for attitudinal change amongst leaders on the issue of governance,” he added.

The Revival of OLOP

He said that his Agency is working hard to reactivate the OLOP in order to boost the nation’s economy adding that the implementation of OLOP will be vigorously pursued by the Agency as this would go a long way in reducing the rate of unemployment in the country.

“Nigeria is endowed with significant agricultural, mineral, marine and forest resources, that its, multiple vegetation zones and moderate climate that allows for production of diverse food and cash crops and abundant raw materials spread over the 774 local government areas in Nigeria hence the launching of the OLOP project,” he added.

He pointed out that his Agency is planning to develop a minimum of 10, 000 small businesses which will in turn generate about one million jobs per annum adding that over a period of five years of sufficient and consistent funding, the Agency targets 50, 000 small businesses and five million jobs.

Need to Revive NERFUND

Umar stated that the revival of the National Economic Reconstruction Fund (NERFUND) and allocation of N2billion to it for business financing under the 2009 Supplementary Appropriation clearly demonstrate the federal government’s commitment to the development of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sub-sector widely acknowledged as the engine of economic growth.

“By this development, the federal government has taken a bold step towards addressing the challenge of funding of small businesses. More fiscal interventions are expected in the 2010 Appropriation still under consideration by the National Assembly. At the end of the year, thousands of enterprises are expected to be empowered to create wealth and generate employment”, said Umar.