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Buhari pledges improved support for MSMEs as Abuja trade fair opens

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President Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday, opened the 17th edition of the Abuja International Trade Fair, pledging to ensure improved support and a business environment to boost micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Nigeria.

The 2022 trade fair organised by the Abuja Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), has the theme “creating an export-ready market through SME digitisation.” It is hosting 500 exhibitors, 10,000 products and over 100,000 visitors.

The president said the fair was known to be playing an important role in driving the economic growth of the country, building wealth, improving foreign reserves, and was key to ending poverty, raising standards of living and improving productivity.

According to Buhari, who was represented by the minister of industry trade and investment, Niyi Adebayo, “no economy can thrive” without robust trade. The president added that MSMEs were also critical to the stimulation of economic development.

“Nigeria is estimated to be home to over 40 million MSMEs which, together, contribute about 48 percent of our GDP. Many of us just see MSMEs as the “mama that fries Akara or the friendly ‘Malam’ that owns the kiosk on our street. That is not the case; some of the fastest growing Fintech start-ups in Africa are, in fact, MSMEs,” the president said.

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Buhari said the Federal Government was keen to help MSMEs achieve their full potential, and has developed strategic policy interventions, enshrined laws and established institutions to create a supportive business environment for entrepreneurs and MSMEs. In line with this, he stated that the ministry of industry trade and investment has developed a programme that will enhance access to credit for over 10 million MSMEs at a single digit rate, among other initiatives.

“While the Federal Government is doing its part, we need to rethink our impression that MSMEs are small businesses and focus on how they can be energised as a vehicle for economic growth. As always, the government remains committed to ensuring ease of doing business and creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive,” he said.

Al Mujtaba Abubakar, president, Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in his welcome address said the Abuja trade fair has, since inception, served Nigeria as a global trade destination and a potential market for over 50,000 consumers. The fair, he added, has also provided an avenue for the distribution of trade, investment, market opportunities, and ideas that would greatly help sellers, buyers, investors, and countries to promote relationships in business.

Abubakar said the 17th edition of the trade fair was focused on exports hence, the choice of the theme.

“Aside from promoting businesses, the 17th AITF will also strengthen trade and investment opportunities in the country, thus, offering a neutral and open atmosphere for blue chip companies, trade groups/associations, and government,” Abubakar added.