Experts at a webinar organised by Wema Bank last Thursday have advocated for petrol subsidy removal to boost the growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the country.
The webinar brought together a panel of experts, including Momoh Jimah Oyarekhua, Chairman of OPAC Refineries; Chika Mbonu, a seasoned macroeconomic and financial expert; and Abdulrashid Yerima, President of the Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME).
The panellists provided an in-depth analysis of the economic impacts of fuel subsidy removal on the Nigerian economy, particularly on the cost of living for the citizens, the ease of doing business for SMEs, and the indigenous petroleum industry.
They opined that the fuel subsidy should be removed, as it presents significant opportunities for SMEs to innovate and grow, although the removal may result in short-term pain for the Nigerian populace.
The panellists, however, charged the government to put measures in place to cushion the effects of the fuel subsidy removal on growing businesses and vulnerable Nigerians.
They also advocated for the exploration and adoption of alternative energy sources, such as renewable and clean energy, to reduce Nigeria’s reliance on oil revenues.
During the webinar, Tunde Mabawonku, executive director, of Wema Bank said the bank’s commitment to providing SMEs in Nigeria with all the support they need to navigate challenging economic times and empowering them with the knowledge, skills, and financing required to leverage the attendant opportunities.
Dotun Ifebogun, the Divisional Head, Retail Business, announced that SMEs and individuals could obtain low-interest loans from Wema Bank to purchase clean energy solutions like solar panels, inverters, and batteries.
This initiative is part of the bank’s efforts to cushion the effects of high energy costs on SMEs in Nigeria.
SMEs account for 96 percent of businesses and 84 percent of employment creation in Nigeria, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. With a total number of about 17.4 million, they account for about 50 percent of industrial jobs and nearly 90 percent of the manufacturing sector.
Transitioning to renewables will reduce their reliance on grid electricity and petrol or diesel generators, which will lead to significant cost savings and increase their profitability, allowing them to reinvest in their businesses and create more jobs. It will also help them to reduce their carbon footprint, contribute to the fight against climate change and improve the health and well-being of Nigerians.