• Saturday, July 13, 2024
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Insecurity, infrastructural deficit limit Nigerian businesses from harnessing AfCFTA opportunities

Domestic capital seen as missing piece in Nigeria’s infrastructure puzzle

The Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises has said that the high insecurity rate and the infrastructural deficit across the country pose a major threat to their harnessing opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Ubadigbo Okonkwo, Chairman, NASME 2020 AGM Electoral Committee, stated this at the 18th Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Summit and Exhibition in Abuja. He said the sector has consistently suffered a lack of access to finance, insecurity, multiple Taxation, deficient physical infrastructure especially power and roads, and lack of effective demand.

He insisted that a holistic and proactive approach to addressing the constraints will help position MSMEs for AfCFTA opportunities.

Okonkwo said “Federal and state governments should mandate their contractors and suppliers to prioritize the use of made in Nigeria goods and services in the execution of all government-funded projects.

Also, the federal government should strengthen the National MSME Clinic to deliver MSME- friendly policies during the National Development Plan (2022-2025).

Read also: Achieving decent employment in Nigeria through fiscal and monetary policies

Government should recapitalize government-owned finance institutions (DFIs), including a key of Industry (BOI), Bank of Agriculture (BOA), Nigeria Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) and the Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN) to enable them to expand concessionary lending to MSMEs at single-digit rates of interest.” He concluded

In his remarks, Abdulrashid Yerima, president and chairman of council NASME, urged SME’s to prioritize standardization of goods in order to promote competitiveness in the African market.

“The major challenges we are facing is lack of patronage which comes as a result of lack of competitiveness. We need to reposition the SMEs to benefit from AfCFTA being that we have the largest economy and population in Africa. We are here with different experts to understand what changes in terms of the standard are required of us to be in the African market.” He explained.

Garba Ibrahim, former president, NASME, also stressed that SMEs must improve product quality and competitiveness to increase market share and benefit from the Free Trade Area.

He further stated “Nigerian governments must be ready to adjust her jurisdictional control over many matters that affect investment landscape of the country, such as trade in goods and services, issues related to customs clearance, forfeiting customs revenue, granting rights to private parties from other African countries, enforcing standards and quality on goods being produced, maintenance of appropriate health and safety, preventing illicit practices, and adopting the new domestic rules and procedures as required by the AfCFTA.

“Nigeria can gain more if the implementation process is addressed genuinely, for instance, the country requires infrastructure such as the power to enable it to enhance its competitiveness. Another major challenge is the influx of fake goods into the continent. All these must be handled properly,” Ibrahim concluded.