In a compelling address at the 2nd National Conference on Non-Oil Exports, the Honourable Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment, Dr. Doris Uzoka-Anite, outlined the government’s unwavering commitment to enhancing the manufacturing sector and supporting small businesses, positioning them as central pillars for economic growth.
She made the remarks on Wednesday, October 4th at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.
Dr. Uzoka-Anite began by highlighting the critical role of the manufacturing sector in Nigeria’s economic diversification, seizing the need to move away from the historical dependence on oil and gas. The minister disclosed a bold government initiative, earmarking a substantial fund of N75 billion by March 2024 to strengthen the manufacturing sector. This financial injection aims to provide a boost to local manufacturers, foster innovation, and create a conducive environment for growth.
“To support local manufacturers the Federal Government intends to spend N75 billion by March 2024 to strengthen the manufacturing sector”, the mister said.
The minister acknowledged the challenges faced by the manufacturing sector, including issues related to regulations and protection from unfair competition. Dr. Uzoka-Anite assured stakeholders that the government is committed to addressing these concerns, citing the recent milestone achievement of passing the Business Facilitation Act earlier this year. The act is a testament to the government’s dedication to dismantling obstacles to growth and facilitating a more business-friendly environment.
Recognizing the pivotal role of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the economy, the minister announced an additional fund of N75 billion specifically designed to support up to 100,000 start-ups and MSMEs. This financial support, coupled with single-digit interest rates, is aimed at empowering emerging businesses, driving entrepreneurship, and amplifying the impact of these enterprises on job creation and economic growth.
“We have also earmarked another fund of N75 billion that will be used to support up to 100,000 start-ups and MSMEs at single digital interest rates. These schemes are complimented by NEPC incentives like the Export Development Fund that aims to prepare and support new exporters wishing to penetrate global markets, by providing training, trade fair participation, financial, and logistics support”, the minster revealed.
Dr. Uzoka-Anite emphasized the need to create an enabling environment for the business community, ensuring that entrepreneurs have access to the necessary resources and support to thrive. The financial support initiative aligns with the government’s commitment to fostering a robust ecosystem for SMEs, allowing them to play a more significant role in the nation’s economic landscape.
The minister acknowledged the existence of challenges impeding business growth, including the multiple exchange rate system and fuel subsidies. Dr. Uzoka-Anite reassured stakeholders of the government’s commitment to dismantling such barriers through comprehensive initiatives like the Ease of Doing Business program. She highlighted the recent passage of the Business Facilitation Act as a milestone toward creating a business-friendly environment.
In terms of hard infrastructure, the minister provided insights into ongoing efforts to enhance infrastructure essential for exports. Lagos, a key economic hub, now boasts a modern deep-sea port and an upgraded port facility connected to a new Standard Gauge Rail line. These developments are poised to contribute to faster and more efficient evacuation of inbound and outbound cargo, significantly impacting the ease of doing business in the country.
Dr. Uzoka-Anite’s comprehensive address showcased the government’s commitment to revitalizing the manufacturing sector and empowering small businesses. The financial injections and regulatory reforms underscore the government’s proactive approach to addressing challenges, fostering innovation, and creating an environment conducive to sustainable economic growth. As Nigeria looks to diversify its economy and reduce reliance on oil, these initiatives signal a new era for the manufacturing and SME sectors, driving Nigeria toward a more resilient and diversified economic future.