The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment has urged its critical stakeholders to ensure full activation of the six private sector-led Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in the country to spur development.
Mr Edet Akpan, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, made the call on Tuesday in Uyo at the opening of its 11th meeting of the National Council on Industry, Trade and Investment.
Akpan, while listing the six economic zones as Lekki, Eyimba, Funtua, Ibom, Kano and Benue, said that there would be at least one agro-processing zone in each senatorial district in the country.
He considered it imperative for the critical stakeholders to accord details in priority areas of the ministry’s responsibilities in order to meet the expectations of the present administration.
He urged the stakeholders to ensure credit access to 10 million Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) at single digit interest rate and also assist in securing 500 million dollars from African Development Bank fund for technology innovation and ICT development.
“It is required of us to automate and digitise trade certification process, issuance of licences and permits to save time, increase efficiency and reduce cost of doing businesses.
“We will conclude and implement outstanding industrial and trade guidelines, including cassava and dairy industries. There is need to work with agencies to reduce the cost and ease the process of exporting locally produced goods,’’ he said.
He further called for compliance with Local Content Act and Executive Order 3 to improve local content untilisation and enactment of the Company and Allied Matters bill and other pending legislative reforms.
The meeting, holding from Monday to Friday, has its theme as “The Role of Small and Medium Businesses in Poverty Alleviation in Nigeria: The Way Forward”.
Akpan said that the theme was apt considering the commitment of the Federal Government to address critical economic challenges confronting the country with a set target of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years.
“We are expected to implement a strategy towards the realisation of Mr President’s June 12 promise to take 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years.
“The minister on behalf of the stakeholders in the sector has signed pact with the Federal Government to drive policies, programmes and other initiatives that would facilitate the realisation of the promise,’’ he said.
Akpan also listed some government key intervention and strategic measures towards strengthening MSMEs as National Policy on MSMEs and promotion of development of One Local Government, One Product (OLOP) for MSMEs.
Others he mentioned were Conditional Grant Scheme, Industrial Development Centres, AfDB initiatives and National Industrial Skills Development Programme (NISDP).
“Having signed the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement we must fully be awake and alive to our responsibilities. It mandates us to enhance our competitiveness and exploit for gains of all,’’ he said.
In a remark, Mr Babura Inuwa, the Director, Policy, Planning, Research and Statistics of the ministry, said that the high standard of memorandum from the council would be of great consideration by the ministry.
Inuwa commended the stakeholders, members of the National Assembly, its parastatals and agencies for their tremendous participation and support toward national development.