On Lagos’ boost for local products by Tayo Ogunbiyi

At the launch of the first Lagos State Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Fair, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode affirmed that the best way to revive the national economy was to evolve a conscious development of its micro, small and medium enterprises sub-sector. According to the Governor, there was the need to put in place policies and programmes that would boost local production, encourage consumption of same and stimulate exports, to diversify sources of earnings and conserve the nation’s foreign exchange. He further asserted that encouraging and promoting locally produced products remain the only way forward for the resuscitation of the ailing Nigerian economy. In his words: “Our country would develop, overcome its economic challenges and become a global economic hub when Nigerians starts to patronize locally-made products”.

In order to create the conducive environment that will actually stimulate the encouragement of made-in-Nigeria products, the Lagos state government has domesticated the Federal Government’s policy on MSMEs. Similarly, the Ambode administration recently inaugurated the state Council on MSMEs for proper coordination of the MSMEs in the state. The Council would identify MSMEs operating in the state to help enhance their productivity and enable them to serve as the bedrock for the economic development of the state.

It is also important to stress that the Council would be a platform for implementing the five critical policy priorities of the national policy. This includes; enabling a regulatory environment that supports MSMEs; fostering MSME growth and profitability by promoting clusters; facilitating business support services and creating demand for MSMEs’ products and services; improving access to financial support for MSMEs; raising broad-based awareness and appreciation for entrepreneurship and equip a new generation of entrepreneurs with requisite business management skills; and ensuring , through adequate vocational, technical and entrepreneurship training institutions, an adequately skilled workforce that can effectively support the growth of the MSMEs subsector in partnership with strategic MDAs at the federal, state and local government levels; the private sector and the civil society.

As a further step to encourage growth of MSME in the state, the state government recently held the maiden edition of its MSME fair in collaboration with Konga Online Shopping Ltd. The event, which is to be held twice every year, is principally designed to promote locally made products, create employment and generate wealth. The maiden edition availed local producers from across the country the opportunity to exhibit their products for prospective consumers. Governor Ambode was among the numerous callers that were on hand to catch a glimpse of the numerous locally produced items that were on display at the fair. With the coming on board of Konga Online Shopping Ltd into the project, local producers now have a bigger platform through which they could penetrate into the global market.

In order to ensure that the required workforce to enhance the operations of MSMEs in the state is readily and constantly available, the state government is equally boosting technical education in the state. Technical education is the form of education that prepares people for specific trades, crafts and careers at various levels. It is based on manual or practical activities, related to a specific trade, occupation, or vocation. It makes the trainee develop expertise or skill in a particular group of techniques.

As our country aspires to diversify its economy; it is evident that a vital instrument needed for attaining such height is skilled manpower development and a competent workforce. This is necessary for the effective implementation of national development projects and for attracting foreign investors. Current studies have shown that universities, polytechnics, technical/vocational colleges, educational institutions have been largely incoherent with industrial and socio-economic needs due to continuous neglect of technical/vocational education of competence and undue emphases on ‘paper qualification/certification’. This trend has further retarded scientific and technological breakthroughs.

It is in order to reverse this trend that the Lagos state government has been working tirelessly to add value to technical education in the state. At a recent exhibition held in Lagos, tagged “Maker faire Africa”; Lagos State Technical College, Agidingbi made the nation proud with its display of an inverter locally produced and attested to be of international standard by US based programme coordinator, Mr. Emeka Okafor. The device came with circuit diagram which lends credence to the creativity and innovativeness of the students. The state government is equally partnering Samsung in developing technical colleges in the state. As a first step, the state technical college at Agidingbi, is wearing a new look with physical infrastructural development and provision of equipment.

When critically viewed, Lagos’ renewed resolve to promote locally made products; thereby stimulating the growth of the national economy, is a logical move. For one, the State alone accounts for about 3, 224, 324 micro enterprises and 11, 663 small and medium enterprises, the Largest concentration of MSMEs in Nigeria. This implies that Lagos State has a role to play in changing the course of the economy for the better. This is why the state government has provided funding via the State’s Employment Trust Fund, with a seed capital of N25 billion, to address the challenge of access to fund and create the enabling environment for entrepreneurs to thrive. Perhaps, more importantly, the inherent pressure on Lagos in terms of economic migration makes it imperative for the state government to be actively involved in every project that would support the growth of the local economy.

Certainly, the promotion of made-in-Nigeria goods will boost the nation’s manufacturing sector and by extension create more jobs. It is through this that indigenous firms can take advantage of bigger markets at regional, continental and global levels. It is important for the country to appreciate its fundamental dynamics by making policies that will ensure sustainable economic development. Advocating and supporting made- in -Nigeria goods is a sure way to turn around our dwindling economic fortune.

Nigerians should, however, encourage indigenous entrepreneurs by patronizing locally produced goods and services. It is only in doing this that we could develop and transform local industries. There is no country that has managed to transform itself without adequate industrial growth or wholesome dependence on imported goods. Therefore, we need to empower local industries, and this could only be done by embracing locally made goods. Recent giant strides in the cement industry have sufficiently demonstrated that local industries could act as catalysts for economic growth if only the needed impetus for growth and development are put in place.

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