Niger State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani-Bello has identified the development of Small and Medium scale Enterprise (SME) as the catalyst that can boost the economic development of the country.
He stated this in Abuja on Tuesday in a keynote address at the 2018 NACC-SME Conference and Training Workshops organized by Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce, Kaduna State and Embassy of the United States of America, Economic Affairs Section, Nigeria
The theme of the three day conference was, “Innovative Entrepreneurship and Access to Domestic and Foreign Markets”.
Governor Sani-Bello who spoke on “Growing the Economy through bottom-up Entrepreneurship and Investment Opportunities in Niger State” noted that developing SMEs would not only help in economic growth, it would serve as a mechanism for job creation for the teeming youths in the country.
He noted that the development of SMEs is a panacea to the increasing population of unemployed youth in the country, stressing that SMEs ” have a vital role to play in the country’s overall production networks and is core to economic development of Nigeria.
“To avoid the emerging challenges due to increase in the country’s population, government at all levels need to ensure the development of SMEs so that it can serve as a mechanism that will engage the youths within the shortest possible time.
“The way forward is the development of small and medium scale enterprises. This will help create job opportunities and increase the growth of our economy. To me this the only way our country can move forward”. He said.
Highlighting the potentials of the state as part of efforts to woo investors to the state, the Governor disclosed that the state is endowed with numerous mineral resources, arable land for agricultural activities and many tourist sites.
According to him, “Niger State has the largest landmass in the country; it constitutes 10 percent of the total landmass of the entire country, out of which 85 percent is arable. The “Power State”, is home to three of the major Hydro Electric Dams in Nigeria, namely Kainji, Jebba and Shiroro. The fourth Dam, which is under construction in Zungeru, is expected to add about 700mega watt of electricity to the national grid. This confirms the potentials for renewable energy source.
“Niger State is a major link between the Southwest and Northwestern parts of the country, with the capital city, Minna just a two-hour’s drive away from Abuja FCT. Minna railway station serves as a stop-over for Kano-Lagos rail line. With an International Airport conveniently served as an alternative to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja during its closure for expansion; the airport can conveniently serve as a Cargo Airport.
“Niger State is also endowed with large deposit of natural resources ranging from crude oil at the Bida Basin, gold, copper, tin, iron ore, tantalite, kaolin and clay. It should interest you to know that largely the potentials in the mining sector are wholly untapped and open for investment.
“Similarly, there are abound tourism potentials for investment, we have over 65 tourist sites among which include the Zuma Rock, Baro Empire Hills, Nagwamatse Well, Mongo Park Cenotaph and Gurara water falls.”
Governor Sani-Bello then called on the federal government as well as other agencies concerned to look into possible ways of developing SMEs in the country as it will help create job opportunities and boost the nation’s economy.
Earlier, the National President, Nigerians – American Chamber of Commerce, Otunba Oluwatoyin Akomolafe stated that vigorous entrepreneurship and Small and Medium Enterprises development are among the most important conditions for meeting the nation’s economic challenges.
Earlier, Chairman of the Kaduna State chapter of the Chamber, Mr. Matthew Obogbaimhe said the theme of the conference was timely, stressing that the process of innovation can be considered to be critical issues of comprehending nation’s economic growth.