By Emmanuella Anokam
The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) says the reviewed Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) policy is awaiting approval by the Federal Executive Council.
Dr Dikko Radda, the Director-General of SMEDAN, disclosed this on Thursday in Abuja in a forum with the Commerce and Industry Correspondents Association of Nigeria (CICAN).
Radda noted that the MSMEs policy was first developed in 2006, with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other development partners, and was subsequently reviewed in 2010 and 2015.
“We are reviewing it again and have concluded everything about the policy. We have done the validation and have received input from stakeholders in the MSMEs ecosystem.
“It was presented to the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and for the Federal Executive Council’s approval.
“It is still awaiting approval to bring into effect the new MSMEs policy in the country,” he said.
The SMEDAN boss said the major highlights of the reviewed policy were the nomenclature and the classification of MSMEs based on turnover, as well as the number of people employed.
On the challenges facing MSMEs, he said one of the challenges the MSMEs were facing in the country was how to package, brand and export their products to other countries.
He said under its Export Facilitation Programme, the agency had boosted the capacity of MSMEs on how to face regulations and brand challenges, including products packaging and quality control, to be competitive.
Radda said at this period when President Muhammadu Buhari had signed the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement, Nigeria and other African countries were being challenged to be competitive.
According to him, the main reason of introducing the export facilitation project is to enable our MSMEs to have the capacity to control the quality of their products, to meet competition of similar products from other African countries.
“We have quality products in Nigeria but most of the problems MSMEs face are lack of proper branding and quality control of their products as well as regulatory issues.
“Nigerian MSMEs have regulatory issues that are challenging in terms of National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) registration, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) certification and products registration.
“Through the project, the MSMEs are being enhanced,” he said.
The Director-General further expressed regret that 23 Industrial Development Centres (IDCs) in the country had been abandoned, in spite of their capacity to develop MSMEs, by working together, exchanging ideas and having various regulatory desks for business support.
He said SMEDAN was trying to convert the IDCs into enterprise clusters, to aid the development of MSMEs, adding that the African Development Bank (AfDB) in 2017 provided funding to SMEDAN to undertake a viability study of the IDCs.
“It was done, report was submitted, a full business case report was submitted to us on six IDCs to transform them into enterprise clusters.
“Other IDCs business cases was also developed and they were able to look at products which will be useful in that area and develop in that direction,” he said.
Radda noted that it had started a pilot project in Idu, Abuja, after a study had recommended that it should be turned into a Furniture and Wood cluster, within which a warehouse, work space would be provided for MSMEs for furniture productions of international standards
He expressed the hope that the cluster development would be completed in 2021, to further stimulate economic activities in the MSMEs sector. (NAN)