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NIGERIA: Smedan Challenges South-West Governors on SME Development

>Governors of states in the South-west geopolitical zone of Nigeria have been challenged to create an enabling environment that would encourage in-flow of investments into the region’s small and medium enterprises (SME) sub-sector.

Acting Director-General of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Mr. Olawale Fasanya, made this call at the official opening of a three-day SME Investment Opportunities Fair held in Akure, Ondo State capital. The fair was organised by SMEDAN in collaboration with the governments of Ondo, Osun and Ekiti states.

Lamenting the low level of SME investment in the zone, the SMEDAN chief executive advised the governors of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti to leverage the services of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) to develop the industrial potential of the region.

While wondering what had been responsible for this situation, Fasanya noted that the federal and state governments were making noticeable progress in the provision of infrastructural facilities. He, however, pointed out that the subsisting disconnect between agriculture and industry requires major attention.

He recalled that before and after independence, cocoa production was the backbone of the Western Region. “The economy of the region was so robust that most of the developmental milestones recorded at the time could be attributed to cocoa,” said Fasanya.

To restore the glory of the region’s economy, he implored the Governments of the South-West, especially those of Ondo, Osun and Ekiti, to provide the enabling environment inflow to cocoa cultivation and processing as well as other products where the zone has competitive and comparative advantage.

“Moreover, for the economy of south-west to appreciate remarkably, State governments are advised to invest more in the collaboration with SMEDAN through dispassionate identification of prospective beneficiaries of the Agency’s services and provision of business finance in form of grants and/or revolving loans,” he stressed.

Also speaking on the occasion, Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Agagu, who was represented by the Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Olajide Ajani, observed that the attraction of investment into the State was factored by the fast development of infrastructure and institutional support and that his government was committed towards ensuring that Ondo State becomes the preferred destination for investment within the shortest possible time.

This, he said, informed the decision to collaborate with SMEDAN, Osun and Ekiti states to organise the fair, which provided the much needed platform for machine fabricators, vendors of small scale machines and equipment, financial institutions, regulatory institutions and other stakeholders to meet in an environment conducive for growing market, networking, information gathering and experience sharing.