DELTA State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, has called on the international community to partner African nations on job and wealth creation “as a means to ensuring global peace and security.”
Delivering a keynote address at the Africa Industrialisation Day at the United Nations Office in New York Tuesday, Okowa said beyond creating awareness of the challenges of industrialisation in Africa, the Forum should address the need for “firm commitments to strengthen partnerships that will drive industrialisation in Africa, create jobs and sustainable opportunities for youths, women and all people to enjoy better social and economic well-being.”
The Africa Industrialisation Day is celebrated on November 20 every year under the auspices of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) to mobilise the commitment of the international community to the industrialisation of Africa. The theme for this year’s event was, “SMEs for Poverty Eradication and Job Creation for Women and Youth.”
At a symposium to mark the day, Okowa commended “UNIDO’s passion and dedication to spurring Africa’s industrialisation,” pointing out that the occasion “is a reminder to all of us, of the need to redirect Africa’s economic development position from being a global supplier of raw materials and primary commodities to one with progressive value addition through agro-processing, agro-industrialisation and beneficiation of solid minerals.”
“SMEs are engines for cost-effective employment generation, social inclusion, equitable development and self-reliant industrialisation using local raw materials,” he said. The Governor lamented that objectives have not flourished in Africa due to “funding gaps, infrastructure deficit, energy problems and poor governance structures.”
Okowa informed the global audience that Nigeria’s policies through successive administrations have revolved around the growth and development of SMEs as catalysts for economic development. According to him, “the Federal Government, through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Bank of Industry (BoI), and Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) are frantically taking measures to enhance the performance and growth of youth and women-owned micro and small enterprises through a host of concessional financing initiatives spanning equity, debt financing, loan guarantees and grants.
“In Delta State where I am Governor, we have developed a roadmap to engage our youths and women in productive enterprises and ensure inclusive growth. Our strategic approach is a comprehensive programme of youth training, development and empowerment in agricultural enterprises and vocational skills, microcredit to support small and medium scale enterprises, and the creation of a conducive business and investment environment. Also, we are undertaking concerted measures for the integration of agricultural and agro-industrial development based on our comparative-advantage commodities, particularly cassava, oil palm and aquaculture.”
He called for international support for the state’s job and wealth creation scheme, which is in its six months of operation.
Source : SunOnline