Govt unveils raw material-based cluster initiative
. MAN prescribes turnaround measure for economy
THE Federal Government, Thursday, unveiled the raw materials-based cluster initiative as part of its quest to diversify the nation’s revenue base, currently dominated by crude oil.
The initiative was scripted partly to mitigate the pangs of falling oil prices on the economy.
President Goodluck Jonathan, who spoke at a national summit on raw materials-based SME clusters in Nigeria, in Abuja, Thursday, stressed that the cluster concept aims at ensuring the emergence of at least one raw material-based cluster in each of the 774 local government areas.
He said: “It is worthy of mention that over the years, the Raw Materials Research and development Council (RMRDC) and the Federal Ministry of Science and Technologies that are capable of transforming the natural resource endowments of every ward into value-added products and services, thereby creating employment, generating wealth and engendering reorientation, among others.
“In order to ensure an even spread and grassroots-inclusive approach in the commercialization of these technologies and research and development products, the cluster concept was adopted for the deployment of these technologies and R&D products at the ward levels for rapid rural and economic transformation, which is in line with the Vision 20: 2020 and also a vital component of the Transformation Agenda.
“The Federal Government is fully award of the potentials of MSMEs in the local content development for the development of strong and viable MSMEs. In spite of the recognition of MSMEs globally as the critical engines of economic growth due to their potential to create jobs, boost have production, generate income and reduce poverty, in Nigeria they do not have the adequate financing needed to play this pivotal role in its development trajectory.
“My administration’s decision to create the N220 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development (MSME) fund as designed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is therefore meant to address this challenge, support entrepreneurs and unlock the potential of the MSMEs for job creation and poverty reduction in Nigeria. This is also aimed at ensuring that productive sectors of the economy continue to attract more finance necessary for employment creation and diversification of the country’s economic base.
He added “the fund will enhance the capacity to develop the grassroots through provision of financial assistance to the active poor who are majorly small business owners, thus expending their business in the process and improving their livelihood.”
Represented by Minister of Science and technology, Abdu Bulama, the President stressed how the ability to transform locally available raw materials into value-added products which are acceptable and globally competitive is crucial if we must be self-reliant. It is therefore, a vital component of the nation’s overall strategy for achieving global competiveness, reduction of post-harvest looses and ensuring food security.
He noted: “In doing all these, we will collaborate with the private sector and provide the necessary incentives to partner with governments at various levels in order to drive the programme. I hereby call on all relevant stakeholders: banks, investors, development partners, NGOs, researchers and others to come on board to realize the potentials of this home-grown strategy as it will broaden the dividends of the transformation agenda.”
On its part, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) stressed the need for the country to embark on a resource-based industrialization process, taking into consideration the rich forest, agricultural and mineral resources that the country is endowed with.
President of the Association, Dr. Frank Jacobs said the exploitation of Nigeria’s resources could be the catalyst for the enhanced development and transformation of the industrial sector in Nigeria.
According to him, “the challenges that the industrial sector, especially the manufacturing structure of the economy. It is my belief that if the concept of resource-based industrial cluster is adopted, even at this stage of our development, Nigeria will witness a huge turn around.”