By BENJAMIN OMOIKE
LAGOS, Nigeria – Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Tuesday, said his administration is committed to positioning Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to take advantage of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, (AfCFTA) by providing a platform and exposing them to skills required to accelerate the effectiveness to stimulate intra-African trade.
He charged Nigerians, particularly small and medium-scale entrepreneurs to tap into the many opportunities available in the present nation’s challenges to grow their businesses to be financially independent and increase the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The Governor also urged Nigerians to present the nation in a good light, particularly on social media platforms to attract more investors and avoid negative narratives which could jeopardize the country’s image in the global world.
Governor Sanwo-Olu spoke on Tuesday while declaring open the Eighth Lagos State MSMEs Exclusive Trade Fair, themed “Empowering MSMEs for AfCfTA excellence through sustainable economic growth,” held in Ikoyi, Lagos.
The fair, expected to end on Saturday, is designated as an annual marketing access and intervention platform for Lagos MSME operators to showcase their products and services to the larger population of the State and Nigeria.
Speaking during the event, Governor Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, said many opportunities abound in Lagos State and therefore encouraged traders to formalise their products to be visible to the thriving market which the State Government has supported immensely.
He said, “In most developed and developing countries, the MSME sector is far bigger than the formal economy and it is a means of livelihood for many people. This sector is a huge economic catalyst, as it constitutes 95 to 98 percent of all businesses, generates 50 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and creates between 60 to 70 percent of employment.’It is quite important, as it bears direct relevance to the clarion call of our administration to transform and position the State as a 21st Century Economy, in line with our THEMES+ Development Agenda, and in alignment with the economic diversification agenda of the Federal Government.
“Given the prevailing economic uncertainties, added value is an important strategy to acquire and retain customers, increase brand awareness, and differentiate once placed in the AfCFTA market.
“Consequent upon Nigeria’s joining the AfCFTA, which is poised to become a game changer for the African economy, we are duty bound to position our MSMEs to take advantage of this continental agreement by providing the platform and exposing them to the skillset required to accelerate the effectiveness of AfCFTA in stimulating intra-African Trade. This will particularly impact the exports of the State and the Nation to African countries, significantly increasing it between 10 percent and 15 percent in the nearest future.”
Lagos State Commissioner for Commerce, Cooperatives, Trade and Investment, Mrs. Folashade Ambrose-Medebem, in her welcome address, said the five days Exclusive Trade Fair would give networking opportunities for traders as well as training on how to package their goods to entice consumers among others.
She said: “Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are the backbone of our economy, constituting a significant portion of businesses in Lagos State. They are the engines of innovation, employment generation, and poverty alleviation. Recognising the importance of MSMEs, the present administration has prioritised initiatives to enhance their capacities, foster entrepreneurship, and create an enabling environment for sustainable growth.”
Also speaking, the Guest Speaker, a professor of Entrepreneurship Hub and Strategic Management at the University of Lagos, Prof. Sunday Adebisi, noted that the youths should be encouraged to stay in the country and utilise their talents to grow the nation’s economy.
He called for the review of the Startup Act 2022, which was signed by former President Muhammadu Buhari in October last year, to eradicate the challenges of unrealistic government policies, hyperinflation rate and the Japa syndrome, which he described as the enemy of economic growth in the country.
During the trade fair, the Lagos Deputy Governor and his entourage inspected the exhibition stands within the trade fair and encouraged traders to register their goods to attract more foreign customers.