The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation is set to empower over 500,000 Small and Medium Enterprises, especially operators in the non-oil sector, with adequate skills to enhance operations and contribute significantly to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, in the next two years.
The Chief Technical Adviser, Investment Promotion Division, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, Stanislaw Pigon, said for the economy to be competitive, the non-oil sector must be equipped with adequate investment and technology training.
Pigon, who spoke at the UNIDO’s Roundtable Meeting on Investment and Technology Promotion with Captains of Industry in Lagos on Wednesday, said this would be made available by UNIDO from August 2017.
He said the organisation was set to partner several groups of industrial firms, professional bodies, enterprises and the Federal Government to ensure sustainable industrial development.
The expert said: “Investment and technology are also very important in improving infrastructure efficiency, diversifying the economy, expanding the production base, as well as facilitating access to international and new markets.
“But disparities in terms of investment flows and technology innovation- still persist and development efforts are hampered by weaknesses in institutional capacity, regulatory frameworks, the cost of doing business, the lack of advisory and support services for both foreign and local investors.”
Pigon added that the Investment and Technology Promotion Offices’ arm of UNIDO was set to provide support, advisory and technical services to enterprises and business development firms, through networking with the private sector and institutions in the country to disseminate opportunities for investment and technology transfer.
According to him, ITPO will facilitate contact between potential foreign and local investors and technology suppliers through meetings, events like its upcoming Nigerian International Investors Forum and other appropriate means to support negotiations on investment ventures and technology partnerships.
Participants agreed that providing fora where opportunities to transfer investment and technology are made available, would contribute to the transformation of the Nigerian economy and its integration.
Speaking at the event, the Manager, Flour Mills of Nigeria, Sadiq Usman, agreed with Pigon that lack of technical skills and capacity building had been a bane to industrial growth in Nigeria.
According to Usman, the hurdle has been a clog in the wheels of several industrial giants in the country as many of them find it difficult to get specialised hands in some areas in the manufacturing sector.
He said: “FMN has been witnessing difficulties in getting a capable hand to manage its Sugar mill in Niger State. We go to India every year to employ experts to work in the mill because we couldn’t find any Nigerian capable of handling the work.”
The Head, ITPO Nigeria, Adebisi Olumodimu, said: “With the right regulatory, incentive framework, and the right frame of mind of entrepreneurs in the non-oil sector, the Nigerian economy could take a step forward in diversifying the economy, in industrial upgrading and technological innovation, to make the nation a more competitive brand in the continent and the world at large.
“We are targetting the empowerment of over 500,000 SMEs over the next two years. Our focus is on enterprise development because we discovered that investors do not have the desired skill and knowledge of enterprise development. That is the reason we are training entrepreneurs and government agencies because they are the ones we will be using locally to develop our SMEs.”