Abuja, Nov. 6, 2023: An expert, Enobong Umoessien, has called for more deliberate action by government and relevant stakeholders toward promoting Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to ensure growth of the country’s economy.
Umoessien, Head of Division Business and Enterprise Promotion, Private Sector Directorate, ECOWAS Commission, said on Sunday in Abuja.
According to him, SMEs are the main bulk of businesses in any economy.
”They contribute close to 80 per cent of employments; more than 40 per cent to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and they are the hub, and the nursery for big businesses.
”Countries and regions that promote SMEs are regions that will grow and mature.
”They are the ones that provide inputs to big business and they also provide a hub for the middle class.
”So, the vibrancy and the manipulation of SMEs is key to the sustenance and competitiveness of economies,” Umoessien said.
The expert said for SMEs to thrive, business climate regulations such as taxes needed to be considered and addressed.
He, however, expressed delight that the current Nigerian President, Bola Tinubu had graciously set a system in motion to reduce the taxes that were available for businesses.
He said: ”this is a massive action that will reduce the difficulties and challenges that SMEs and other businesses face.
”These are the kind of things that should happen to grow and encourage SMEs.
”We at the ECOWAS commission, we have inaugurated the ECOWAS SMEs charter that has among other things, provided specific structures for the support and promotion of SMEs.
”It ensures provision of funds, technical assistance, and help them to organise their businesses.
“We are on standby to support member states and the private sector to do business.”
On challenges, Umoessien said SMEs on the continent faced enormous challenges with energy being one of the major challenge.
He said SMEs were mostly located in off metropolitan environments in the rural areas, in villages where you do not have good roads or power supply.
He said poor communication was also one of the major challenges affecting small businesses on the continent.
”Today, the world is driven by digital technology, which is the bedrock to telecommunications.
“Now, without this kind of infrastructure, SMEs and business generally have difficulties internet.
”Connectivity in Nigeria is still low and penetration is still low too. A lot needs to be done to enable telecommunications infrastructure to go to all the zones, the rural areas.
”So that SME’s and businesses wherever they are located, can connect with the global community and do business online and the rest of them,” he said.
Umoessien highlighted some factors necessary for SMEs growth to include, energy availability, rural electrification, renewable energy use, roads construction, telecommunications, tax reductions for SMEs particularly certain class of businesses.
He said it was important that they should have moratorium and should be allowed to do business for certain years.
” It is important for government to engage big business in discussions on how they can support SMEs in their value chain. The taxes that big business pay can be negotiated down.
”And they can compensate for those taxes by embedding more SMEs in their value chain as well as create employment.