Dr. Ekeh, made this call in a keynote address at this year’s Computer, Telecommunications and Office Equipment (CTO-2007) organised by the Commercial Section of the United States Embassy in Nigeria, which ended in Lagos at the weekend with the theme: “Using Technology to Facilitate Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development in Nigeria.”
“I strongly recommend the establishment of a special Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Trade Institutions (MSMETI) in the existing six regions of Nigeria,” he asserted.
Dr. Ekeh who dwelt on “Applying Technology to Facilitate Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Competitiveness in Nigeria,” described MSMEs as veritable means of advancing an economy, especially in developing country like Nigeria.
He also said that by establishing this exclusive institutions in the six geo-political zones of the country, would accelerate Nigerians exploitation of unique features of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.
The institutes, he stressed, could be extended to the states and local governments in the near future to provide opportunities for mentoring in order to start the journey of empowering MSMEs for global competitiveness.
He also advocated for involvement of reputable retired chief executives as experts to manage these centres and champion the desire towards turning these centres into centres of MSMEs excellence.
Dr. Ekeh noted that today, the opportunity of applying technology for nation building is served at the doorstep of Nigeria through Information Technology (IT) to engage the world in the moment of history.
“As these opportunities beckon on the nation, many would be called to perform this fundamental duty, but few would be chosen,” he said.
He emphasised that relevant studies have shown that approximately three billion people world-wide, roughly half of the earth’s population live on $2 US Dollar a day or less, adding that more than a billion people including Nigerians survive on $1 US Dollar a day, according to the recent World Bank reports.
Therefore, advances in Science and Technology and Information Technology in particular have become the predominant influence on the way people live, work, do business and govern, which resulted in the relational convergence of communications for business activities in continents and countries of the world through the knowledge infrastructure interface, which converged into what is now popularly known as globalization.
Nigerians, he said must all recognize that these conditions would to a large extent, be dictated by the convergence of entrepreneur-driven capacities in Information and Communications Technologies (ICT), product innovation, skill-acquisition, support Research, Design and Development (RD&D) and quality maintenance culture.
He pointed out that by establishing the MSMETI, the government would enthrone concentrated effort through bridging the relevant divides, which stands as obstacles of MSMEs.
“With almost 72 per cent of Nigerian population residing in the rural area and actively engaged in Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) structured around such fundamental life activities such as agriculture, farming, fishing, forestry, cortège industry textile, Arts and Craft and others too numerous to mention, Nigeria stands to benefit immensely if special attention is given to the MSMEs sector,” he said.
Dr. Ekeh further commended the government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for recognising this import and formulation of policies to engage MSMEs challenges.
“One of such enviable policies is the upgrading of some community banks to Micro Finance Banks – specially targeted at accelerating the creation of wealth,” he said.
just as he lauded the establishment of a national Policy Framework for Consumer Credit System and Outsourcing.
This, he said, is aimed at restructuring and refocusing the national economic programmes, processes and operations to facilitate and empower MSMEs activities for entrepreneur competitiveness.Equally, he emphasized that without a constant source and equitable distribution of electricity, that is, uninterruptible power supply, combined with comprehensive access to and active application of Information Technology tools and skilled capacities, the MSMEs dream may remain elusive for a very long time.