Lagos State Government and General Electric (GE) on Tuesday, pledged to boost Nigeria’s economy through the development of necessary skills that will empower Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to drive growth in the country.
The SME sector is seen as the country’s engine of growth, in terms of development and industrialisation, wealth creation, poverty reduction and employment creation. Majority of Nigerian entrepreneurs are SME players, who employ at least 10 people and above.
Speaking at the launch of a hub, ‘Lagos Garage’ built by GE for advanced manufacturing-based innovation, strategy development, idea generation and collaboration, experts said desired growth in Africa, particularly Nigeria is only feasible through sustained effort towards empowering SMEs.
The United States multinational conglomerate, GE operations span appliances, aviation, finance, energy, healthcare, ideas, intelligent platforms, lighting, oil and gas, power.
In Nigeria, GE’s interests are mostly in power and oil and gas, in which it has entered into many contractual agreements with the Federal and some state governments. However, the company is very secretive about its dealings with the Nigerian Government and has blatantly refused to entertain any questions regarding the projects it is executing in the country.
SMEs, currently contribute about 48 percent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the level of activities across all sectors of the economy. Experts said the sector, which employs about 60 million people, remained crucial to the future of the nation’s economy.
The Commissioner, Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment in Lagos State, Abdul Mustapha, said the country’s growing population and high rate of unemployment put government on the line to provide opportunities that will make entrepreneurship to strive.
A United Nations report projected that by 2050, Nigeria, which is currently the seventh most populous country in the world, will be the third just behind India and China.
Mustapha disclosed that the ministry, which was recently created under the current administration, had sealed pacts with international organisations, including Oracle, an American multinational computer technology Corporation, to bridge skill gap.
He added that the State Government is working hard to seriously address infrastructure challenges and ease business operations, noting that efforts are underway to end epileptic power supply in the state.
GE’s garage, which is co-located with the Lagos office, is expected to offer a year-round series of skills training programmes focused on building the next generation of Nigerian entrepreneurs. Participants will be trained to use the latest in advanced manufacturing technologies; 3D printers, CNC mills, and laser cutters in the first-ever fabrication lab in Nigeria, to drive innovation in the country. They will also learn how to apply the core principles of design thinking, product development, finance, marketing, sales, and customer acquisition in real-time to their ventures.