Commissioning And Handing Over Of Anambra State MSMEs Shared Facility
REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE COMMISSIONING AND HANDING OVER OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT’S LEATHER PRODUCTION HUB AND ONE-STOP-SHOP FOR MSMES IN ANAMBRA STATE UNDER THE NATIONAL MSME CLINIC SHARED FACILITIES SCHEME ON TUESDAY, 24 AUGUST 2021
I am very pleased and thankful to God that we are finally able to commission this Shared Facility after several delays largely caused by the COVID -19 Pandemic. I bring you the personal felicitations of Mr. President, President Muhammadu Buhari who is as excited as you are that we are able to commission this facility today.
MSMEs are a priority for the Buhari Administration because they are an engine of growth for the economy and because they account for almost half of national income and three-quarters of jobs that are created.
Given our determination to support our countrymen and women who run small businesses, we have held MSME Clinics in 27 States. In the course of running the Clinics, we noticed that in addition to their requests for a more friendly regulatory environment, MSMEs also wanted to be supported in terms of production facilities that were lacking or too expensive.
This is how we came up with the idea of supporting MSMEs by providing at least one Shared Facility in every State of the Federation. Shared Facilities provide MSME clusters with machinery or equipment that different businesses can use or rent for short periods. In addition to convenience, and access to the latest equipment, this arrangement also spares them the financial burden of having to purchase vital equipment on their own. The Shared Facilities project is a partnership between the Federal Government, interested States, the Bank of Industry, NEXIM Bank, and the Private Sector. The particular sector of commerce to be supported is chosen in collaboration with the State Government and relevant MSME stakeholders.
We had made substantial progress with regard to Shared Facilities before our plans were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the severity of the socio-economic crisis that Nigeria faced along with the rest of the world, the Federal Government adopted the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) to stimulate the economy including measures to boost local production and reduce the impact of COVID-19 on jobs and businesses.
In the particular context of MSMEs, one of the approved stimulus schemes was the N75b Survival Fund scheme. The scheme supported up to 35,000 MSMEs in each state through payroll support and grants to artisans and road transport workers. This was conducted by the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment and ably led by the Minister of State, Industry, Trade and Investment, Amb, Mariam Katagum.
I understand that as of today, Anambra State alone has close to 30,000 beneficiaries across all tracks of the scheme and it is pleasing to note that some of the beneficiaries from this State are here today.
Now that we are gradually opening up parts of the economy while maintaining public health rules of social distancing, wearing of face masks, and regular hand sanitization, we are able to resume the activity of building Shared Facilities.
The journey to establish this Leather Production Hub facility began in October 2018 after Anambra State hosted the National MSME Clinics where equipment sharing workplace was identified as an urgent need for MSMEs in the State. The MSME Clinic team accordingly began immediate discussions on how to establish a Shared Facility that would house top-quality leather and shoe-making equipment here in Anambra State.
I am told this leather cluster has about 2000 stores with almost 30,000 MSMEs operating here so I have no doubt that this facility will be of immediate value to all of them. When asked, some of MSMEs operating here said they are able to produce 200 to 400 shoes a month using manual processes. But we heard the Chairman of the Ogbunike Shoemakers’ Association say that with this facility, they are able to do up to a 1,000 within a week. Ladies and Gentlemen, I am pleased to tell you that with this facility the MSMEs located here would now have a potential monthly production of:
- 96,000 shoe soles
- 44,000 slippers
- 44,000 shoes
- 22,000 boots.
We would have to take seriously, the request of the Governor about trying to get Armed Services and those who wear boots to patronize this facility and the entrepreneurs who are here in Anambra State.
This project will also help provide relative succour to MSMEs by also housing a One-Stop Office for MSMEs. This arrangement brings all relevant regulatory agencies under one roof to enable MSMEs requiring services or facing difficulties to access them with ease. This One-Stop Office will save costs and valuable time for MSMEs in the cluster and in the general area.
Let me at this juncture place on record that the Federal Government got the unwavering support of the State Government under the leadership of Governor Willie Obiano in building this facility. In addition to providing a suitable location, the State Government also supported the project by building a brand new workspace to house the equipment. I, therefore, wish to thank Governor Willie Obiano and his team for their partnership and dedication in ensuring the successful establishment of this facility and to commend their laudable efforts.
This Shared Facility will be run by a competent private sector firm while the Federal and State Government keeps a constant eye on its activities to ensure it achieves its set objectives. It is also our expectation that Federal Government agencies such as the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) and the Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) in particular will leverage on the establishment of this facility to ensure final products from here meet global standards and are fit for export to the rest of the world. In addition, I thank all the other MSME partners and agencies for their contribution to making this project a reality.
This Shared Facility is only one aspect of this administration’s commitment to improving the commercial environment but also the living and working and living standards of our people across Nigeria and in this case, in particular, Anambra State.
Later today, I will be commissioning the new power substation in Awka installed by the Niger Delta Power Holding Company. This is a significant investment in increasing power supply in the state that will have a multiplier effect on the economy.
When I last visited Anambra in 2018, His Excellency, the Governor made a number of requests revolving around issues such as the need to secure funding support for MSMEs in Anambra State, the establishment of a one-stop-shop and shared services for MSME development, and the need to boost patronage of Made-in-Anambra products.
Today, I am delighted to report that the President has kept his pledge and we have been able to address all of these issues. First, I am here on this occasion to commission the shared facility and one-stop-shop as promised. With the facility commencing operation, the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment will continue to engage with the State to ensure that we ramp up mass production of Made-in-Nigeria shoes and Government agencies will be encouraged to patronize the facility.
In addition, following the facilitation by the Presidency between the Anambra State Government and strategic stakeholders including the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Nigeria Export-Import Bank (NEXIM), the Development Bank of Nigeria and the Bank of Industry, the Anambra State Small Business Agency (ASBA), we have been able to access funds with which to support MSMEs in the state.
Your Excellency let me also assure you of This administration’s commitment to seeing through the major infrastructural projects that will have a transformative impact on this zone. The Second Niger Bridge Project which connects Asaba in Delta State and Onitsha in Anambra State has now achieved 65% completion. By the time it is completed in October 2022, the Project will offer significant socio-economic benefits for the contiguous States and indeed the entire nation by easing traffic flow, improving road safety, and creating greater opportunities for residents and neighbouring States, thereby regenerating economic life.
Not only will it significantly reduce travel time and alleviate traffic congestion, but it will also spur an increase in investments, agriculture, and trade between the commercial cities of Lagos, Port Harcourt, and Onitsha due to the improved and quicker access to markets. It will also enhance regional integration by improving the transportation infrastructure in this region.
Concurrently, the concession of the Onitsha Inland River Port is in its final stages. Both the draft Concession Agreement and the Full Business Case (FBC) have been transmitted to the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) for necessary action. When the Port becomes operational, it will effectively decongest the Apapa ports and ultimately translate into a reduction in the cost of imported goods.
The cumulative effect of all these measures is to open up the South East and our resolve to pursue these projects to their completion is an indication that the administration sees the zone as a strategic industrial and trade hub. They also demonstrate our conviction that Anambra State and the South-East at large have a huge role to play in our drive to foster economic growth and lift our people out of poverty. The commissioning of this facility here today is a milestone in our nation’s economic adventure.
It is therefore with very great delight that I commission this Leather Hub Shared Facility for MSMEs here at Ogbunike, Anambra State on this day, 24 August 2021. This will open up fresh vistas for the shoe-making industry in Anambra State.
I dedicate it to the glory of God Almighty and for the benefit of the hardworking shoe manufacturers in Anambra State and across Nigeria and those all over Nigeria and the world who buy the excellent shoes produced here.
I now officially hand over the facility to the leadership of the Ogbunike Leather Cluster Association through HE the Governor of the State.