The Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, says the bank will increase its development finance interventions to further support start-ups and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the country.
Emefiele made the pledge while delivering the 51st Convocation Lecture of the University of Lagos, Akoka, on Monday in Lagos.
The lecture has “National Development and Knowledge Economy in the Digital Age: Leapfrogging SMEs in the 21st Century”, as its topic.
The CBN governor said that increased access to finance for start-ups and SMEs was highly essential for the nation’s economy to grow.
He advised that special consideration should be given to the strengthening of physical and ICT infrastructure, to enable SMEs perform more efficiently and become globally competitive.
“The potential of SMEs in enhancing economic growth is hampered by limited access to finance, inadequate infrastructure and poor digital penetration.
“I urge government and the private sector to provide more support in addressing the challenges of SMEs in the country.
“Specifically, as users of new technology, I advise that policies that would incentivise the adoption of innovations that will improve SMEs competitiveness and productivity should be made,” he said.
He urged relevant stakeholders to deepen reforms that would improve human capital development through skills enhancement and proper linkage of research to the SME sector.
Emefiele advised tertiary institutions in the country to tap into the educational trends that were significant drivers of productivity in advanced and emerging markets.
He said that doing so would help to reshape the existing curriculum, enhance the learning experience of students and foster innovation among the faculty and staff in Nigerian institutions.
The CBN Governor advocated enhanced collaboration between Universities and players in key sectors of the economy: agriculture, manufacturing and ICT.
According to him, this is necessary to enable implementation of sound ideas generated from the universities.
“They should collaborate in the training of relevant manpower to minimise mismatches between the skills required by firms and the educational qualifications of Nigerian graduates.”
Speaking on the role of CBN in the development of SMEs in Nigeria, Emefiele reiterated that the bank had rolled out massive developmental interventions in critical areas such as agriculture, manufacturing and SMEs.
He said that attention had been paid to advancing knowledge and innovation through various initiatives targeted at promoting youths’ entrepreneurship, research and development.
He urged the graduating students to take advantage of some of the bank’s initiative aimed at supporting SMEs.
The CBN initiatives include the SME Credit Guarantee Scheme (SMECGS); Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund (MSMEDF); and Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YEDP).
Others are: Agri-business/Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS); Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI); Targeted Credit Facility (TCF) and the Nigeria Youth Investment Fund (NYIF).
Earlier, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos, said the institution was at the forefront of developing critical manpower required for building and developing the nation.
“For University of Lagos, national development is a key consideration in our academic activities, but we are at the forefront of developing critical manpower required for building and developing our nation.
“Our courses and research thematic areas are focused on preparing our students for nation building and solving societal challenges.
“It is within this context that the University established the entrepreneurship and Skill Development Centre under my former boss, Professor Rahmon Bello, for promoting entrepreneurship activities and orientation among the students and staff.
“This is embedded in the 35 years strategic plans of the University of Lagos which started during the tenure of my former boss, Late Professor Babatunde Sofoluwe.
“We seek to promote self reliance entrepreneurship and exceptionary leadership skills and capacities in our students,”he said.