Abuja – An American business expert, Fred Oladehinde, says Nigeria can generate four million jobs annually through AGOA, if it invests in the development of its Micro Small and Micro Enterprises (MSMEs) sector
Oladehinde, President of the Foundation for Democracy in Africa, a Washington DC based NGO, said this on Wednesday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) scheme was initiated by the U.S. government in May 2000 to assist the economies of sub-Saharan Africa and to improve economic relations between U.S and the region.
It is to offer tangible incentives for Africa countries to continue their efforts to open their economies and build free markets.
After completing its initial 15-year period of validity, the AGOA legislation was extended in 2015 by a further 10 years, to September 2025.
Oladehinde noted that Nigeria had not maximally benefited from the scheme, adding that his organisation was ready to work with the government and civil society organisations to explore the scheme benefits.
The Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) expert said that the AGOA plan was to reduce unemployment through creation of 20 million jobs in Africa annually.
“We need to mobilise MSMEs so that we can improve and enhance not only the value chain from supply side but also include their participation in the global supply chain and create the needed jobs.
“As you know there is need for the creation of about 20 million jobs every year in Africa.
“And if you look at the size of Nigeria and the population, it means almost four million of this jobs will have to be created in Nigeria every year,” he said.
The Nigerian born-American said he was in Nigeria to work with some civil society organisations and some of government agencies to utilise the benefits of AGOA to create jobs.
“Civil society has a role to play to ensure that the vibrant policy environment by the federal, states and the local governments is in place to support the development and the nourishment of MSMEs,” he said.
He said that his organisation which is an AGOA network NGO would work with government related agencies to educate MSMEs operators on meeting the standards of AGOA to be able to access U.S. market.
He said that there was need for the government to also create functional clusters for the MSMEs operators where they could harness resources to meet the AGOA standards.
He said that government also needed to provide incentives and increase budgeting for funding the MSMEs sector which he described as the engine room of economy.
“These are the birds that laid the golden eggs and so we should look at the investment in this engine of economic growth as the only way revive economically.
“The is the only way we create jobs for our youth and the only way that we can sustain our democracy,” he said
Oladehide said that there was the need for Nigeria to align its trade policy to its strategic partners especially its AGOA partners.
He said that this would allow Nigeria to optimize the benefit of AGOA.
“This is access to one of the most lucrative markets in the world; in the U.S. you can bring in 6,500 products duty free into the U.S.
“The demand is huge; this is one market in the world that everybody craves for; everybody wants access to the U.S. market.
“And, if Nigeria is able to send our products to these markets that would allow us to create jobs, grow our businesses and pay taxes, it allows our airports to be very busy.
“It will allow us to reduce traditional cost in terms of cost to the citizens, and not only that it would also incentivise direct foreign from the U.S. into Nigeria,” he said.
He said that if Nigeria could key in to the scheme as it ought to, it would have impact on the nation’s socio-economic development and fast track its agenda on industrialisation
He said that the creation of 20 million jobs annually in Africa would keep the youth engaged.
Oladehide also added that it would make them to avoid illegal and painful migration that the continent witnessed in the last seven to 10 years. (NAN)