Elumelu: Nigeria Must Prioritise SMEs to Drive Development

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Chairman of Heirs Holdings Limited, Mr. Tony Elumelu

Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja

The Chairman of Heirs Holdings Limited, Mr. Tony Elumelu has declared that growing small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) remained the key to unlocking development in the country.

He also called for the recapitalisation of the distribution companies (Discos) in order to make them provide the much-needed power required to drive economic growth.

Elumelu, who made the remarks in Abuja during a panel discussion at the 23rd Nigerian Economic Summit jointly organised by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) and the Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning, said Nigeria’s economic growth should not only be on paper but should be mirrored through the growth of the SMEs.

At the plenary session with the theme, “Opportunities, Productivity and Employment: Actualising the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan,” Elumelu had the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo, and General Electric (GE) Vice Chairman, Mr. John Rice as other panel discussants.

He argued that for economic growth to be given practical expression, SMES must be seen to be growing as well, even as he observed that localisation is synonymous with the growth of SMEs.

“SMEs are the engine of growth” he said, adding that to get it right, they must be prioritised friendly business environment created with electricity and other basic infrastructure.

Emphasising the need for the prioritisation of the SMEs sector, he observed that his interactions with SMEs operators across the country showed that their dominant challenges was power, transport infrastructure and issues around taxation.

He therefore noted that for the SMEs to thrive, infrastructure, particularly power must be guaranteed.

Elumelu pointed out that a considerable mileage had been achieved with the ease of doing business initiative of the federal government, but stressed that more needed to be done.

Elumelu, who is also the Chairman of the United Bank for Africa (UBA Plc), noted that Nigeria cannot make appreciable progress without priorititising the youths, and addressing the huge unemployment problem.