Growth and Employment in States (GEMS), a DfID funded market development project in Nigeria wound down recently at a ceremony to reflect on its achievements.
The programme was initiated to facilitate market system changes to address identified constraints, in order to encourage economic growth; resulting in the creation of 10,000 new jobs and increased incomes for 500,000 Nigerians.
At the event in Abuja, DfID Private Sector Development Advisor, Mr. Andy Gartside said the project was inspired by the need to help raise the incomes of the poor and to raise the incomes of two million people, including 1,000,700 women.
â€œI am very pleased to say that this target has been met and over two million people have seen their records rise with GEMS activities. Additionally, we had a target of creating or supporting the creation of full-time equivalent jobs. The target by the end of 2017 was to support the creation of 26,000 jobs – again, I am very pleased to say that target was achieved,â€ he said.
In his remarks, the Project Director of GEMS4, David Joiner, said the project met all its targets by creating ample job opportunities and raising the incomes of many Nigerians, especially women.
â€œWe had a target of creating ten thousand equivalent full time jobs and raising the incomes of 500,000 people in Nigeria and we met all through our interventions, so we were successful,â€ he stated.
The Project Director of GEMS3, Ana Vinambres, enumerated the impact the project had on focal states in Nigeria through its reforms to drive the economy by transforming the tax system and boosting the nationâ€™s revenue through active tax policies and as well as facilitating legislations to institute a national land policy and drive investment promotion.
She said GEMS was excited to share insights from experiences gained during the implementation of the life-changing programme, describing it as a life-transforming intervention.
The Project Director of GEMS 4, Richard Ogundele, told reporters that the GEMS4 programme was implemented to a near-perfect conclusion, having surpassed its targets of job creation and income rising.
â€œGEMS4 set out to empower 500,000 poor people and create ten thousand jobs and from that target, we were able to create twelve thousand jobs which means we went over 10,000 and for the 500,000 we exceeded it. For tomatoes, over 71,000 people directly benefitted with increased incomes to their earnings and that earnings amounted to Â£41,000, which is worth millions of naira â€“ all achieved over the last five and a half years. For the rice sector, over 21,000 people benefitted and that is about Â£4,000,000 in value,â€ he said.
Speaking on the efficacy of the GEMS programme in Nigeria, the Special Assistant to Kaduna State Governor on Job Creation and Investor Relations, Hafiz Bayero, lauded GEMS for the impact its interventions have had on the northern state, notably in the areas of yield increase and attraction of investors in the agricultural sector. He made no secret of his admiration for the DFID funded programme and reserved special appreciation to for UKaid.
The forum which brought together top players in the private sector and government organisations had in attendance the Director General of the Nigerian Governorsâ€™ Forum, Asishana Okauru as guest.
Initiated in 2010, with GEMS 1, GEMS 2, GEMS 3 and GEMS4 had a portfolio of Â£16.8 million project was managed by Coffey International Development, and offered initiatives on providing solutions to address systemic constraints in the wholesale and retail market system.