By Miriam Humbe
Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Okechukwu Enelamah, has said that the Federal Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) has availed technical assistance to 2,000 Nigerian youths.
While addressing a news conference in Abuja on Tuesday, Mr. Enelamah explained that the gesture was part of government’s broader social intervention programme, adding that more than 350,000 micro enterprises had also benefited from GEEP and MarketMoni Scheme.
The minister also said that the Federal Government Social Intervention Programme (SIP) will also provide interest-free loans to Micro Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (MSME).
Mr. Enelamah revealed that a very important agreement was signed with Volkswagen during the visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Nigeria to make the nation an automotive hub.
“They believe we can sell up to two million cars a year, if we create an environment for Nigerians to drive new cars. They want to work with us to make it happen,’’ he said.
The minister said that on trade, the country had signed agreement with European Free Trade Area (EFTA) comprising Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, and that the objective was to promote trade with those countries.
He also revealed that an economic cooperation agreement was signed between Nigeria and the UK during visit of Prime Minister Theresa May to create environment for future negotiations.
“Technically, the UK cannot have a full negotiation with Nigeria until Brexit negotiations are concluded.’’
On Industrialisation, he said that the government had done a lot on the Special Economic Zone (SEZ), saying that the National Special Economic Zones Company (NSEZCo) has been set up.
“These are centres of excellence that promote industrial infrastructure. Government has decided to support it in a significant way,’’ he said.
Enelamah said that the Industrial Policy and Competitiveness Advisory Council (IPCAC) would focus on industrialisation through collaboration between industrialists and the government.
“The government is working on critical infrastructure, training, skills acquisition, policy, market access, trade facilitation and financing to make the country a better place,’’ he said.
Enelamah said that among other activities of the industrial council, the Road Trust Fund would soon be launched and that the federal government was working with state governments on multiple taxation and Right of Way for broadband penetration.