By Etuka Sunday
An American business expert, Fred Oladehinde, says Nigeria can generate four million jobs annually through AGOA if it invested in the development of its Micro Small and Micro Enterprises (MSMEs) sector
Oladehinde who is the President of the Foundation for Democracy in Africa, a Washington DC based NGO stated this 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 offers 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 who noted that Nigeria had not maximally benefited from the scheme said that his organization was ready to work with the government and civil society organizations to explore the scheme bemefits.
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 four of which would be from Nigeria.
“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 badly needed jobs
“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.
“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 6500 products duty free into the U.S.
“The demand is huge this is one market in the world that everybody crave to for, everybody wants access to the U.S. market.
“And, if Nigeria is able to send our products to these market that would allow us to create jobs, grow our businesses and pay taxes, allow 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 incentify 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 youths engaged and would make them to avoid illegal and painful migration that the continent witnessed in the last seven to 10 years.