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The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, said this during the World Economic Forum on Africa, 2014 Small and Medium Enterprises Summit, in Abuja.
Aganga also said the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment was working on a new AGOA strategy that would help boost the export of Nigerian products to the United States’ market.
He said: “AGOA is a programme by the government of the United States which allows some Africa countries to export their products to the United States duty free. The AGOA programme covers about 6,000 products.
“During the Extra-Ordinary Session of the African Union Trade Ministers two weeks ago, it was there was a discussion that Africa should push for the extension of AGOA more 15 years because most African countries, including Nigeria, have not fully taken advantage of AGOA and maximized the benefits of exporting to the United States market under the AGOA initiative.
The minister added: “In order to address the challenges militating against Nigeria’s quest towards taking full advantage of the AGOA initiative, we are working on a new AGOA strategy that will enable increase the Nigeria’s volume of export the United States.
"Also, discussions are on-going with my United States counterpart on how we can partner them in order fully benefit from the AGOA initiative. We believe that Nigeria can do far more than it is currently doing under AGOA. Although Nigeria exports ome agricultural products to the United States under AGOA, some of products do not meet the required standards for export into the United States market. So, we need to do more in terms of value addition so that we can fully optimize the benefits which AGOA offers.”
As part of efforts to enhance SME’s access to cheap capital, Aganga said that the government was working on a number initiatives to develop and deepen the Private Equity and Venture Capital sector across the country.
He said: “We are working on a number of initiatives that will enhance the financing of the SMEs value chain by developing innovative ways of attracting finance. What the government is doing in this regard is to work with the private sector to develop and deepen the Private Equity and Venture Capital sector to enable SMES have access to cheap funds.
The minister added that with over 17 million SMEs located across Nigeria, the country stood a better chance of creating more jobs for Nigerians if the sector was well developed .
He said: “The SME sector is one area that we want to grow as much as possible because, naturally, Nigerians are entrepreneurs. They know how to work hard to make money people. Moreover, the return on investment in the country is quite high because there are so many opportunities that are yet to be fully explored.
“For new businesses that are coming on board, it is always difficult to access money. We have different sources of funding, for instance, for debt capital, you go to the banks to borrow money but for equity capital, it comes from the entrepreneurs or from other sources. We want to create venture capital because we don’t have enough here.
“Also, we want to work with the Stock Exchange to make sure that SMEs can raise money from the second tier market and then get private equity players who can come in and build skills and help with the businesses. Currently, we are looking at areas where we can have clusters for SMEs in order to make it easier for them to have shared facilities to boost their productivity.”