The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele has pledged the Bank’s readiness to increase its development finance interventions to further support start-ups and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the country.
Emefiele made the pledge while delivering the 51st Convocation Lecture of the University of Lagos, Lagos, on Monday, noting that increased access to finance for start-ups and SMEs was highly essential for the nation’s economy to grow.
Speaking on the topic: “National Development and Knowledge Economy in the Digital Age: Leapfrogging SMEs in the 21st Century,” he stressed that special consideration should be given to the strengthening of physical and ICT infrastructure to enable SMEs to perform more efficiently and become globally competitive.
He highlighted the critical role of vibrant and growing SMEs in the growth of the economy and the creation of jobs for Nigerian youth, noting that special consideration needed to be given to the strengthening of physical and ICT infrastructure to enable SMEs to perform more efficiently and become globally competitive.
Emefiele enjoined the Government and the private sector to provide more support in addressing the challenges of SMEs in the country. He said, “the potential of SMEs in enhancing economic growth is hampered by limited access to finance, inadequate infrastructure and poor digital penetration. I urge the government and the private sector to provide more support in addressing the challenges of SMEs in the country.
Specifically, as users of new technology, I advise that policies that would incentivize the adoption of innovations that will improve SMEs competitiveness and productivity should be made.”
He also tasked all relevant stakeholders to deepen reforms that will improve human capital development through skills enhancement and proper linkage of research to the SME sector.
Citing examples of other climes that have continued to harness the benefits of the knowledge economy to accelerate economic growth, through the contributions of SMEs, Emefiele charged tertiary institutions in the country to tap into the educational trends that are significant drivers of productivity in advanced and emerging markets, in order to reshape the existing curriculum, enhance the learning experience of students and foster innovation amongst the faculty and staff in Nigerian institutions.
The CBN Governor further opined that enhanced collaboration between universities and players in key sectors of the economy such as agriculture, manufacturing and ICT were necessary to enable the implementation of sound ideas generated from the universities.
However, he noted that universities in many developing countries had little or no formal linkages to industry, thereby, resulting in the production of ill-equipped graduates.
Emefiele, therefore, challenged Nigerian tertiary institutions to ensure effective collaboration with industry players in key sectors of our economy, in the training of relevant manpower to minimize mismatches between the skills required by firms and the educational qualifications of Nigerian graduates.
Speaking on the role of the CBN in the development of SMEs in Nigeria, the Governor reiterated that the Bank had rolled out massive developmental interventions in some critical sectors of the Nigerian economy, especially in agriculture, manufacturing and SMEs.
He said attention had also been paid to advancing knowledge and innovation through various initiatives targeted at promoting youth’s entrepreneurship, research and development.
Congratulating the graduating students, Emefiele urged them to take advantage of some of the Bank’s directly aimed at supporting SMEs such as the SME Credit Guarantee Scheme (SMECGS); Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund (MSMEDF); Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YEDP); Agri-business/Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS); Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI); Targeted Credit Facility (TCF) and the Nigeria Youth Investment Fund (NYIF).
Emefiele, who disclosed that the CBN had also prioritized financial inclusion as a deliberate strategy to reduce the percentage of adults excluded from financial services, urged the graduating students to be part of the solution to a greater Nigeria.
According to him, “…despite the hues, cries and complaints about this country, this remains the land of indescribable opportunities, the land where finding a simple solution to a common problem can lead to unimaginable financial prosperity.”
MainOne to be Acquired by America’s Equinix in a $320m Deal
Nigerian and West African data centre and cable service provider, MainOne is close to being acquired by an American internet company in a deal that is touted to have a value of $320 million.
In a release by Equinix, the $320 million deal is expected to be sealed and signed in the first quarter of 2022, pending the satisfaction of conventional closing conditions, including the required regulatory approvals.
A Public Relations personnel from MainOne confirmed the deal, but stated that he had access to limited information. He was however convinced that the deal would be a total buyout.
MainOne was founded in 2010 by Funke Opeke, a Nigerian. The company has over 1,000 kilometres of reliable terrestrial fibre networks across the southern region of the country, while also owning and operating a subsea network from Nigeria to Portugal (in Europe).
The company also has digital infrastructure assets including three data centres (which are operational) across the western area of Africa. It also has another facility under construction, which is set for a launch in Q1 2022. These facilities have helped the company enable connectivity for Nigeria’s business community.
Equinix, on this background believes that MainOne is one of the most thrilling tech businesses to come out of Africa. Charles Meyers, the CEO and President of Equinix which has its headquarters in California, stated that the acquisition of MainOne would be the first step in the company’s strategy to become a leading African carrier neutral digital infrastructure company in the long term.
Meyers said that MainOne’s leading position in interconnection and its experienced management team are critical assets in Equinix’s bid to become the leading neutral provider of digital infrastructure across Africa.
Meyers noted that the growth in data consumption in Africa is one of the fastest in the whole world, and MainOne’s infrastructure, customer relationships and operating capability will extend Equinix’s reach and boost opportunities for customers based in Africa and other parts of the world.
It was agreed in the deal that all members of the MainOne management team, including the CEO will continue in their respective roles. Equinix will also take on MainOne’s about 500 employees, but it is unclear what will happen to them under the new dispensation.
Former Dangote Group Truck Driver Sues Company over Injuries Sustained in Accident
A truck driver who worked with Dangote Cement, Anas Ibrahim has filed a lawsuit against the company for abandoning him and sacking him after he had sustained serious injuries in an accident that occurred while he was on duty.
Ibrahim was involved in an accident on July 1, 2020 while travelling along the Lagos-Abeokuta expressway when a vehicle ran into the Dangote truck he was driving after he offloaded bags of cement at the company’s depot.
Initially, he was taken to the Sango Otta General Hospital in Ogun state after he lost consciousness. After that, he was transferred to the Federal Medical Centre, Abeokuta before he was finally taken to the Mohammed Sunusi Specialist Hospital, Kano where he currently is.
The accident victim stated that he had suffered three broken ribs and had a complex fracture in his limbs, according to FIJ.
Ibrahim, through his lawyer dragged Dangote Cement to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria based in Kano. The complainant told the court that the company had neglected him and also refused to pay his medical bills after they terminated his employment.
Ibrahim sought an order of the court, which would require Dangote to pay him N50 million as compensation, N10 million exemplary damages and N1 million in legal fees.
The Dangote Group Spokesperson, Anthony Chiejina said to the FIJ that he was unable to comment on Ibrahim’s situation because he was still in mourning of Sani Dangote, brother to Aliko Dangote and the Vice President of the company.
Chiejina then said it was unfair for the newspapers to report the sacking and neglect of the truck driver who sustained serious injuries in the line of duty at a time when the company was in mourning. He went ahead to claim that truck drivers working for the company cannot be trusted all the time, although he failed to react to the situation.
Google, Meta Dominate as Advertising Industry Set to Exceed Growth Expectations
The advertising industry is expected to exceed growth expectations for 2021 as more brands turn to the search engine and social media platforms to get across to their customers during this pandemic, according to two advertising industry forecasts released on Monday.
In spite of the fact that the year was marked by supply chain disturbances across the globe which delayed products from reaching shelves and a user privacy crackdown by Apple Inc that caused many to fear that mobile advertising would be disrupted, brands have gone on to advertise online.
According to Jonathan Barnard, the Director of Global Intelligence at advertising firm Zenith, in-store shopping has still been slow because of the pandemic. Zenith was one of those who published an ad expenditure forecast on Monday.
The new businesses that were formed in the thick of the pandemic needed to advertise so that they would find customers, while other companies most likely maintained the ad spending in order to stay rooted in the minds of consumers, as said by Brian Wieser, the Global President of Business Intelligence at advertising agency GroupM.
The GroupM forecast predicts that global advertising spending will grow about 22.5% in 2021 compared to the previous year, while Zenith estimated a growth of 15.6%. Both estimates were updated from the previous expectations that were held.
The reports state that by 2022, advertising spending around the world is expected to increase by about 9%.
The growth has been beneficial for Alphabet Inc (Google), Meta and Amazon.com Inc, who are major sellers of digital ads and can now account for more than half of all the advertising spending occurring outside the walls of China. This represents an increase from about 40% back in 2019, according to GroupM.
The need for marketers to reach their customers directly has resulted in the success of retailers such as Walmart, Kroger and Target to quickly grow their ad sales businesses, allowing brands to target more customers using their shopper data.
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