by crossriverwatch admin
2020, a year that Nigeria is foreshadowed to be the economic hub of Africa is not very far off. Against that backdrop, certain perils that may hinder this aspiration have been detected. These include lack of skilled manpower and practical measures to engage the cadre of unemployed youths in meaningful economic activities.
As a panacea, the Central Bank of Nigeria took upon its shoulders the mandate to support government agencies by launching the “Central Bank of Nigeria Entrepreneurship Development Centres (CBN-EDCs)”, one in each of the geo-political zones in the country (North-West, North-East, North-Central, South-East, South-West and South-South).
The CBN-EDCs are designed to develop the spirit of creativity and entrepreneurship in the youths and provide them with the necessary tools, technology and framework for maintaining business enterprise; to develop the entrepreneurial skills of the would-be entrepreneur to start, expand, diversify and manage a business enterprise; link them to financial institutions for a start-up capital especially microfinance banks; and to raise new crop of entrepreneurs that can compete fervently in the global market and manage micro, small and medium enterprise as well as provide the bridge for future industrialisation of the country.
In 2008 the Central Bank of Nigeria established three EDCs on a pilot basis located in North-West (Kano), South-West (Lagos) and South-East (Onitsha).
The pilot phase which was evaluated by independent consultants in 2010 with recommendations made to improve the centres in order to position them to achieve the set out objectives of empowerment and job creation.
It is imperative to mention that some of the findings and recommendations made from the pilot phase shaped the modus operandi and vivendi in the establishing of the other centres in North-Central (Makurdi), North-East (Maiduguri) and South-South (Calabar).
The implementing agencies are saddled with the responsibility of establishing a business clinic to undertake consultation with existing and potential business owners on an on-going basis; operate a curriculum that has an integrated approach to entrepreneurial training encompassing training based on comparative advantage of a business endeavour in a geo-political zone; and propagating the spirit of “I can do” in the youths.
Another factor militating against the success of the EDCs project is access to adequate funds.
Recognising this, the CBN is collaborating with the Bank of Industry to fashion out financing model under its micro-credit lending programme.
Also, provision has been made for participating institutions to access wholesale funds under the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME), Development Fund and on-lend to the CBN-EDCs graduates.
So far, activities of the first phase of the three EDCs translated into the following: training of 41,828 entrepreneurs; access to finance of 1,743 trainees; creating job for 11,414 persons; counselling of 110,095 entrepreneurs and 4,855 certified business plan.
The official launching of the South-South zonal centre in Cross River (host state) sparks a new touch with virgin opportunities for the six BRACED states, namely: (Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom , Cross River, Edo, and Delta).
In his remark during the launching, the host Governor, Senator Liyel Imoke reckoned to the fact that the greatest number of unemployed people are youths.
He said, “In today’s Nigeria there are millions of young people who are economically dislocated either through unemployment or lack of engagement with any meaningful economic activity.
In effect, 24% of our economic agents are disaffected and disenfranchised through unemployment and that figure rises to almost 70% when we consider those between the ages of 18 and 30.”
Senator Imoke maintained that Cross River has long before now taken certain steps that will make programmes/projects of this magnitude excel and have huge impact on Cross Riverians and the BRACED states.
“Through the Investment Promotion Bureau, we have been able to set up the Micro Finance and Enterprise Development Agency (MEDA) to promote and deliberately cultivate the entrepreneurial spirit amongst our young people, re-orientate them towards private enterprise” he said.
The governor revealed that in agriculture Cross River has established a Songhai farm based on the Songhai model of agricultural enterprise. The first 98 Cross River indigene participants that were sponsored by the state government have completed their training, returned from Porto Novo, Benin Republic and are currently undergoing entrepreneurship training at the CBN-EDC.
Last month the state launched an incubation centre at Tinapa knowledge city, a project driven by the need to provide a creative environment for Information Communication Technology (ICT) proficient youths.
Also, the state government has invested in manufacturing of all kinds of product ranging from industrial to household products from global companies like global electric and wilmer international which have generated 50,000 jobs.
Not forgetting that the state is at the frontline of tourism in the country. The CBN-EDCs provides seamless integration with what has already started in the state therefore, all hands must be on deck to actualize the set goals
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