The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Monday disclosed plans to write to the universities to begin to conduct kind of entrepreneurship development competition programme. Afterwards, the CBN would develop framework under which this can be done. The essence of this is to stimulate entrepreneurial skills among youth.

“Given our population growth rate and the large number of our graduating students, we need to begin to see how SMEs can be incubated because it is SMEs that develop into large corporates and that is how they become great companies of the future,” said Godwin Emefiele, governor of the CBN. He advised the universities to get the students to embrace entrepreneurial skills in agriculture using digital technology, adding that agriculture remains the most profitable business he has ever seen. The CBN governor pleaded 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, 5 July 2021, 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 perform more efficiently and become globally competitive.

He highlighted the critical role of vibrant and growing SMEs to 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 perform more efficiently and become globally competitive. While noting that the potential of SMEs in enhancing economic growth was hampered by limited access to finance, inadequate infrastructure and poor digital penetration, . Emefiele enjoined 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, he urged that policies should incentivise the adoption of innovations that will improve SMEs competitiveness and productivity. 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.

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 implementation of sound ideas generated from the universities. He, however, 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 minimise mismatches between the skills required by firms and the educational qualifications of Nigerian graduates.

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