The Governor of the Central bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele, has asked managers of higher institutions of learning in the country to draw knowledge from curricula that cater to the modern realities of the country.
Mr Emefiele made the call during the 51st convocation lecture of the University of Lagos on Tuesday where he was invited as the guest speaker on the topic: National Development And Knowledge Economy In The Digital Age: Leapfrogging SMEs Into the 21st Century.
The CBN boss harped on the need for an enhanced learning experience for students as well as fostered innovation amongst faculty and staff in schools across the country.
In his presentation, Mr Emefiele said: “enhanced collaboration between universities and players in key sectors of our economy such as agriculture, manufacturing and ICT are necessary to enable implementation of sound ideas generated from our universities. For instance, universities in most developing countries have little or no formal linkages to industry. This often arises from the implementation of training curricula that is irrelevant to the industry, thereby, resulting in the production of ill-equipped graduates.”
As one of the steps to addressing that challenge, Emefiele advocated collaboration between institutions of higher learning and industry key players in key sectors of the economy.
Mr Emefiele maintained that “the current economic situation in Nigeria requires an accelerated adoption of knowledge to drive our developmental goals. The fast pace of growth and innovation in the digital space along with the large and growing population of vibrant youths places Nigeria on a vantage position to harness these potentials for accelerated development.”
He beamed his light on advanced economies whom he affirmed had adopted technology-driven development models rather than the previously adopted traditional factors of production including labour and capital.
The CBN governor identified SMEs as the backbone of national and economic development which he said is due to their contributions to GDP through employment generation and poverty eradication.
He gave identified SMEs as accounting for close to 90 per cent of total enterprises in most countries. In a report which he said is from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, 98 per cent of Chinese firms are SMEs, contributing around 68 per cent to exports and a whopping 60 per cent to Chinese’s GDP while employing 75per cent of the Chinese workforce. The experiences of Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Hong Kong are like China with about 90 per cent of their industries classified as SMEs.
In spite of the numerous benefits of the SMEs to economic development and job creation, limited access to finance, inadequate infrastructure and poor digital penetration were some of the challenges Mr Emefiele identified to be confronting it.
To tackle those challenges, the CBN boss revealed some of the interventions of the apex bank to include the provision of support to selected higher institutions in the country to enhance training and quality as well as development of finance interventions to support SMEs.
Other programmes of the bank include the SME Credit Guarantee Scheme (SMECGS), Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Programme (YEDP); Agribusiness/Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS). Others are the Entrepreneurship Development Centres (EDCs), National Collateral Registry(NCR), Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI), Targeted Credit Facility (TCF) and the Nigeria Youth Investment Fund (NYIF).
Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund is another scheme through which Mr Emefiele said the CBN is channelling low-interest wholesale funds to the MSME segment.
So far, over N83.9 billion are reported to have been disbursed to 216,704 beneficiaries with a nine 9 per cent interest charge.
Former Vice presidential candidate, Pastor Tunde Bakare was the Chairman of the convocation lecture.
He advised graduating students to take up the attributes of respect for value, discipline, dedication, calculated risk, integrity and intelligence; attributes he said he learnt from his mother and have helped him through life.