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Nigeria’s Enterprise space: toolkits for the youths (1)



By Steve Orji – There is an unfolding economic downward spiral going on in the world economy, especially in Europe.

Although Africa has always had long-range structural problems, with its constituent economies permanently depressed.

With Greece, Cyprus, and Spain thriving off on bail-outs by the world multilateral financial agency- IMF, and the Euro zone financial consortium led by Germany, these countries have no choice but to model their lean economies on austerity checklists as condition to sustain the availed bailouts and repay their debt obligations on schedule.

The world isn’t fully recovered from the fall outs of the not-so-long financial meltdown. That singular incident kicked up so much dust in many countries, like America, plummeting its national wealth reserves, ramping up the density of unemployment especially within the core active population of the youths.

Africa was not left out-Nigeria being the most populous nation in Africa, had a share of this economic turbulence- capital flight, scanty direct foreign investments and soaring cost of living. Banks could only extend credit services at very high rates and the common man was left with a short breathe, struggling to survive.

Today with falling oil prices, oil dependent economies, like Nigeria are already nervous of the oncoming financial shockwaves this might send. The long-range ramification of this unstable economic trend is state’s incapacity to always honour its statutory social obligations of job creation, and provisioning of infrastructure.

This duty unfortunately will fall on the lap of the private sector. The enterprise space, which is the common turf that allows every citizen the chance of economic participation is becoming very active in many African economies, including Nigeria, orchestrating growth in per-person income.

Yet given Nigeria’s stupendous population figures, this space is barely optimized.

How can the teeming Nigerian youths take advantage of Nigeria’s beckoning enterprise space, revolutionise it, and precipitate long-range capital growth, domiciled within Nigeria’s economic household?

Here are a few perspectives:

The Small, Medium Enterprise (SME) scheme, was meant to be an economic bridge, closing up the income gap between the very rich and the dirt poor. It has proved an economic life-line, in some countries like America, Britain and China, with critical mass of its youths becoming economically active. Nigeria had equally gleaned from these models, but has yet to acquit itself of the abundant promise trapped in the scheme. The proposed institutional vehicles, like the Microfinance Banks which were set up to provide financial framework for the SME’s, most of which has long lost capacity, and hurtled to a stop, should be revived. Lack of efficient management and cursory oversight by supervisory authorities like the CBN killed this noble idea. What is left of some Microfinance banks in Nigeria is mere façade of an internally pillaged shop floor. Corruption and routine mismanagement has ruined its ability to functionally support SME upstarts. Can the government re-launch this initiative?

Business education could become pivotal in propping the minds of youths for effective economic participation. Only few tertiary institutions have in their curricula relevant business education suitable to promote entrepreneurial initiatives amongst the youths. Government should ensure business education is made compulsory at such levels of learning.


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