The federal government has been advised to tilt towards an informal driven economy to create more employment and significantly reduce poverty.
Stakeholders who spoke at the National Technology Management Forum for Directors of Science and Technology gave the advice in Port Harcourt.
The National Centre for Technology Management (NACETEM), an Agency of the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation held its 6th Annual Technology Management Forum on Monday, 9th and Tuesday, 10th August, 2021 in Port Harcourt.
At the forum tagged ‘Strengthening and Sustaining the Informal Sector in the Era of COVID-19: What Role for Government?’ stakeholders stressed the need for the government to pay more attention to informal sector so as to boost employment and aggregate income.
Prof Samuel Gowon Edoumiekumo, Vice Chancellor, Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island informal sector plays critical role in job and wealth creation, saying it’s a vital tool to move the teeming Nigerian population out of poverty and economic hardship.
According to Prof Edoumiekumo , Internal sector created around 90% of new job, 80% of non-agricultural employment, and 60% of urban jobs , giving it the backbone of the former sector.
While itemising some of the challenges of the informal sector, the University Don said identified lack of skilled labourer, low access to credit and unstable power supply among others.
He urged the government to give more attention to informal sector of economy so as to creat more jobs , considerably reduce poverty and increase wealth.
“There is the need for governemnt to identify and give low interest loan to individual in need of credit in the informal sector.
“There is need for governemnt to improve on power generation and distribution in the country this will not only reduce the cost of doing business in the country but also bring about growth in output and wealth in the informal sector.”
Also Speaking, Mrs Ifeyinwa Nwankpa , Honourable Commissioner, River State Ministry of Commerce and Industry, said this part of the economy is particularly large in Nigeria, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimating it to constitute about 60 per cent of the entire Nigerian economy.
She, therefore, stressed the need for a new approach to developing the sector to spur job creation.
She urged the government to pay more attention to the sector because governemnt cannot singlehandedly provide jobs for every person in its domain. She stressed the need to consider the development of informal skills amongst Nigeria’s working-age population.
With this, according to the her, the government could create and sponsor well-equipped platforms that bring individuals who intend to learn skills and corresponding experts together.
In his welcome address, Engineer Professor Okechukwu Ukwuoma, The Director-General/Chief Executive Officer, National Centre for Technology Management (NACETEM) said Nigerian Informal sector plays a major contribution to the Nigerian economy.
He noted that the Forum was primarily designed to discuss the critical roles of government during the COVID-19 era, which has not only disrupted all facets of life, but has completely changed the dynamics of how people work.
“It therefore becomes important to begin to interrogate how best the various sectors – formal and informal – of the economy should operate in an era which has been described as the New Normal.
“To lead the way here is government, as policy direction is essential in rejigging and revamping the nation’s economy. To this end, this Forum has thus been aptly themed: “Strengthening and sustaining the Informal sector in the Era of COVID-19: What Role for Government?”
“NACETEM is an Agency of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology that provides critical knowledge support in the area of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) management for sustainable development.
“This Forum, which has addressed several national topical challenges in years past, is thus part of the ways of fulfilling the Agency’s mandates.
“It needs to be noted that NACETEM has been actively involved in coming up with solutions to the COVID-19 since its outbreak in Nigeria.
“The Agency has conducted series of research on COVID-19 as it affects households, small and medium enterprises, among others.
“The contributions of the Agency actually formed an integral part of the nation’s blueprint on responses to the virus. It is for these reasons we believe that it is time to further walk the talk by bringing relevant stakeholders together to see how to strengthen and sustain the informal sector, the engine room of economy the world over. We are optimistic that the invited stakeholders will contribute meaningfully to the success of this Forum. While we look forward to this, I welcome you heartily to this Forum.
“I want to express the gratitude of NACETEM to all the invited stakeholders for honouring our invitation. Without the stakeholders at this Forum, our gathering here would have been impossible! Your presence with us is an indication of our commitment to fostering greater societal ties and advancing knowledge and understanding about important global challenges.
“In fact, the importance of institutions, whether national or global, in addressing pandemic is highly critical. How these institutions adapt and respond to internal and external changes will go a long way in determining their relevance and influence in this century.
“NACETEM, as an institution of government, is pivotal in this direction and it is calling on others to join in coming up with practicable solutions to pandemics, specifically the COVID-19 which has seriously decimated lives and economies.”
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