by Cletus Udoh
In order to realize its vision for the development of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) sector of the economy, the Akwa Ibom State Government in collaboration with the Bank of Industry, has organized a training programme for proper coordination of the MSMEs beneficiaries for the post COVID-19 Relief Packages of government, which in turn, will encourage economic growth and employment generation in the State.
The training exercise basically, was to equip the agents with the needed skills to identify and capture the MSMEs that will benefit from the NG – CARES Grants at the State Government level.
The grant became very necessary as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic that had shut down activities of most MSMEs which form the basis for economic and industrial growth, many which are still struggling to survive.
These were made known yesterday during a one-day World Bank CARES – RA3 Enumeration Agents Training and Assessment Exercise put together by Akwa Ibom State Government in collaboration with the Bank of Industry at Edinan Hotels and Suites, Aka Etinan Road, Uyo.
Declaring the training programme open, the Chairman – State Steering Committee on COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (CARES) and the Commissioner, Economic Development and Ibom Deep Seaport, Mr. Akan Okon said, the Nigeria CARES programme through Result Area 3 seeks to facilitate recovery and enhance capacities of MSMEs by easing financial constraints, provision of employment and job creation grants, which will eventually help ailing MSMEs to get back on their feet.
He lauded the sensitivity of His Excellency, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, the World Bank and the Bank of Industry for their efforts and magnanimity in having the progress of the State at heart through the programme aimed at revitalizing MSMEs sector.
In his welcome address, the Commissioner for Trade and Investment and a member of the State Steering Committee on CARES, Prince Ukpong Akpabio, represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mr Oliver Udoukpo saw the NG – CARES, Result Area 3 as a major National and State intervention programme to facilitate recovery and therefore expressed hope that, the grant would go a long way to incentivize MSMEs to function again as well as reach Pre-COVID-19 level of employment.
The Akwa Ibom Investment Boss who emphasized on the importance of MSMEs to economic development, appreciated the World Bank and the Bank of Industry for their collaboration that resulted in the training and hailed the State Governor for his interest and approval to enable Akwa Ibom State benefit from the NG – CARES programme while calling on the trainees to be focused and pragmatic in order to reap the full benefits of the programme so that they can capture all affected MSMEs in the State for optimal benefits.
In their separate remarks, the Team Leader, Bank of Industry, Mr Goodnews Adewale and the Programme Manager of Akwa Ibom State Agency for Community and Social Development, Mr. Ishmael Akpan who was represented by Mr. Martin Albert, identified the World Bank CARES programme as grant given by the World Bank through the Bank of Industry to the state to alleviate the biting effects of COVID-19 Pandemic and urged the beneficiaries to make very good use of the gesture in order to revamp their businesses to boost the Akwa Ibom State’s economy.
In attendance were, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Economic Development and Ibom Deep Seaport, and member State Steering Committee on CARES, Mr Effiong Ekpenyong and Secretary – State Steering Committee on CARES, Mrs. Enobong Okpongkpong, the State Manager of the Programme and Director of Industry, Mr Michael Essien-Ibanga, the Monitoring & Evaluation Leader of the Programme and Director of PRS, Ministry of Trade and Investment, Mr Idongesit Ekpo, Management of BOI and CSDP, facilitators and others.