The 4th edition of the Conference of the Nigeria Trae Associations (CONiTA) was held virtually on the 24th November, 2022, it started-off at 10:00am. The Conference of Nigeria Trade Associations is said to be a foremost multi-interface seeking to influence diverse trade associations to evolve sustainability models and to harness their common potentials in drive enabling policies and recommendations for inclusive growth, good governance and shared prosperity encompassing sustainable development goals and the Africa Agenda 2063.
While the Conference had in attendance diverse professionals and tradesmen, speakers took turn to present their papers and feeding questions as they come. Mr. Nelson Obine, convener of the Conference made a presentation on the impression of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement awareness and leadership of the organized private sectors across trade associations and their members as it relates to the theme of the Conference: The Place of Small and Micro Enterprise for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development in Africa; Mr. Obine, paper assessed the report of the survey of 1,804 MSME by the Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa (CSEA) across Nigeria in four sectors viz agriculture, manufacturing, services, and wholesale/retail to ascertain the degree of small and micro enterprises in the place of inclusive economic growth with cognizance to the awareness of the AfCFTA opportunities and benefits. However, the outcome showed a disengagement with the leadership and members of the various trade associations in Nigeria. Going by size in classification of enterprises in Nigeria; 73% of the small and micro enterprises could not attest to the awareness of the AfCTA while only 33% of the medium size entrepreneurs attest to the awareness. The data before us portrays a lacuna yearning for inclusive economic growth across economic agents, trade associations and chambers of commerce that made up the organize private sector (OPS) such as Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), Nigeria Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Nigeria Association of Small Scale Industries (NASSI), Nigeria Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME) that participated in the Research. He urged the leadership of the organized private sector, the leadership of AfCFTA and the government to embark on mass awareness on the concepts and benefits of the AFCTA in Nigeria and in Africa in general.
Mr. Tony Peters, a guest speaker encouraged small business to consider the importance of book keeping and accounting. He suggested a model where trade associations can organize and deploy accounting services to members at a minimum rate periodically. Do other documentations as and when due, tax payment, filling of documents and adherence to regulations. Mr. Tony further proposed that trade associations should organize themself in such a way that can be credible to enable them access loan from finance institutions. Small businesses looking to expand their businesses can come together as a group and liaise with leadership of their respective trade associations to get access to loan facility, institutions such as bank of industry has various kind of loan for small and medium business organizations in Nigeria, he added.
One of the keynote speaker Prof. Labode Popoola in his paper delivery focused on Small and Medium Enterprise for Sustainable Development, Lesson for Nigeria; He identified the brackets in capital structures and number of employees that are used in categorizing the sizes of enterprise in Nigeria. Small Medium Enterprises (SME) are the major driver of global economy growth as a role in achieving sustainable development.
He said, small enterprises are essentially local in nature and are localized in the place of residence, while medium enterprises can have a global market for his products and services. SMEs are socially and economically important. Prof Labode concluded that SME are the major driver of global economy growth as a role in achieving sustainable development. Mr. Emmanuel Olowoyo, a sustainability advocate seconded the mega strength that shapes prosperity in the coming decade to include; human well-being and economic development, education and gender empowerment, sustainable cities and infrastructures.
Dr. Amos Obi, a keynote speaker countered the notion of poverty as a bane for unproductiveness. Innovation in small and medium scale enterprise, will help us change the narratives that says Nigeria is the headquarter of poverty in the world. SME plays vital roles in reducing unemployment which is a pointer to achieving a peaceful sustainable world. Dr. Obi emphasized that the economy provides opportunities for both the Small and Micro Enterprise in achieving inclusive economic growth and called for participation on Green Enterprise, as the world is talking on climate change.
The immediate past conference, 2021 edition came to a climax with an award ceremony in a consensus. Mr. Babatunde Irukera, Executive Vice-Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), and the Lagos State Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment bagged an Award of Recognition respectively for outstanding dedication and commitment towards inclusive growth, shared prosperity and sustainable development.
The Conference has held four editions since it started in year 2018 with theme “Harnessing the Power of Trade Associations for Good Governance, Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity”. The theme for 2019 was “Convergence of Informal Sector and Trade Associations for Sustainable Development”; the theme of the conference in year 2021 was ‘Governance and Economic Prosperity in a Pandemic World’ and the just concluded 2022 edition with the theme: The Place of Small and Micro Enterprise for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development in Africa; both of them witnessed support and participation from diverse sectors and industry and becoming a voice in the drive for sustainable development.