By Felix Khanoba
The Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) says its furniture and wood enterprise cluster, under construction at Industrial Development Centre (IDC), Idu, Abuja, has reached 80 percent completion level.
Dr Dikko Radda, Director-General, SMEDAN, who disclosed this on Thursday during a facility tour of the project by SMEDAN and the Commerce and Industry Correspondents Association of Nigeria (CICAN), said the projects will be completed by the end of 2021.
The SMEDAN-CICAN facility tour was aimed at accessing the completion level and benefits of the ongoing SMEDAN furniture and wood enterprise cluster project.
The cluster park is an agglomeration of enterprises in a geographical location to promote development of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) for economic growth.
The Abuja pilot scheme, sitting on 1.8 hectares of land, comprises an administrative block with One-Stop-Shop, workshops, warehouses is expected to accommodate 525 MSMEs when operational.
Radda, represented by Mr Anthony Igba, Deputy Director, Department of Engineering Technology and Infrastructure, said the project began in 2020.
According to him, the pilot project will be completed tentatively at the end of 2021, based on availability of funds.
He recalled that the African Development Bank (AfDB) provided a grant of $600.000 (N228.3m) for SMEDAN to conduct a viability study for the conversion of the IDCs across the country into cluster parks.
He noted that in the bid to make the IDCs functional, SMEDAN conducted a viability study in 2018 to ascertain if they are viable in Nigeria with comparative advantage for marketability in huge markets, hence Abuja was chosen for the pilot furniture project.
“The study showed that the conversion of the IDCs into furniture clusters will be a viable project and equally provide the type of infrastructure and machineries to be put in place to equip the entrepreneurs.
“This project will enable the MSMEs to come up with products that are competitive within the West African market region, it will take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
“Through this, there will be creation of jobs, employment and economy of scales by having a shared infrastructure and common facility.
“There will also be a One-Stop-Shop comprising SMEDAN and other regulatory agencies namely Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and Environmental Board.
“The MSMEs that will be operational in the cluster will have easy access to product testing and certification, while it will provide machineries and facilities to enable quality products and competitiveness,’’ he said.
Radda, who noted that the MSMEs especially those involved in furniture making had been operating under a harsh environment, assured that the cluster on completion would meet global standards and provide a conducive environment for the MSMEs to thrive.
“We will work with MSMEs associations and equally will provide the machinery needed to ease production,’’ he added.
He said the government was using the cluster as a pilot scheme to demonstrate its workability, adding that it would be done under Private, Public Partnership (PPP) thereafter.
There are 23 clusters across the country, on fast moving consumer goods, textiles, spices, leather and among others established based on the comparative advantage of the states.