Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun (SAN), the Vice-Chancellor of the Lagos State University (LASU), has urged Nigerians to embrace Micro, Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (MSMEs), saying they are important agents of economic growth across the world.
Fagbohun made the appeal at the second Research Fair of the Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo, Lagos State held on Tuesday in Lagos.
The theme of the research fair was: “Innovative Products and Designs for Micro, Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (MSMEs)”.
Fagbohun noted that in Japan, for instance, 80 per cent of the total industrial workforce were in the SME sector, 50 per cent in Germany and 46 per cent in the United States of America.
“In some developing nations such as India, Indonesia and Mali, SMEs have been recognised to constitute more than 95 per cent of the manufacturing sector.
“SMEs have become a very strong engine for development in terms of provision of employment, industrial output and export promotion.”
He said that LASU as an institution that is responsive to the needs of its society and an incubator for research and technology had chosen the current theme so that it can contribute its quota to the advancement of MSMEs in the country.
“Our focus this year is on MSMEs because the government is making efforts to diversify the economy by reducing its dependence on crude oil for revenue generation,” Fagbohun said.
The Vice-Chancellor said that the idea of having a LASU research fair was conceived upon establishing that there was a dearth of a conducive forum for persons with laudable ideas to network and discuss.
Fagbohun added that the Fair was within the University space, where individuals with laudable research ideas can come together, ventilate, share their ideas and network with colleagues.
Also speaking, Prof. Adebayo Ninalowo, the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council of LASU, said that the theme of the research fair was very apt for the country because small scale enterprises were the engines of any economy.
Ninalowo said that universities were expected to contribute to the innovations and research on businesses in the country.
In his opening remarks, Prof. Olumuyiwa Odusanya, Director, Research Management and Innovation, LASU, said that MSMEs employed over eight per cent of the country’s total workforce.
Odusanya added that it contributed nearly 50 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country.
According to him, ignoring this sector will lead to increasing poverty, hunger and unemployment.
“Through this research fair, our University demonstrates its commitment to solving priority national problems, improve the lives of Nigerians and to be a strategic partner both to government and the private sector.
“A 2017 survey by the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) identified some challenges facing this important sector of the economy.
“The challenges include inconsistent government policies, limited access to finance, poor infrastructure, high operating costs, poor business development services and the use of obsolete technology,” he said.
He added that many more academic staff had won research grants, while the number of research proposals submitted to funding agencies within and outside the country had increased.
“This has been one major focus of our activities in the Directorate of Research Management and Innovation.
“A key feature of the ranking of LASU was the research citation in which we were in the top three per cent globally.
“Our directorate, which has been at the centre of the ranking process, will do more to push the frontiers of research at LASU,” Odusanya said.