The Federation of Construction Industry (FOCI) is planning to bridge skills gap in the construction industry and reduce reliance on artisans from neighbouring countries, especially on engineering-focused skills.
Consequently, the United Nations United Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) is partnering with FOCI to develop online tool that would help identify new competencies and create new knowledge in innovations to be deployed in the built environment.
At the UNESCO Technical and Vocational Education for the Construction Industry training, which was organised in partnership with FOCI Skills Academy (FSA) and Bridging Innovation and Learning in Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in Abuja, FOCI President, Nasiru Dantata, said the federation wants to train and groom skilled artisans in the construction industry.
Dantata stated that the Bridging Innovation and Learning in TVET (BILT) project is crucial in identifying qualification and competence to be integrated into curricula and implemented through innovative approaches.
“FOCI has over the years associated with major stakeholders in developing appropriate curricula relevant to the aims and objectives the academy. We want to expand beyond training for our industry and train Nigerians that can work anywhere in the world.
“FSA was registered in 2019 as a training provider on Dual Vocational Training (DVT) in three construction trades (Masonry, Carpentry and Plumbing).
“The training was designed to be of international standard and in conformity with the Nigerian skills qualification framework.
“We remain committed to increasing partnership with UNESCO to take care of current practices, identify strength and opportunities in achieving aims of the academy,” he added.
Dantata observed that COVID-19 outbreak impacted negatively in the industry in the last five years, stressing that the construction industry has bounced back and become busy through the support of both the State and the Federal Governments, as well as private sector.
Also speaking, Director General of FOCI, Olubunmi Adekole, explained that FOCI academy is one of the eight institutions chosen by UNESCO for the BILT programme.
Adekole stated that the purpose of the programme is to ensure innovation in the work place and academy.
“We started the academy because of the need to train more artisans as our workers are ageing and we have to cross the borders to scout for good artisans. We felt that there are so many young Nigerians that can do better if well trained.”
In his presentation, UNESCO Project Manager, Mr. Wilson Lima Junior, said technology eliminates jobs and will continue to cause displacement throughout the economy.
He explained that the UNESCO programme is an online tool, which allow institutions to reflect on their performance and hire workers with qualifications and competencies.
DBN Secures €25m From Bank For MSMEs, Renewable Energy
As part of its contribution to resuscitate the Nigerian ailing economy, the KFW Development Bank has injected €25million into the Nigerian economy for the growth and development of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and the renewable energy sector through the Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN) Plc.
Commenting on the development at the DBN Office in Lagos, Managing Director/CEO of DBN, Tony Okpanachi, said KFW Bank has always been supportive of Nigeria’s economy in various sectors, and that it is keen to see MSMEs and the energy sector bounce back.
He said, “Today, we just signed an agreement for a credit line of €25m provided by KFW bank to DBN to finance MSMEs.
“We are wholesale Development Finance Institution (DFI) poised to provide access to credit to MSMEs through wholesale lending to financial institutions and other microfinance banks. We provide them with wholesale funds to onward lending to MSMEs”.
He said DBN already has 65 financial institutions in line with green and renewable energy and businesses in MSMEs that relate directly with the small businesses to support them.
According to him, the bank would do monitoring and evaluation of the process.
“By the time we provide them with the Line and they come to draw on the line, we will know which customers they are lending to directly, we sit down with customers and discuss and find out how they utilise the funds and how it has impacted their businesses.
“We are not just disbursing funds to our financing partners and relaxing, we shall monitor them throughout the process. The ultimate end is the impact on them and the economy”, he said.
The banker expressed optimism about the funding, saying there would be regular reporting feedback from the partners (financial institutions) when they draw the line.
As for cost, he said the banks would decide because they bear the credit risks. However, he noted that the criteria and conditions to access credit would be streamline.
“This is an interesting time for MSMEs because they are the bedrock of every economy. With this credit, they would expand businesses, create jobs and boost our GDP.
“We are not unmindful of the harsh economic environment and that is why in DBN we create access to funds in different areas, so we push for moratoriums, for longer tenures for MSMEs to ensure their businesses can mature and stay stable before they are able to pay”, he stated.
On his part, the Senior Portfolio Manager (Equity Investment/Funds, sub-Sahara Africa and Latin America) for KFW bank, Pierre Annutsch, said the financial institution would continue to offer support in diverse ways to the Nigerian economy.
FG To Inaugurate Council, As Google Grants N75m To SMEs
To support the over 40 million small businesses in Nigeria, the Federal Government is planning to inaugurate the Council for Small and Medium scale Enterprises in Nigeria (SMEs).
This was revealed Monday in Abuja by the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Job Creations and SMEs, Tola Adekunle-Johnson, at the graduation of 5,300 Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) from Google’s Hustle Academy.
The graduation marked the continuation of the programme’s impact, with over 10,300 entrepreneurs having participated since its inception in 2022 with 4,400 from Nigeria.
The Hustle Academy, designed to address specific challenges faced by SMBs in Africa, offers practical skills and resources to help these businesses grow.
Adekunle-Johnson said the SME Council was necessary, going by the significant contributions of small businesses to the Nigerian economy, stressing that SMEs need huge support to thrive, especially now.
While appreciating the efforts of Google, the SSA on Job Creation and SMEs said the FG will support what the technology firm is doing.
Stressing the need to support SMEs, the Director-General of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Charles Odii, said SMEs are the life wire of any economy.
Odii disclosed that the likes of MTN, Google and other multinationals are just four per cent of the businesses in the country, while the rest 96 per cent are small businesses doing so much.
He said the SMBs created 80 per cent of the jobs in the economy and about 72 per cent of such businesses are led by women within the age range of 20 to 60 years.
Odii stressed that small businesses must be supported, disclosing that SMEDAN, Office of VP, National Information Technology Development Association (NITDA), the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) have been providing massive support.
On his part, the Google West Africa Country Director, Olumide Balogun, said graduates from the Hustle Academy were picked across the six geo-political zones of Nigeria.
“The passion and resilience shown by these SMBs are truly inspiring. The Hustle Academy is a testament to what focused training and resources can achieve.
“We are not just celebrating their graduation today, we are recognizing their potential to reshape and invigorate the Nigerian business landscape”, he stated.
Balogun, who said of the over 10,000 SMEs, about 4,400 were from Nigeria, noted that small businesses remained the lifeblood of any economy.
He said inflation, forex instability, cost of living, and insecurity among others have compounded issues facing small businesses in the country.
Referencing lnternational Monetary Fund (IMF), Balogun, who said there are several million SMEs in SSA with a $400 billion funding gap, noted that small businesses in Africa need the required skills to boost access to funding, “and Google is ready to provide the tech skills to support their growth”.
Bank Partners Firm To Power SMEs, Rural Communities
Access Bank Plc, in collaboration with Asolar, has launched a green energy solution to tackle power supply challenges faced by small and medium enterprises and rural communities across the country.
The products, which included solar-powered TV sets, Air Conditioners, and PoS machines, were launched yesterday at the Access Bank Branch in Garki, Abuja.
Speaking during the unveiling ceremony tagged, “Light up your community”, the Access Bank Deputy Managing Director, Victor Etuokwu, said the inconsistent power supply has become a major obstacle to businesses and livelihoods in the country.
Represented by the bank’s Director of Regional Services, Neka Adogu, Mr Etuokwu said the initiative was aimed at promoting financial inclusion in rural areas.
He said, “This inconsistent power supply poses a substantial challenge for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as well as initiatives aimed at promoting financial inclusion in rural areas, which is considered a yardstick for economic growth in Nigeria.
“Currently, in Nigeria, owners of SMEs and people living in rural communities with non or little power supply, spend huge sums in procuring generating sets, purchasing fuel, and the maintenance of generators to operate their business successfully.
“Furthermore, in the broader context of financial inclusion, the absence of power accessibility becomes a critical barrier”.
In his remarks, the Chief Executive Officer of Asolar, Hakeem Shagaya, said the company was committed to ensuring every citizen has access to reliable and sustainable energy across the country.
While appreciating the management of the bank for the collaboration, Mr Shagaya said the initiative was in line with the sustainable development goals on clean and renewable energy.
In her remark, Chizoba Iheme, Group Head, Financial Inclusion, Access Bank Plc, said the bank has over 300,000 Access agents across the country to facilitate the distribution across Nigeria.
The initiative is generally geared towards proffering a lasting solution to the problem of power ( light) faced by SMEs across Nigeria; especially those situated in rural areas.
It is predominantly expected to enhance business sustainability and growth amongst SMEs across Nigeria.
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