The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Chief Niyi Adebayo, has disclosed that a total of N56.84 billion has been disbursed to the drivers of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in Nigeria, out of the N75 billion survival fund earmarked to energise the sector by President Muhammadu Buhari’s government.

The minister said this Monday during the opening of a technical session of the 13th meeting of the National Council on Industry, Investment and Trade held in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital.

Adebayo, represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Evelyn Ngige, said the scheme is targeted at strenghtening ordinary Nigerians and reduce the poverty index to the nearest minimum.

He said: “On the N75 billion MSME Survival Fund, the programme has disbursed N8.80 billion to 293,336 beneficiaries under the Artisan Support & Transport Scheme, N43.92 billion to 459,334 beneficiaries under the Payroll Support Scheme, and N4.12 billion to 82.491 beneficiaries under the MSME Grant Scheme.

“In total, the sum of N56.84 billion has been disbursed to 835,161 beneficiaries under the MSME Survival Fund scheme.”

Adebayo added that the ministry has begun full activation of the six private sector-led Special Economic Zones of Lekki, Eyimba, Funtua, lbom, Kano and Benue, saying they are working through the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority to ensure the Authority delivers the establishment of three SEZs in 2022,

In addition, Adebayo said the ministry had “in line with the presidential directive for the establishment of at least one Agro-Processing Zone in each of the 109 senatorial zones, commenced the process of collecting agro-commodities data in 16 states of Ebonyi, Plateau, Edo, Jigawa Ondo, Gombe, Abia, Benue, Osun, Sokolo, Zamfara, Enugu, Ekifi, Bauchi, Kebbi and Bayelsa for the first phase of the implementation”.

“Ensuring credit access to 10 million MSMEs at a single-digit rate. In the implementation of this strategic pillar of the federal government to reduce the rate of unemployment in the country, the ministry through the Bank of Industry (BoI) has disbursed N15 billion to 863 MSME businesses across several sectors,” he said.

The minister said the ministry has actively continued to expand its collaboration with the private sector to create well-paying jobs for the Nigerian youths in fulfillment of the job creation objective of the government.

“The ministry, through the Industrial Training Fund (ITF), has trained one thousand, two hundred and eleven (1,211) beneficiaries under its Info-Tech Skills Empowerment Programme (ISEP), Passion to Profession, and other Special Skills Intervention Programmes,” he said.

The former governor said as part of government’s efforts to reduce poverty through the creation of jobs, various strategic wealth creation programmes have been embarked upon by the ministry through the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN).

“These initiatives are all geared towards Mr. President’s promise of taking 100 million Nigerians out of poverty within the next 10 years,” he added.