SMEDAN tasks youths to harness potentials for wealth creation, nation’s growth

By Sani Idris

The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) says youths need to harness the potentials in waste materials for creating wealth for the nation’s economic growth.

The Director-General of SMEDAN, Mr Charles Odii, stated this in Kaduna at the 7th edition of the agency’s 2023 talent hunt, with the theme “Circulating: reimagining and reutilisation of resources”.

The talent hunt was in collaboration with the Kaduna State Government and supported by Jaiz Bank.

Odii was represented by Prof. Yinka Fisher, the Acting Director, Partnership and Coordination Department of SMEDAN.

He noted that waste was loaded with a lot of potentials of wealth, which according to him, was enough to take Nigeria’s dependency away from oil and other resources being overstretched over the years.

He added that the conversion of waste to useful and valuable items and commodities, if well harnessed by the youth, would go a long way in reducing the burden of government on job creation and reducing climate challenges.

According to him, the agency is committed in identifying talents among youths who are making impact in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

He expressed concern that a lot of young Nigerians with innovative business talents were limited with opportunities to express/showcase them or take action towards the conception.

“These individuals are scattered across Nigerians willing to contribute in their own ways to the development of Nigeria,  most importantly, the undergraduates.

“Also, graduates, unemployed youths and adults, who can contribute to the GDP of the nation, are critical in fostering strategic youth development
and nation-building.

“This programme is to chase for these individuals and sublime them in productive activities,” Odii said.

According to him, the practice of collecting, treating and recycling waste prior to disposal has become a necessity in developing and modern societies.

The DG, however, lamented that over the years, most wastes were regarded as having second-rate value and could be recovered and reused for valuable

“Waste recycle has emerged as one of the greatest challenges facing many developing countries. Daily human activities lead to the generation of various classes of waste, which is seen as a major environmental threat to many cities in developing nations worldwide.

“The factors affecting such a high rate of change in waste generation
includes population growth, changing lifestyles, income growth, increasing use of disposable materials, excessive packaging of items, and consumer habits.”

The DG also lamented that most developing countries, including Nigeria, had waste recycling issues different from those found in industrialised countries as
regards to composition, density.

This is despite several investment opportunities that waste recycling offers with very high return on investment for public and private sectors.

“In Nigeria, waste densities generally range from 250-370kg/m, unfortunately people in many developing countries, including Nigeria, have until recently regarded the issue of proper waste recycling as trivial.

“This may have diverted attention away from the most urgent and serious problem of achieving a fast rate of economic growth, this attitude stems from the belief that waste generation is an inevitable price for development,” Odii said.

The DG said that the overarching objective of the talent hunt was to provide a platform and unique opportunity for young people to showcase their talents in the secular world and ensure that what they
were showcasing created jobs, employment and revenues.

Mr Abubakar Buba, the Kaduna State Commissioner for Environment and Natural Resources, said that yearly, the state generated more than 900 tons of waste.

Buba, represented by Mr Yusuf Muazu, added that the state was transforming into integrated waste management system.

Also, Dr Yusuf Saleh, the Permanent Secretary, Kaduna State Ministry of Business Innovation and Technology, commended SMEDAN for the initiative.

He added that the North-west region was declining in business, saying that the idea of waste to wealth if well harnessed, would braise up businesses in the region.

He described the issues of converting waste to wealth as a baby idea which needed all hands on deck to maximise the benefits inherent in it.

Also, a Branch Manager of Jaiz Bank in Kaduna, Alhassan Ado, said their support for MSMEs was due to their commitment in supporting the nation’s building through financing and partnership with private and public sectors.

He disclosed that the bank had a lot of funds yet to be secured by MSMEs in promoting their businesses.

He urged the public to tap into the funds for their benefits and the nation’s economy at large.

Earlier, the Speaker of the Kaduna State House of Assembly, Mr Yusuf Liman, said the economy could only be developed through private sector.

Liman, represented by his deputy, Mr Magaji Henry, urged the participants to deviate from thinking of getting white collar jobs, adding that the potentials inherent in waste materials were enough to make one an employer of labour.

He expressed the willingness of the state House of Assembly to create laws that would ensure legislation on waste materials and enabling environment for MSMEs to thrive.(NAN)