SMEs Express Mixed Feelings Over Border Closure
Nigeria Border Closures One of the reasons given by government for closing Nigeria’s border is to encourage local production of goods and services.
While some Small and Medium Enterprises operators and the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME) welcome the idea, some SMEs think the closure of the borders will hinder the growth of their businesses. The closure of Nigeria’s border with some African countries to goods is negatively affecting some SMEs, they said.
Mr Kalu Peter, who has a store in Utako market, Abuja, and has been into second-hand (OK) shoes and handbags business for over 20 years, said the border closure has affected him so much, that he is thinking of closing shop.
“I don’t have any other business except this one. The closure of the border is affecting me badly.
Since August, I have over eight bags of shoes that I paid for that I have not been able to bring in from Togo. I bought goods worth millions of naira because I usually supply schools shoes whenever they resume. “When I got to the border I found that it was closed. The schools I supply shoes are calling for the shoes and the land borders are closed,” he explained. Stories of businessmen who are into the frozen foods business are not different.
The CEO of Pyhoat Frozen Foods, Mrs Foluke Oni, said though the policy will be good for the country in the long run, government should have warned of the closure of the borders earlier. “Sincerely, the policy of closing the borders is good because it will give us an opportunity to grow our own products and that will be good for our economy.
But we would have preferred a warning or sensitization to stock-up before the policy was effected. If you go to our Nigeria farms for frozen foods, there are no products. Though we are relying on the local farms now but they can’t meet the demand we need for the large market,” she said. Mrs Oni wants government to empower Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with funds to scale up their businesses. “Nigerians are ready to work.
So government and banks should give interest-free loans so people can get into doing some business. Even at your backyard, you can start something like fish farm/poultry,” she suggested. Patrick Nwankwo of Blessed IK D Fishing Company said the closure of the borders is greatly affecting everybody doing frozen foods business because Nigerian farms are not capable of supplying the market.
“The Nigerian farms do not have enough to sell to us. You will pay for a full trailer load, that is 3000 bags of frozen local chicken to these local farms but you will get only 50 bags supplied which is not enough to meet the demand from customers.” Nwankwo said. He however added that what government is doing is the right thing as it will improve local production of chicken and fish.
National President of the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME) Sir Degun Agboade, said the closure of the border will help the sale of made in Nigeria goods. “We in the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises support the closure of the borders because we want to test the waters with it. And you can see the results; the Customs revenue collection is growing.
“We are not saying; don’t bring in anything, but government is saying bring goods through the seaport where you can legitimately do business. What they are doing at the borders is smuggling. If anybody is saying government has not done well, he does not know what he is saying. “We the SMEs are the ones that wear the shoe, we know where it pinches.
See the price of rice before and see it now. It will give more money to our people and we will be able to produce what we eat and eat what we produce. “We will not die. If the Customs revenue is increasing and the local things we are producing are selling well, then what do we want?” Agboade said.