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Adewale Adeyemo (Wally)

SMEs will sustain Nigeria’s economic growth – U.S. Treasury Deputy Secretary

By Busayo Onijala

Lagos, Sept. 18, 2023

While demographics and capital can fuel a Nigerian economic boom, small and medium sized enterprises will sustain its growth, says Wally Adeyemo, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Treasury.

Adeyemo, the highest-ranking member of African diaspora in the Biden administration, who is on a trip to Nigeria, said this on Monday during his visit to Lagos Business School.

He delivered an economic policy speech  titled  “U.S. – Nigeria Economic Relations: People, Entrepreneurship, and Investment.”

According to him, there are more than 40 million micro, small, and medium sized businesses in Nigeria, which employ more than 80 per cent of Nigerians.

These businesses, he said represent the beating heart of the Nigerian economy.

“In order for these businesses to thrive, they need government policy to go from being the problem to providing solutions.

“Nigerians are at the heart of the innovation that is blossoming all over Africa. From arts to technology, the economy is more diverse today than even a few years ago.”

Adeyemo said the Biden Administration recognised that Nigeria’s economic success was not only important to the approximately 200 million citizens but also to the region, the continent, and the global economy.

He said Nigeria’s economic and social impact could be felt well beyond her borders with a diaspora that had spread across the world, bringing with them the unbounded creativity and innovation found in every city and village.

The Deputy Secretary stressed that the United States stood ready and eager to partner with the Nigerian people and government on the quest to build a better future.

He said some of the steps needed for the type of growth that would create economic opportunity for Nigerians include stabilising the Naira, a fiscal strategy that would provide the resources to make critical investments, rooting out of corruption and protecting the integrity of Nigeria’s financial system.

On his part, unifying Nigeria’s foreign exchange rates would create the kind of macroeconomic stability essential to attracting foreign investment.

“We commend the difficult steps the Nigerian government has already taken to accomplish this goal. The path to unification is not easy, but going backwards would be even worse.

“The need for economic reform does not demand indifference to the pain caused by this transition.

“This is why partners like the World Bank and African Development Bank are committed to working with Nigeria to provide resources and advice to help smooth this transition for the Nigerian people.”

He noted that Nigeria was a hotbed for digital entrepreneurship and taking simple steps like moving government functions online, so Nigerians could apply for business licenses and visas using their smart phones and computers, would help improve services and reduce opportunities for fees to go into pockets rather than government coffers.

“This new government also has the ability to fight skepticism by making reforms that will allow the Nigerian people to better understand how federal, state, and local resources are being used.

“Our government stands ready to help work through these steps and challenges in financial institution supervision, implementing controls in high-risk sectors, and pursuing investigations and prosecutions,” Adewale said.

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