A group of entrepreneurs in the North-East region has alleged that it’s members are not being carried along as Nigeria implements her climate change and sustainable development-related plans.
At the North-East Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) Business Roundtable held in Gombe, Gombe State, from October 5 to 6, 2020, some members of National Association of Small Scale Industries (NASSI) expressed concern over the fact that they are not properly captured in the scheme of things in the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change. They demanded more engagement and involvement.
While also seeking awareness and information, the NASSI, who’s membership runs into millions, expressed concern about the impact of Covid-19 on members’ businesses and alleged lack of government interventions to support their recovery.
The group lamented that members, like the welders and fabricators, received no palliatives.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Covid-19 interventions should not be considered as loans, as current banks interests rate ranges between 5-9% with 3% going to the CBN, which is ridiculous, as the CBN is not supposed to be profit making entity. Interventions should be grants, not loans,” declared participants.
They submitted that a major challenge for the region is the issue of insecurity and its attendant socio-economic consequences on businesses and livelihood related issues.
While lamenting that supposed interventions from the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing system for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) have not provided the kind of assistance expected by small scale industrialists, participants stressed that government’s foreign exchange policies and the practical experiences of businesses are at variance, thus posing risks to businesses.
It was also identified that foreign exchange risks represent an obstacle to small businesses and makes it difficult to factor in climate concerns coupled with negative impact on dividends.
Participants underlined the need for a robust communication tool designed to address all local interest groups in languages that they understand and enable them to participate.
It was thus agreed that participants would be invited to participate in the validation of the Draft NDC Communication Strategy to make suggestions on the mode of communicating the NDC messages to their respective memberships.
The Roundtable along with presentations therein was described as being commendable as an avenue to promote government policies and encourage interactions with relevant stakeholders.
Participants, however, want the Roundtable:
- To be conducted for more than two days and integrate capacity building sessions on project design and proposal writing, among other items.
- Participation broadened to include all members of the affiliations and not only their executive, as it is small for awareness creation.
- Should promote diversification of the economy, investing in people and building a competitive economy.
Other key messages from the gathering include:
- Private sector players need to be guided on where to invest in a sustainable manner and advocate that the Department of Climate Change (DCC) in the Federal Ministry of Environment undertakes matchmaking with potential investors.
- Quarry Rehabilitation Case Study was shared by Asaka Cement-Lafarge with a model that can be replicated. Asaka wass invited to next Roundtable for the North-West to share stories on experiences and lesson learnt.
- A North-East Council for Chambers of Commerce has been established and will invite the NDC Programme to communicate to the larger Council when it meets next.
- Concerns on how the North-East can benefit from the numerous climate financing windows and the carbon finance from the existing projects within the zone. Participants were encouraged to engage the DCC bilaterally for more information.
- Costs of business in the North-East is high and need for special interests and attention, in addition to the North East Development Commission.
- Costs of translating the communicating materials are high.
- There was suggestion that, going forward, organisers should develop questionnaire on climate actions and seek participants understanding and opinions ahead of such interactions.
- It was agreed that participants develop interesting low-emission Concept Notes/Project Information Notes focusing on any of the NDC sectors and share with DCC for possible matchmaking with funders/investors.
The forum was a continuation of the Regional Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) Business Roundtables designed to sensitise and increase private sector participation. Promoted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) NDC Support Programme in collaboration with the DCC, it was the fourth in the series.