~US-based businessman, entrepreneur and the CEO of Megavox group. Chief Leo Chigbo Emesue (Ezu Abagana)
Foreign Exchange scarcity especially dollars is posing a big challenge for SMEs who rely on imported goods and raw materials to carry on with their businesses. Even with the high oil price, the Central Bank of Nigeria is no longer able to provide enough dollars to small and Medium Enterprises. The hardest hit is the small exporters mostly owned by Anambra indigenous and the Igbos.
What role, if any can Anambra state government play to curb this forex shortage?
Insecurity and poor infrastructure are the major causes of capital and human resources flight. The current situation of the country makes it very difficult to attract foreign investments. Our dear state and Nigeria at large have been under siege and a series of attacks from unknown criminal elements masquerading as freedom fighters. In addition to discouraging potential investors, insecurity has forced many employers and SMEs to lose business volume, cut down jobs, move out of the state or shut down entirely. Some individuals are afraid of going to work because of a lack of security. Some businessmen are moving their investments and businesses to neighbouring states.
Even if we manage to attract foreign investments under these unfavourable conditions, we still face challenges with the quality of the investment. Profit repatriation can cause capital flight and we end up losing instead of attracting forex.
We can improve our odds and attract forex by training and creating an enabling environment for digital jobs. We must train and retrain our youths in remote ICT jobs and digital jobs. One can reside in Anambra state, work remotely for an oversea company and get paid in foreign currencies like dollars and pounds. The state government can facilitate this, capture the foreign currencies, pay our citizens in Naira and make the foreign currencies available for SMEs.
To achieve this, public and private partnership is needed and government must play a major role in facilitating and training of our youths.
Government can also implement a digital passport as a form of identification and background check in other to re-assure the foreign companies of the identity of the pool of employable citizens. The training and the passport will provide our foreign partners with a qualified employee pool that can serve them professionally.
Anambra state government and her citizens can benefit in several ways from the above initiative: partner with indigenous tax-paying SMEs and sell forex to them, establish banks overseas to help SMEs move money around the globe, and provide digital passports for her citizens thereby a better image for citizens in the global market and generate revenue through taxation and forex trading. The time is now; time to digitalize, train youths, create jobs, generate revenue and grow the economy of our state.