Special Report

Embracing Digital Economy: Insights from the 4th Niger Delta MSME Summit/Bootcamp

The 4th Niger Delta MSME Summit/Bootcamp held on June 26 at the EUI Event Center in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, brought together industry experts, policymakers, and entrepreneurs to discuss the future of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the region. The event emphasized the importance of embracing the digital economy and the need for strategic support to sustain the growth of MSMEs.

Enthusiastic participants gather at the 4th Niger Delta MSME Summit/Bootcamp in Port Harcourt.

Keynote Speeches and Expert Opinions

Dr. Martins Fregene: Addressing Funding Challenges

Dr. Martins Fregene, Director of Agriculture at the African Development Bank (AfDB), highlighted the need for MSME owners to acquire skills in accessing funding and financial management. He pointed out that many lending banks are hesitant to provide loans due to unclear tax records and other uncertainties. “Some of these banks are willing to lend, but they are afraid that MSMEs may not pay back,” he stated, emphasizing the need for transparency and better financial practices among MSMEs.

Amb. Joe Keshi: The Role of Government

Amb. Joe Keshi, Director-General of the BRACD Commission, lamented the lack of government support for platforms like the Niger Delta MSME Summit. He stressed the importance of entrepreneurship, stating, “Sooner or later, government will not be employing people anymore. It is business that we will depend on.” His remarks underscored the urgent need for government involvement in fostering a culture of entrepreneurship.

Recommendations for MSME Growth

Otuya Okecha: Embracing Technology

In his goodwill message, Otuya Okecha, MD/CEO of Fibresol Nigeria Limited, urged state governments and intervention agencies to create tech hubs to address digital illiteracy among MSME owners. “Over 60% of the Niger Delta population are young people. State governments must embrace Digital Stack Models to gather data of citizens,” he said, advocating for the integration of technology to enhance business operations and efficiency.

Moses Siasia: Private Sector Initiatives

Moses Siasia, CEO of Mosilo Group and Chairman of Heritage Times HT, expressed disappointment over the lack of deliberate policies from state governments for MSME development. He highlighted the significant impact of private sector initiatives, saying, “This is a purely private-sector initiative. We have done this for the past four years, we have seen the impacts made, and we will continue.” He also commended organizations like the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Bank of Industry (BOI), and Century Group for their consistent support.

Achievements and Impact

Gerald So-George: Empowering Entrepreneurs

In his opening remarks, Gerald So-George, Coordinator of the Niger Delta Young Professionals (NDYP), noted that the initiative has empowered over 2,604 individuals through personal grants, the 2020 COVID-19 Fund, NCDMB loans, and the CBN Agric Loan Scheme. Approximately 1,820 businesses have benefited, creating about 8,319 direct and indirect jobs. “This underscores the significant impact of our collective efforts and the potential for even greater achievements,” he stated.

Summy Smart Francis: Adapting to Innovation

Summy Smart Francis, President of Africa’s Young Entrepreneurs (A.Y.E.), delivered an inspiring charge to young entrepreneurs, emphasizing the importance of adaptability. “Failure to adapt is failure to grow. We are in times of innovation and technology. While you are busy complaining that Nigeria is hard, do you know how many people are making money?” he challenged, encouraging participants to leverage innovation and technology for business growth.

Panel Discussions and Strategic Sessions

The summit featured strategic panel sessions where experts discussed the importance of partnerships in boosting agricultural growth and unlocking funding for MSMEs. The theme, “Building a Culture of Entrepreneurship and Self-reliance Beyond Oil,” resonated throughout the discussions, highlighting the need for diversification and sustainable development.


The 4th Niger Delta MSME Summit/Bootcamp successfully brought together over 1,000 participants from across the Niger Delta region, fostering dialogue and collaboration. The event underscored the critical role of digital economy adoption, government support, and private sector initiatives in driving the growth and sustainability of MSMEs. As the region looks towards a future of entrepreneurship and self-reliance, the insights and recommendations from this summit will be invaluable in shaping policies and strategies.

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