By Fiona Freddy

The United States of America is set to create four million jobs annually in Nigeria through African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) scheme, Fred Oladehinde a U.S. expert has said.

Oladehinde who is the President of the Foundation for Democracy in Africa, a Washington DC based NGO stated this in a chat with newsmen in Abuja.

The Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) expert said that the AGOA plan was to reduce unemployment through creation of 20 million jobs in Africa annually four million of which would be from Nigeria

He explained that the U.S. authority initiated AGOA scheme in May 2,000 through which over 6,500 products could access U.S. market duty-free till 2015.

He said that U.S. in its bid to boost Africa’s economies revalidated the scheme by 10 years, to elongate the flagship trade deal with the continent from 2015 till September 30, 2025.

He said that the new window had re-opened vista for Nigeria and other countries in the region to grow their present non-oil exports to the U.S.

Oladehinde said Nigeria should develop its Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) sector to explore the benefits of AGOA.

“We need to mobilise MSMEs so that we can improve and enhance not only the value chain from supply side but also include their participation in the global supply chain and create the badly needed jobs.

“As you know there is need for the creation of about 20 million jobs every year in Africa.

“And, if you look at the size of Nigeria and the population, it means almost four million of these jobs will have to be created in Nigeria every year,” he said.

The Nigerian-born American said he was in Nigeria to work with some civil society organisations and some of government agencies to utilise the benefits of AGOA to create jobs.

According to him there is need to leverage on the nation’s competitiveness through AGOA to create jobs at the state and the federal levels.

He said that the creation of 20 million jobs annually in Africa would keep the youths engaged and would make them to avoid illegal and painful migration that the continent witnessed in the last seven to 10 years.

Oladehinde said that there was the need for Nigeria to align its policy to its strategic partners especially its AGOA partner

He said that this would allow Nigeria to optimize the benefit of of the scheme.

According to him, “This is an access to one of the most lucrative markets in the world. In the U.S., you can bring in 6,500 products duty-free.

“The demand is huge. This is one market in the world that everybody craves for, everybody wants access to the U.S. market.

“And, if Nigeria is able to send its products to these markets, that would allow it to create jobs, grow its businesses, pay taxes and allow the airports to be very busy.

“It will allow the nation to reduce traditional costs in terms of cost to the citizens, and not only that, it would also intensify direct foreign investments from the U.S. into Nigeria.”

Describing the development as a win-win situation, Oladehinde said the cost benefit is very important, noting that every investment in MSMEs is like putting your money in a stock of company that will succeed.

He said that if Nigeria could key into the agenda as it ought to, it would have impact on its socio-economic development and fast track its agenda on industrialization.