From Joe Effiong, Uyo
The Government of Akwa Ibom State has commenced the training of 3,000 youths in a scheme meant to identify, train, mentor, empower and build capacity of existing Medium and Small Enterprises, (SMEs) and startups across the 31 local councils of the state.
The scheme, known as “Ibom 3,000 Project”, and at its first phase is meant to improve the capacities of youths of the state in diverse vocational, technical, entreprenueral and managerial skills in oil and gas, agrobusiness, ICT and SMEs to enable them secure gainful employment.
At the launch of the Project Uyo on Monday, Governor Udom Emmanuel, who was represented by his Deputy, Mr Moses Ekpo, said that SMEs remained the backbone of economies as they generate local capital and high level of productivity resulting in economic growth and as such the scheme remained strategic in building capacities of youths in the state.
The governor said the state government would continue to use SMEs as key drivers of the state economy but would focus on creating and driving viable SMEs inorder to improve their contribution to the Gross Domestic Product of the state.
He explained that beneficiaries were identified and selected from across the three Senatorial Districts of the state and charged them to take advantage of the programme and rise to the height of their area of interest
The state Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Mr Ukpong Akpabio, said that the overall goal of the scheme was to train youths to be self-reliant and relevant in the emerging opportunities in the upcoming I am Deep Seaport, the Oil and Gas Free trade Zone and other industrialisation programmes of the state government.
‘Our assembling here is a call to duty and a sober reflection on the persistent demand placed on us by our people to pioneer and supervise events that will signal a new beginning of proper coordination and implementation of the vision of our governor to drive employment and investment in our society through Ibom 3,000 Project.
‘The immediate and long term outcome is to lay a solid foundation bfor the development of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises to compliment the efforts of the state industrialisation and its potentials for employment generation,’ Akpabio explained.
He commended the governor for his foresight and support for the programme, and thanked investors and partners who had continued to stand behind the scheme meant to secure a brighter future for youths of the state.
The commissioner stated futher that for the COVID-19 pandemic, the initial plan was to train 9,000 each year for three years even as the ministry was forced to reduce the number of beneficiaries to 3,000 each year inorder to accommodate COVID-19 protocols.
He said the state government would cater for the accomodation and feed the trainees during their 2-6 months duration of training while arrangements have been made for camps for the trainees depending on their area of need.
He appealed to the beneficiaries to be committed and dedicated to their training as this would build their confidence and resolve to be independent minded and diligent as ambassadors to keep the vision afloat, meet the objectives of the vision and the problem it would seem to address.