By Kasim Sumaina
A new report by the Overseas Development Institutes (ODI), has found that share of manufacturing in Gross domestic product (GDP) in Nigeria at 10%, is below the average of sub-sahara Africa. The report also revealed that investment rates at 15% of GDP are well below any reasonable comparators.
The report stressed that the business -as-usual attitude of government and private individuals will not Safeguard productive jobs for the future and will not in addition reduce poverty significantly, adding that efforts to achieve economic transformation in Nigeria require a completely different approach.
In a paper presentation, titled: ‘Supporting Economic Transformation in Nigeria’, held in Abuja on Tuesday, the report found that the promotion of quality growth, economic transformation, enabling business environment and trust, remains the crucial vehicle in tackling the recurrent unemployment and economic woes of the country.
According to one of the Director/Authors, SET (ODI), Dirk Willem teVelde, while presenting the report, the current economic conditions force, said Nigeria needs to double its efforts at economic transformation.
“Business as usual is not going to generate the large increase in productive employment that the country needs.”
The analysis, drawing from the works of economic experts including David Booth, Danny Leipziger and EbereUneze indicates that when compared with other countries experience, successful transformation has been supported by a co -ordinated push through a central agency or ministry pursuing a path of change based on competitiveness and openness.
Willem said: “Nigeria has the opportunity to show it is serious about economic transformation and promote a number of carefully selected projects which will demonstrate that progress in export -oriented transformation can be made, contributing to a shared vision of change.”
“The new government plans could deliver change if they are designed and implemented with a new orientation in mind. But, Weak oil prices and low economic growth have made economic development in Nigeria the key priority area for national policy, only a significant shift from focusing on the domestic economy alone and better coordination of national development towards nation-building around competitiveness and openness has any chance of realising this opportunity, says the report.
In her earlier remarks, Minister of State, Trade and Investment, Mrs. Aisha Abubakar said, the economic growth rate and ultimate development of nations are determined by a number of factors that range from sound policies, effective and efficient public and private investments and strong institutions.
According to her, “One key variable that determines how fast a nation outgrows each other is the speed of accumulation of human capital, especially through sound formal and informal science and technology education.”
She explained that the present Change government of President Muhammadu Buhari, has since its inception provided additional interventions to support specific private sectors. Adding that the non-oil sector and youth entrepreneurship amongst others has been a point of interest and that the President has remained focused on the diversification of the economy despite the myriad of problems in the process.
“In the 60s, the GDP per capita of the following countries were not starkly different from that of Nigeria. South Korea and Brazil were below $200, with Singapore and Malaysia a little above $300 and Chile slightly above $500 while Nigeria was just about $100. By 2011, the per capita range of all five grew exponentially but Nigeria was left behind by each one of these countries.
How did these nations achieve such outstanding economic performance over the last five decades? Singapore is what it is today due to the extraordinary altruistic efforts, sacrifices and hard choices of its founding father, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. “What is important is not the extent to which the country lags behind but the potential the country has to catch up.”
She said: “I have read the report we are launching today, and I find it most assuring that this administration is thinking along the same lines and today provides a great opportunity for me to share some of the reforms our government has already embarked upon to diversify the economy, create jobs and prosperity and ultimately economic transformation.”
She added: “Our current state of affairs, provide the opportunity for us to restructure and realise our developmental objectives and goals to deliver on the change we are yearning for as a government and as a people. This has become intentional as programmes supplies are being carried out. Growth in the GDP alone is enough to transform our economy but, this must be accompanied by employment generation and increasing the economic well-being for our people.
“Unlocking Nigeria’s investment and economic potentials will require the strategic collaboration of both the public and private sectors to achieve the desired accelerated development. Economic development expansion and economic transformation succeed when all leaders building blocks comes together.
“This must be combined with skill innovative and creating human capital, entrepreneurship, visions and resilience. Complementing with committed leadership in providing employment and reduces poverty. Economic development not only raises incomes, but it is also encourages citizens to join in the political discourse.”
Speaking also, the Executive Director/CEO, Nigeria Export Promotion Council, Mr. Segun Awolowo, while reacting to the report, said: “I declared earlier this year that Nigeria does not have an oil price problem, Nigeria has an “export inertia” problem.
He added: “The rebasing of our GDP in 2013 exposed the fact that Nigeria’s economy is actually diversified. However, the empowerment of economic activities across various sectors does not translate to economic empowerment for Nigerians and wealth for the nation. The missing link is targeted productivity towards exports of non-oil products both tangible and intangible.
“The launch of this document comes at an appropriate time as desirable contributions to the discussion on Nigeria’s Economic Diversification,” he said.