The Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Dr Okechukwu Enelamah on Saturday May 12, 2018 addressed the RCCG Region 19 Men’s Conference, themed: The Nigeria Dream Beyond Oil, during which he explained that the thrust of this government’s program is to create the right enabling environment, rebuild market confidence and Address huge infrastructure gap and lower cost of doing business in the country.
The highly attended event had notable speakers in attendance to discuss the way forward for the country’s economy beyond oil. Speakers and topics at the conference include; Mr Opeyemi Agbaje, CEO, Resource and Trust Company (RTC) Advisory Services Ltd, spoke on My Lagos, My Land- the opportunities that are available to individuals and organizations in the state; Mr Tonye Cole, ED. & Co-Founder, Sahara Group, spoke on the future of Energy (Renewable & Non Renewable); Professor Babafunso Sonaiya of department of Animal Science, Obafemi Awolowo University spoke on, Identifying and Harnessing Opportunities in Agro Business; Mr Dipo Davies spoke on Current trends in real estate; Executive Director, (Technical), Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), Mr Jide Arowosafe, spoke on Agric Incentives Risk sharing and Mr Kayode Pitan, MD, Bank of Industry spoke on Financing your Business Dreams.
The Minister highlighted some optimism for the economy going forward, according to him, “Initial results are promising: Nigeria is emerging out of recession with attractive projected growth, projected 2.5% growth in GDP for 2018 financial year; Oil production has increased recently, with fewer incidents; International reserves are recovering, 56% increase between December 2016 and 2018, from 25 billion USD to 39 billion USD; and doing business is getting easier, especially enforcing contracts and issuing construction permit, Ease of Doing Business Ranking move from 169 – 145 between 2017 and 2018.”
He noted government efforts in “Establish valuable trade agreements and facilitate integration into the regional and global value chains; Mechanism and Bills to address dumping in the Nigerian Economy; Implement incentives and sector specific interventions to attract investment”
Addressing the issues of Enabling Environment and ease of Doing Business, he enumerated efforts to include “Launched web-based feedback mechanism to enhance the delivery of reform initiatives- PEBEC.REPORT, Institutionalizing business reforms working with the National Assembly, target passing for H1 – 2018; Translating the national business reforms to the sub-nationals- release of the subnational results slated for June 2018, Implementation of the single window platform for the ports to commence; Airport Concessions and establish valuable trade agreements and facilitate integration into the regional and global value chains.”
He also added that government is working on initiatives that will generate robust opportunities, ”deliver model Special Economic Zones SEZs to enhance manufacturing competitiveness, that include Private State-led SEZs, Lekki Free Trade Zone (LFTZ); Government SEZs – Calabar Free Trade Zone (CFTZ) and Kano Free Trade Zone (KFTZ); Greenfield SEZs – Enyimba City, Ibom Industrial City” he said.
Speaking earlier on the idea behind the conference, the PIC RCCG Region 19, Pastor Brown Oyitso, explained that our over dependence on oil as our main export has cost our nation dearly.
“A fall in oil prices which resulted from supply glut in 2015 to 2017 has meant low oil sector growth and lower investments in the sector, leading to lower revenues for the Federal Government and fewer funds to deliver the dividends of democracy to the people. The slow pace at which the Petroleum Industry Bill is being revived has not helped matters.”
He noted that “The non-oil sector has been struggling to take over the driving seat of the growth of the Nigerian economy in recent years to no avail.”
“With an unemployment rate as high as 18.8%, the Nigerian leadership, both at the Government and at the corporate sectors, need to do something creatively different and quickly too to avert a disaster in the macro and micro economic sectors of the economy” He said.
Pastor Oyitso concluded that we need to look beyond oil and stop our dependence on producing hydrocarbons, if we must make any firm and consistent progress. “if Nigeria is to look beyond oil, we need to deliberately do some things differently, these include; Increased Focus on Agriculture and Local Manufacturing, Fiscal Diversification, Ease of doing Business and Developing a Knowledge Based Economy” He Said.
On the way forward for Nigeria, the RCCG Region 19 Men’s Coordinator, Pastor Amos Emovon, noted that to ensure we actualize the collective dream of a new Nigeria that is not dependent on oil, “we must as a matter of urgency: Evolve a Human Centered economy that is innovation, digital and technology based like the United Arab Emirates, China and India – Integrating and incorporating compulsory Information Communication Technology programmes in all course of studies starting from primary school.”
“Unleash the power of our large population and endowed human resources to create Africa’s largest technology, innovation and outsourcing hubs with deep skills, specialties and low labour cost to serve the advanced and developed economies; Articulate a Regional development agenda focused on creating Regional Centres of Excellence (CoEs) and Competitiveness by leveraging a value chain based approach (from inputs to market) in the exploration of dominant natural resources and agriculture products to enhance the economic prosperity of the citizens; Embark on massive infrastructure regeneration in Transportation, Energy and Information Communication Technology sectors to support the recent Ease of Doing Business framework and create an enabling environment for Commerce and Industries to thrive nationwide – with robust linkages between the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and large manufacturing companies.