The Organised Private Sector (OPS) has stressed the need for government to articulate an economic framework that would focus on reviving the ailing manufacturing sector and boosting industrialisation to stem recurring companies’ collapses and job losses in Nigeria.
The stakeholders, who gathered at the 20th yearly stockbrokers’ conference in Lagos at the weekend, submitted that Nigeria would continue to lose competitive edge, with many businesses relocating to neighbouring countries if government failed to pay more attention to the sector.
Specifically, an economist, Biodun Adedipe, argued that all developed and emerging economies have used industrialisation as the key driver of modernisation.
Adedipe maintained that industry creates the platform that attracts capital and technology to any economy, noting that no country has ever become rich by exporting raw materials without also having an industrial sector, and in modern terms, an advanced services sector.
“If production activities take place in Nigeria, the accompanying jobs would be created here. This is best driven by deliberate protection of local manufacturers.”
Speaking further on how to make the sector more attractive to create more wealth for the nation, he said: “Tax incentives, preferences in access to foreign exchange and other critical inputs, infrastructure support to industrial clusters. For instance, tariff barriers should be harmonised in such manner that makes it too expensive to import than buy locally made alternatives.
“In essence, the government, to provide leadership in this direction would do two things: provide an enabling environment for domestic production, right from building or encouraging to be built by the private sector world-class production infrastructure up to a tax system, incentive regime (e.g. that rewards linkages to cottage producers), financing scheme or other policy support.”
He added that strong manufacturing base would strengthen local trade and create more jobs while exports from Nigeria will grow in volume and value.
The Director General, Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Muda Yusuf, explained that government needed to revive the sector to achieve sustainable wealth creation.
He noted that in reviving the real sector to drive sustainable growth, provision of infrastructure is key, especially power.
“We must create access to market for finance. When we make investment decision, we must consider infrastructure and power. We need to start backward integration. We need to have competitive industrial sector.
“Again, what can drive sustainable industrialisation is to leverage our competitive advantage. We should also revive the institutions that have the responsibility of funding SMEs.”
He added that government should also consider reviving institutions that have the responsibility of funding SMEs.
The Chief Executive Officer of RTC Advisory Services, Opeyemi Agbaje, explained that one of the two biggest socio-economic challenges facing the nation is the issue of job creation.
He, however, argued that Nigeria cannot create jobs without having a strong manufacturing base and industrialised economy.
“One of the two biggest socio-economy problems is job creation because we need to create jobs, but we can’t if you do not create industries. Again, for us to be export competitive, we must have something we are producing to boost industrialisation. That is when we start talking about job creation.
“We must empower SMES. We must focus on agro manufacturing and processing as a huge enabler. We should concentrate on infant industries, making them competitive industries for export,” he added.