As Nigeria joins the rest of Africa to celebrate the African Industralisation Day, some economists said embracing technology, promoting local content and industralisation can foster the growth of the country’s economy.
The economists spoke at the 2018 African Industralisation Day with theme “Promoting Regional Value Chains in Africa: A pathway for accelerating Africa’s structural transformation, industralisation and pharmaceutical production”.
The day was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1989 to enable African governments to examine ways to stimulate industralisation process and draw worldwide media attention to the problems of industralisation on the continent.
Mr Sani Dawop, President, International Institute for Training, Research and Economic Development (IITRED) said inclusive industralisation could take place in the country when local products were given priority.
“The government should insist that whatever is being used within the purview of government is locally made, when that is done, Ministries, Departments and Agencies will follow.
“In doing that, government should also ensure that procurement from MDAs is from local manufacturers because government is the highest spender. Except where we do not have local manufacturers on a product, then we can import.
“We should be able to bring our engineers together, support them with funds and encourage researchers to come up with innovations in different areas of development.
“When we have the resources, we put together these resources at highly tolerable interest rate where entrepreneurs, investors, manufacturers can access these fund because the cost of fund must be cheap,” Dawop said.
According to him, the economy depends on what the government buys, so if the government continues to buy imported goods then our economy will not grow.
He said although the Federal Government had, earlier in the year, signed Executive Orders to promote local content especially among MDAs, monitoring and evaluating those policies were needed to ensure implementation.
Dr Obadiah Mailafia, former Central Bank of Nigeria’s Deputy Governor, said “dependence on oil is no longer sustainable and we are now living in a post oil industrial economy.
“New technologies are taking over from oil, many developed economies have put a dateline to all manufactures of automobiles to move from petrol to electro cars.
“Nearly 70 per cent consumption of petrol is automobiles and that age has come to an end.
“We have to embrace industralisation, technology which is the only way we can absorb millions of young people that are unemployed,” he said.
According to him, oil accounts only for 10 per cent of national Gross Domestic Products but paradoxically accounts for over 90 per cent of our foreign earnings and over 50 per cent of government revenue.
He, however, observed that Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) that drive industralisation were gaining low support from the government.
Obadiah said business environment for SMEs were harsh, they didn’t have easy access to loans as well as internal challenges of lack of skills on the ease of doing business.
He called on the government to place premium on supporting the Micro Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSME) sector because it would foster development in the country.