After decades of foot-dragging, conjecture and indecision, Nigeria yesterday began a policy frontal push for industrialisation with the launch in Abuja of a framework called “Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP), that sets out the country’s comprehensive masterplan for industrialisation.
At a packed State House banquet hall ceremony, President Goodluck Jonathan also launched a National Enterprise Development Programme (NEDEP) describing the NIRP as: “Our flagship programme to industrialise Nigeria,” and the NEDEP as designed “to deliver growth to small and medium enterprises.” He said the industrialisation plan was the most ambitious the country was embarking on in decades and would address age-old constraints that have plagued industries.
“ It has identified those sectors where Nigeria can be number one in Africa and top 10 globally,” he added.
Jonathan further said that the NIRP would prioritise power for industrial use, reduce borrowing cost and mobilise funds for the real sector. It will help to build our industrial skills, improve our investment climate, raise our product standards, link innovation to industry and ensure local patronage of made in Nigeria goods”.
He said, “ It will fast-track industrialisation, accelerate inclusive economic growth, job creation, transform Nigeria’s business environment and stop the drain on our foreign reserves caused by importing what we can produce in locally”.
The unfolding of the industrialisation plan is seen as long overdue, with Nigeria’s biggest industrialist and Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, president of Dangote Group; Kola Jamodu, president of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN); Garba Ibrahim, president of the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME) providing endorsements for the plan in their goodwill messages.
Nigeria, Africa’s current second biggest economy after South Africa, has witnessed consistent growth since 2000. An ongoing GDP rebasing exercise projects that the Nigerian economy would overtake that of South Africa when the results are released this year. But manufacturing has seen years of downturn, contributing only an average of 4% to GDP as a result of lack of a well articulated industrialisation plan.
But the President said yesterday that the new plan will help to increase the contribution of manufacturing to GDP, with a projection of 10% in the next five years and revenue contributions of N5 trillion.
Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga, spoke of decades of stifled growth in industry, a sector with the potential to create jobs in larger numbers for the economy. “Nigeria must diversify , produce what we consume as a country,” he said, adding that the industrialisation plan has a strong focus on sectors where Nigeria has competitive and comparative advantage.
“We must produce what we produce. The days of exporting raw materials, the days of exporting jobs to other markets must come to an end,” Aganga said, noting this was at the heart of the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan.
He described the plan as “integrated”, one that is tied to other development plans that had earlier been announced by the present administration.