• Sunday, May 19, 2024
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BusinessDay

Dialogue on Nigeria’s Competitiveness

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This morning, Professor Michael Porter of the Harvard University will speak in a meeting that will have in attendance key government officials at both the federal and state levels, on the place of Nigeria in global economic competitiveness. This meeting which is intended to be a dialogue session is coming at a time when nations are increasingly competing in terms of economic growth and productivity.

The last two decades have shown that developing economies can quickly converge with developed countries only on the basis of faster economic progress. It has also been demonstrated that this faster economic progress is based on collaborations and cooperation between government at different levels and businesses. Many national governments have led the way in their countries in the last two decades, and the results in the economies of those that are successful are there for everyone to see.
The experiences in China, Russia, Brazil, and India have shown that the process of national competitiveness cannot be left to chance. While it does not mean that government controls the economy in all its ramifications, it does mean that national competitiveness is a deliberate choice today of mobilizing human, capital and entrepreneurial resources for wealth creation. Such a choice has to be repeated, monitored and corrected based on experiences and dynamics of the global economy.
Increasing national competitiveness has shown in China and India that the level of poverty can be considerably reduced in a generation when there is faster rate of economic growth. Thus, it has become very clear in many countries that the first goal of national competitiveness is a faster rate of growth as it means increasing ability to increase the level of output in the economy on a yearly basis. This can only be done when the economy’s firms and businesses are powered by excellent processes, underlined by competitiveness.

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Here in Nigeria, our economic goal is not different from that of many developing countries. It is to put in place an economic process that generates faster growth than we currently do so that a significant number of Nigerians that are currently poor can escape poverty. The economic process that is competitive in Nigeria must not only deliver faster economic growth but also deliver faster openings of opportunities, especially jobs for the great number of our youths. The process must ensure that our businesses and firms are not only industry champions in the Africa region but also global leaders in their industry.
To achieve this, there is a role for everyone. The government must realize it must take the lead in providing the environment that will give the best chance of this happening. The government must provide the economic leadership required for this to happen by improving on the quality of government expenditure as this can improve the value of its expenditure, thereby minimizing waste and corruption. The government must also provide the physical environment needed for the reduction in the costs of production and doing business in Nigeria through the provision of needed infrastructure. The government must also lead by facilitating research and development initiatives in different areas of our economy that will help companies emerge leaders in their industry. And the government must ensure high quality of products from our universities and other higher institutions.
The private sector will have to quickly realize that national competitiveness is based on the level of firm’s competitiveness in the economy. Strong corporate governance and financial discipline are required for the kind of progress we want to make in the economy. Private sector players must also realize that continued fragmentation of efforts and markets through bad succession planning and emphasis on individual ownerships and control rather than partnerships are counter productive.