With the understanding that no nation has ever stumbled into greatness, without crafting a realistic vision, the recent launch of Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP), along with the National Enterprise Development Programme (NEDEP) by President Goodluck Jonathan is a great leap that should be commended, and supported by stakeholders.
Visions, plans and programmes are indeed not novel in Nigeria. But the NIRP crafted by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investments stands out in remarkable ways. It is a plan that recognizes Nigeria’s comparative advantage in industrial capacity and takes proper cognizance of limitations and threats, rather than a mere visionary expression as found in previous documents. It is time specific, with relevant deadlines and set roles for participating/collaborating institutions. And “for the first time in Nigeria’s history, (NIRP) links our trade policy, with our investment and industrial policies”.
With a huge market comprising over 160 million people, manufactured products constituting up to 54% of Nigeria’s imports, and exports of manufactured products being only 3% of total exports, there is no doubt that Nigeria has a latent capacity to be a strong industrial country. Whatever problems the manufacturing sector is going through currently seem to largely stem from the fact that enough thought and will have not being committed to rescuing the sector from its doldrums.
The NIRP is a 5 year plan. The objective of this Plan is to increase the manufacturing sector’s contribution to GDP from the current poor 4% to 6% in 2015, and up to 10% in 2017. The plan will deliver up to 5 trillion naira revenues for the manufacturing industry annually.
While identifying industry groups where the country has comparative advantage – Agro Allied and Agro Processing; Metals and Solid Mineral Processing; Oil and Gas related industries; Construction, and Light Manufacturing, the NIRP addresses pertinent issues that have been a clog in the wheel for industrial success such as high cost of funding, availability of relevant skills, infrastructure and power, harsh investment climate and products standards.
No industrial development or expansion in the magnitude that is expected through the NIRP can occur without a plan to grow and strengthen entrepreneurship. Thus it is not surprising that the NEDEP was launched alongside the NIRP. Available records show that there are over 17 million micro, small and medium enterprises in Nigeria contributing approximately 47% to the country’s GDP. These enterprises employ over 32 million people, thus employing 75% per cent of employed Nigerians.
NEDEP is a strategic plan that is designed to create up to 3.5 million direct and indirect jobs in a period of three years. The Plan comprises initiatives that will tackle the major challenges the MSMEs face like: costly credit, difficult access to regional and global markets, dearth of required skills, poor infrastructure and high cost of doing business. It is remarkable that this enterprise development plan, for the first time recognizes the need for relevant agencies to collaborate towards strengthening enterprises, rather than the divergent approaches and activities of the past.
While we commend Olusegun Aganga, minister of industry, trade and investment for his remarkable leadership and visionary capacity shown through the delivery of these two fundamental development plans, and the entire inter-ministerial teams that collaborated, we are very much anxious over the actual implementation of the plans and want to see these plans pursued holistically with appropriate zeal and will.
The launch of the NIRP and NEDEP should not go the way of other plans in the country, and they should not be used solely for the sake of securing political capital in a season when gerrymandering is the game.