• Saturday, June 22, 2024
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SMEs need access to market not government protection – Expert


The path to economic growth in Nigeria lies in adapting successful models from within the Africa continent and elsewhere in the world, said Melissa Cook, founder and managing director of African Sunrise Partners LLC in Lagos recently.

 Melissa Cook who also serves on the United States’ President’s Advisory Board Council on Doing Business in Africa, was speaking at the CFA Society Nigeria event with the theme “Economic Diversification and complexity for sustained growth in Nigeria”.

Starting from an African perspective, Cook noted that for prosperity to happen in the continent, it is not enough to have GDP growth. “Hard infrastructure and human capital,” she said, need to be put in place.

 The bane of development in many countries in Africa, Cook said, can be traced to complacency with possessing abundant natural resources. Countries like Nigeria must realise that in today’s global economy, “time is of the essence. They need to look closely at success stories as models,” she said.

 Companies like Nokia and countries like China, Indonesia, Kenya, Finland and so on, represent viable examples for Nigeria to learn from to grow the economy. Abundant resources are not prosperity neither is exporting raw materials and importing finished goods, she said. These are “loosing” strategies.

China as an example took a deliberate approach to industrialisation: massive infrastructures build and planned urbanisation. Nigeria should have a long-term goal approach to economic growth; leveraging the strength and capacity of the private sector both local and foreign.

Cook stated that foreign investors are crucial to economic growth as “foreign firms help through technology and skills transfer.” Again, Nigeria must of necessity diversify its export as a key driver growth.

She also emphasised that the role of the government should be to create the enabling environment for private investment. When it comes to investing in a country, investors do not make exceptions for Africa and Nigeria because “Numbers are numbers. Investors are in the business of putting money to work for them. Government and private businesses really have to work together,” said Cook.