• Thursday, May 23, 2024
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When is Nigeria’s industrial revolution happening?

When is Nigeria’s industrial revolution happening?

The next global industrial revolution has begun. From renewable energy, clean technology, food security, and green manufacturing in essential sectors like medical, educational, and shelter,future-focused economies are investing in critical minerals and industries that will significantly contribute to the attainment of their macroeconomic objectives of productivity, economic dignity, job opportunities, high income, an improved standard of living for the people, enhanced economic growth, and ensuring balance of payment stability. As the Africa Industrialization Index 2022 indicates, from the Sustainable Development Goals to Agenda 2063 and the African Union’s 2011 Action Plan for the Accelerated Industrial Development of Africa, all policy directions clearly identify industrial development as “a foundation for inclusive growth, the creation of decent jobs, and many other development goals.”

One key condition to measure Nigeria’s industrialization is to determine our transformation away from an agricultural or resource-based economy towards an economy based on mass manufacturing and an enhanced service sector. Available data suggests that the contribution of manufacturing to Nigeria’s GDP has been on the decline for nearly four decades. Nigeria is said to be less industrialised today than we were 40 years ago. With oil and gas as the dominant source of our revenue and export earnings, we abandoned our national drive for industrialization, dating back to the 1960s under the first National Development Plan that embraced import-substituting industrialization, with the objective of mobilising national economic resources and deploying them on a cost-benefit basis among contending projects as a strategic attempt at industrial development. According to data from the National Bureau of Statistics, in 2018, manufacturing contributed 9.2 percent to GDP, 9.06 percent in 2019, 8.99 percent in 2020, 8.98 percent in 2021, 8.92 percent in 2022, and 8.23 percent in the fourth quarter of 2023.

To accelerate Nigeria’s industrialization strategy and unlock our economic potential beyond oil and gas, which account for over 90 percent of export earnings and about 65 percent of government revenue, Nigeria must go beyond talks and build an economy of improved commodities and an increased share of global manufacturing output. Notwithstanding the constitutional and structural contradictions in our federal framework, both the national and subnational governments must actively promote industrial development beyond just “putting in place” enabling environments and conditions for industrialization, including infrastructure, a favourable investment climate, security, and a skilled workforce—to creating a systematic approach to identify and nurture infant industries.

To nurture and support industries that focus on agro-allied, metals and solid minerals, oil and gas, construction, light manufacturing, and services, the 2014 Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan was designed as a policy framework for Nigeria to become a preferred source for supplying low- and medium-technology consumer and industrial goods domestically and locally, thereby creating wealth, jobs, and import substitution. Ten years after the policy was unveiled, the plan has not been implemented to achieve the target objectives. This is not far from the fact that we lack industrial revolution governance that can seriously define and give direction to Nigeria’s decade of industrialization.

Industrial revolution governance is required to put in place the essential elements for industrial transformation that will develop our manufacturing capability, improve economic management, promote macroeconomic stability, and make better use of state resources. It is purposeful governance that led to China’s industrialization success, which resulted in her overtaking the United States to become the world’s largest producer of manufactured goods in 2011, creating jobs for millions of Chinese, lifting 700 million people out of extreme poverty, creating wealth, improving living standards, and ensuring food security for all. How then can Nigeria fuel the fundamental factors for industrialization?

The first step in the right direction is to conquer procurement and contract corruption in the infrastructure development sector. Inadequate infrastructure is the most pressing constraint on Nigeria’s industrialization, and unless money allocated to building roads, power projects, water, and other enabling infrastructure for industrialization is properly utilised, Nigeria can hardly achieve its industrialization objectives. Contract and procurement fraud is estimated at approximately N2.9 trillion over the period of 2018 to 2020 alone, which accounts for 10 percent of the total budgetary allocations for that period—funds that could have provided critical infrastructure for many communities. Currently, half of Africans have no access to energy and 30 percent lack access to clean water—two essential inputs for agro-processing and most other industries. Nigeria needs adequate infrastructure and energy to power our industrialization. If we reduce corruption, then such industrialization-enabling legal and policy frameworks like the Electricity Act will be fully implemented to ensure that relevant stakeholders, including states, companies, and individuals, empowered by the Act to generate, transmit, and distribute electricity, do not only invest in power projects that will power our industrialization but must also ensure corporate governance that will sustain a healthy energy ecosystem, just as Geometric Power Company currently shows.

Another variable for Nigeria’s industrialization is quality education. Almost all industrialised countries were able to harness education, research, technology, and technical and vocational education as tools for growth. Britain prioritised new scientific inventions, developing the steam engine; Germany and Japan focused on solid engineering education and technological development; Singapore shows Asia’s greatest success stories in transforming from a developing country to a modern industrial economy in one generation, and this was due to her investment in education.

Talks on Made-in Nigeria will remain in the pipeline unless we get our political rights to be able to prompt consistent industrialization policies, provide good governance that will ensure macroeconomic stability, and make Nigeria’s desire to produce what she eats and eat what she produces a possibility. Nigeria has all the variables for industrialization; we only need leaders with clear vision to know that Nigeria’s greatness cannot be achieved with foreign aid but with our local productivity.

Ekpa, Stanley Ekpa a lawyer and leadership consultant wrote via [email protected]