Group seeks framework for rapid economic growth, job creation
At post-COVID-19 pandemic, Nigeria’s unemployment and fragile economic growth problems would have worsened. It is, therefore, pertinent that the government develops a framework for achieving rapid economic growth and employment generation, latest sectoral impact assessment and optimal policy response by the Board of Directors, Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), has revealed.
In doing this, the Group urged government to prioritise sectors that have significant potential for growth; sectors that can meet the demand of consumers both at the local and export market, and have the capacity to absorb a significant number of the country’s labour force.
Such sectors include manufacturing, construction, professional, scientific and technical services, education, health and social services, and trade.
These sectors, according to NESG, collectively employ a total of 27.8 million individuals, which represents 36 per cent of individuals employed as at 2017. They also accounted for 35 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019, and had an average growth rate of 0.5 per cent in the last two years.
The sector’s poor contribution to the GDP growth as well as its significant contribution to employment suggests the existence of untapped opportunities for growth. Considering these, the government needs to address key challenges to growth and job creation of the selected sectors. More so, they can be used as a launch pad for economic recovery post-COVID-19.
Specifically, NESG recommended that government establishes production safety nets for agricultural sector, which may include the government sustaining the supply of seeds and planting materials to smallholders; animal feed to livestock breeders; and aquaculture inputs to fish farmers to keep up production.
Create special permits to transport drivers allowing distribution to remote areas and waivers for agro-food system operations to keep inputs flowing; collaborate with the private sector to set up agricultural settlements/clusters at locations very close to urban areas or markets.
For oil and gas sector, government should explore opportunities in the natural gas segment of the sector; Expand the refining capacity of the local industry and tap into huge refined petroleum products market in the ECOWAS region, and deregulate the downstream of the oil and gas sector.
For the manufacturing sector, NESG implored government to intensify the establishment and operations of product-specific industrial clusters. This will position the manufacturing sector to benefit from the growing local demand; provide markets linking infrastructural facilities; while encouraging public-private partnerships that lock-in clusters for continuous production and air-lifting of output for distribution.
For the transportation sector, the board urged government to revive rail transport for inter-state movement of goods and people; encourage the setting up of dry in-land terminals at locations close to land borders, sea or air ports; and regulate the number of passengers to maintain social distancing in accordance with WHO and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) guidelines.