‘$3 billion raised in three years to spur Nigeria’s industrial development’
The Bank of Industry (BoI) has stated that it has raised over $3 billion in the last three years to increase lending to Nigeria’s industrial sector.
Indeed, the Development Finance Institution (DFI) stated that the move was to bridge the huge financial gap that exists in Nigeria’s industrial sector.
The Managing Director, Bank of Industry (BOI), Oluwakayode Pitan, at the 37th Omolayole Management Lecture series themed “African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)- Prospects for African Youth Leadership” organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), also said the Bank’s disbursement to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and large enterprises have hit over a trillion naira in six years.
According to the Managing Director, the feat was achievable through strong strategic partnerships with various institutions in the State, federal government agencies and private sector organisations.
He added that there is a growing number of start-up businesses in Africa at present, as young people are embracing their entrepreneurial mind-set and technological skills, resulting in the rapid digital transformation of the continent.
He advised that to address this risk and realise the gains expected from a free trade area, there is a need for increased infrastructure investment in Nigeria, saying that one way to achieve this is through public-private partnerships (PPPs) which should be significantly leveraged towards building sustainable infrastructural facilities across the country, while the Government provides an enabling governance framework.
“The newly established Infrastructure Company (InfraCo) will play a lead role in its implementation,” he added.
He added that despite making up a significant percentage of the continent’s population, the participation of young people in cross-border trade and trade governance matters is still very limited.
He said improving transparency and ease of doing business in Nigeria has a larger implication now that the AfCFTA has taken off, saying that this would enable foreign investors to make informed decisions on where to site their manufacturing hubs within African nations that will provide them with more benefits.
“Because there are no restrictions on moving goods across borders, the need to establish a business in a country where it is easier to operate will now be a more desirable factor than the existence of market prospects,” he said.
Earlier, the president, LCCI, Toki Mabogunje, expressed concerns over the high level of youth unemployment pegged at over 33 per cent as of Q4 2020
She stated the urgent need for programmes and projects that engage the nation’s youth to unleash their latent potential for the benefit of the country.
She added that the AfCFTA provides an opportunity for our young entrepreneurs and startups to explore a continent-wide market if well launched, structured and implemented.
She stated that the agreement became operational on January 1, 2021, and marks the biggest free trade area globally in terms of the number of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organisation in 1995.
She added that while the take-off of AfCFTA should be lauded, much work remains to be done as critical parts of the agreement are yet to be finalised, stressing that several key issues including schedules of tariff concessions, schedules of service commitment, rules of origin, investment, competition policy and intellectual property rights have not been concluded.
The LCCI boss said AfCFTA has the potential to accelerate socioeconomic development of the African continent, saying that if well implemented, it would stimulate economic growth, generate job opportunities, and help to facilitate the economic diversification of African economies while ensuring people, products and services move freely across the continent.
Dr. Michael Omolayole in his lecture said the provisions of the treaty setting up AfCFTA are likely to propel African countries from the third world to the first world.
“Believe me, I am not exaggerating. On our part as Nigerians, I think we were over-cautious and were reluctant to ratify the treaty until the last moment. We could have avoided the hesitation if we had set up a think-tank of brilliant and knowledgeable Nigerians in the matter of economics and free trade, right from the beginning of the African Union (AU) deliberating on the matter,” he said.