…Abuja Chamber urges diversification as route to reclaim top spot
19 August 2016, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Federal Government has said the economic programmes and policies it is putting in place will ensure that Nigeria reclaims its top rating as the biggest economy in Africa.
The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Mr. Udoma Udo Udoma, who stated this on Thursday in Abuja when a delegation of the Nigeria Infrastructure Summit Group led by A.B. Mahmud paid him a courtesy visit, said the recent ranking of Nigeria’s economy as second place to South Africa’s simply suggests that the country’s economy can bounce back through hard work.
Udoma maintained that the rating is not a final position but an impetus for all Nigerians to strive hard to rebuild the nation’s once vibrant economy, saying that efforts are on to remove all forms of bottlenecks that impede free easy investments, especially by foreigners.
“No need to panic over recent rating that Nigeria is no longer biggest economy in terms of GDP in Africa. What this simply means is that we have work to do to make our economy bounce back.
This should motivate us to work harder to be the biggest economy again. I believe we have what it takes, in terms of resources, capacity, enterprise among other things to become number one again,” he said.
According to him, Nigeria targets about 3 trillion dollars in direct foreign investment this year, adding that such level of foreign investment will boost the economy as well as create jobs.
While calling on Nigerians, especially the private sector to increase level of participation in the economy, Udoma restated the Federal government’s commitment to rebuilding the nation’s economy especially through active partnership with the private sector players.
Earlier, leader of the Nigeria Infrastructure Summit Group, A.B. Mahmud said they were in the ministry to show solidarity with government’s plans to revamp the economy, even as they expressed gladness that earlier recommendations made by the summit are currently being implemented.
He said however that government needs to review coordination and deployment of resources to support high priority Public Private Partnership projects, as well as monitoring of deployment of funds from grants among others.
In a similar vein, the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has urged the Federal Government to diversify the nation’s economy, to reclaim Nigeria’s position as Africa’s biggest economy.
ACCI President, Mr. Tony Ejinkeonye, gave the advice while reacting to the report that rated South Africa as the continent’s biggest economy by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
IMF used the Gross Domestic Product in its 2015 report published by the Bloomberg to rate the South African economy.
The report stated that the size of South Africa’s economy was 301 billion dollars at the rand’s current exchange rate, while Nigeria’s GDP was at 296 billion dollars.
Bloomberg noted that the rand gained more than 16 percent against the U.S. currency since the start of 2016, while Nigeria’s naira, in contrast, had lost more than a third of its value since the CBN adopted the flexible exchange rate regime.
Ejinkeonye urged the government to be more aggressive with diversification of the economy.
“We know that the Nigerian government is already taking steps to kick-start economic growth in the long run.
“But there is need to be more aggressive with diversification of the economy with consistent progressive and timely policies.
“Government must encourage policies that will attract foreign investment inflow while giving priority to policies that will reduce the pressure on demand for foreign exchange,’’ Ejinkeonye said.
According to the ACCI boss, the root of Nigeria’s predicament is basically the crash in oil prices on the international market for a country that is oil-dependent.
Ejinkeonye said the persistent scarcity of foreign exchange had forced some businesses to go under, resulting in job losses while the country’s depleted foreign reserves could not provide a cushion for the current crisis.