By Peter Egwuatu
Stakeholders and financial experts in the country, yesterday, advocated the inclusion of informal sector and the diversification of the economy among others to boost Nigeria’s declining Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP.
The experts and stakeholders, who spoke at the 2nd Nigerian Stock Exchange, NSE, Bloomberg CEO Roundtable held in Lagos, also advised the federal government to quickly take action towards accessing funds that would enable it provide the needed infrastructure that would boost production, create employment and raise the GDP.
Commenting on the declining economy, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Airtel Nigeria, Mr. Segun Ogunsanya said: “Nigeria’s GDP has continued to decline because of the over dependence on oil, following the global decline in price . For the country to come out of the woods there is need to diversify the economy. But, first, government has to figure out short term solutions to address the funding needs, either to borrow, sell assets or swap. The telecom sector is a vibrant sector that need not to be ignored.
“There is need to digitalise the economy as broad band challenges need to be addressed. Internet and Broadband have been globally acknowledged as the foundation for transformation to a knowledge-based economy. It is also widely acknowledged that broadband infrastructure is an enabler for economic and social growth in the digital economy. Broadband has the potential of enabling entire new industries and introducing significant efficiencies into education delivery, health care provision, energy , ensuring public safety, government/citizen interaction, and the overall organization and dissemination of knowledge.
“The telecom is a unique sector and should be treated as a manufacturing entity that contributes to the growth of the economy, if the right economic atmosphere and policies are put in place. The sector is also faced with the Foreign Exchange, forex problem. We do import equipment and other materials, such as switches for use. We are here to stay in this country for a long time. The issue of Airtel listing on the NSE is a discussion that is currently going on. It is a matter of time and also having good enabling environment we would be there.”
The Chief Executive Officer, Nestle Nigeria Plc, Mr. Dharnesh Gordhon said: “Nestle like other manufacturing companies in Nigeria is being faced with the issue of forex. The forex scarcity and the high cost of production are affecting our revenue and production.
“We don’t have problem regarding demand. Consumers need value of whatever goods they are consuming, so it is the value of products that the consumers are expecting to be high. In addition, power is critical. So, government must do everything within its reach to improve the power situation in the country. There have been a lot of policies in power and no improvement. For the past seven months, we have not seen gas supply and to that extent, we had to switch to diesel which is quite expensive when compared to gas.”
While commenting on the issue of foreign investors coming into the country, Mr. Mark Bohlund, Africa and Middle East Senior Economist Bloomberg Intelligent and Dr. Ogho Okiti, Economist and Policy Analyst were of the opinion that beyond devaluation of the naira which happened in June, 2016 foreign investors need to be assured of consistent government policies, security, adequate infrastructure like power, transport etc before investing in the country.
Okiti said: “Nigeria needs to have an inclusive growth. The informal sector needs to be harnessed brought to the f and captured in our GDP. The banking sector is faced with Non Performing Loans, NPL and most of the loan banks are having is in foreign currency. So, the CBN, banks and the federal government need to come together to work out solutions on how to address this issue. It should be taking as a national problem and should be addressed holistically.”