By Prince Okafor
Sound policies across businesses and citizenry has been identified as key components to boost Nigeria’s economic growth.
This was the submission of the former Vice President, World bank’s Africa Region, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili at the just concluded ‘Caladium Lagos SME Boot Camp’ in Lagos.
Ezekwesili noted that the average growth in the last eight years has been between 2.8 percent, which is a low mark in terms of growth as a country.
In her words: “We must kick start economic growth in Nigeria, and the way to do so is to improve sound policies, sound physical policies combined to giving us back our micro economic stability.
“There is a serious need for reformation in other to enable those sectors function and create the impetus for economic activities.
“Whether you are talking of human development sector, health, education, economic, aviation, tourism, agriculture, structural reforms are needed for growth.
“You need to have friendly environment in terms of regulations because for businesses to be productive, your policies must be friendly.”
She added that as long as there is low supply of foreign exchange into the economy on the bases of what we earn, the exchange rate will continue to depreciate increasingly.
“Nigeria principally sell Crude oil and the oil we are selling to the world is not at the scale we use to sell because the average export levels has reduced significantly due to the Organization of Oil Exporting Countries, OPEC, quota system.
“Crude oil is Nigeria’s dominant source of foreign exchange, and we are not attracting sufficient levels of foreign direct investments in terms of capital inflows.”
On the solutions, Ezekwesili stated that Nigeria needs to unlock opportunities for citizens to have much more that they can sell to the rest of the world to earn foreign exchange.
“We need to pay attention to the talents of our citizens. We have those in the creative industry, all those sectors can unlock a lot for us as a country. We just need the supply of foreign exchange into the country.
“Once that happens, our exchange will be more stable, friendly and kind towards businesses and further multiply the expansion of the GDP”. She added.
On his part, the Caladium Lagos SME Boot Camp coordinator, Ayo Bankole-Akintujoye, noted that the initiative was set up as part of effort to support SMEs in the country scale up, and more importantly acquire more business skills that will make them more sustainable.
“Most of them only have the technical skills be it fashion designing, technology, manufacturing. At some point, it becomes difficult because they do not know how to manage their plan.
“They do not understand how to manage people, finance, and so on. This birthed boot camp.
“Asides that we infused micro grants whereby we fund them through Feragap a technology platform which we use to finance their transactions with large enterprises because the demand of those large transactions can be so high from a capital stand point.
“We have recorded tremendous successes, having over 5000 active communities of SMEs. Also, seeing some of our SMEs who were unregistered, unstructured to become structured and become recognized brands,” he added.