By Goodluck Jonathan
This year, 2014, is of special significance to us as a nation because it marks 100 years of our Nationhood. As we go forward into the next 100 years, it is clear to us as an Administration that the measure of a great nation, cannot be detached from the dependability of its economy. And a great economy must be based on a solid Industrial sector, with well diversified lines and sources of revenue, and a vibrant Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector, to create jobs and provide linkages.
The Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) and the National Enterprise Development Programme (NEDEP) will help to fast-track the attainment of these goals. They are targeted at transforming Nigerian businesses and changing the lives of ordinary people. They will accelerate inclusive growth and job creation and stem the drain on our reserves caused by importing what we can produce ourselves.
NIRP and NEDEP will also give fresh impetus to our Agenda for National Transformation Agenda by ushering in a new era of value addition, enterprise development and industrialisation.
I sincerely believe that the Nigerian economy must be developed into one of the most important elements of our national strength and a major assurance of the future of our people. That is why we have been resolute in executing Nigeria’s agenda for economic reform.
Our track record in this regard is strong. Every year, since coming into office, we have consolidated Nigeria’s fiscal position by reducing government overheads. We have launched the boldest transformation of the agricultural sector and we are well on the way to increasing Nigeria’s food production by 20 million tons per annum.
Among other significant achievements, w e have fundamentally re-organized the power sector for improved performance by privatizing 11 distribution and four generating companies and bringing in private sector capital and expertise. We have upgraded facilities within the Nigerian aviation sector to standards never seen before in this country and we have restarted rail services that had been dormant for over 20 years. Our road networks have also received unprecedented attention and improvements in the last three years.
It is our expectation that the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan and the National Enterprise Development Programme will be major additions to these landmark achievements.
The NIRP which is the most ambitious industrialization programme ever pursued by our Nation will accelerate growth in those industries where Nigeria has comparative and competitive advantages such as the processing of food and agricultural products, Metals and solid minerals processing, Oil and gas related industries, and Construction, light manufacturing and services.
These subsectors were prioritised because they will also generate jobs and tap into existing markets and demand in Nigeria. In each of these sectors, we could become number one in Africa, and in the top 10 globally, because of our competitive advantage.
The Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan will also address age-old constraints that have persistently limited manufacturing. It will build-up industrial infrastructure, prioritize power for industrial use, reduce borrowing costs and mobilize funding for the real sector. It will also facilitate youth training in industrial skills, improve our investment climate, raise our product standards, link innovation to industry, and promote local patronage of ‘made in Nigeria goods.’
The goal of the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan is to increase the contribution of the manufacturing sector to GDP from the present 4%, to more than 10% over a five-year period. This will boost the annual revenue earned by Nigerian manufacturers by up to Five Trillion Naira per annum.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, turning now to the National Enterprise Development Programme, I cannot overemphasize the importance of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises to National development. All over the world, Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are the primary drivers of employment. With the effective implementation of NEDEP, Nigeria will fully tap their immense potentials as the bedrock for industrialization and inclusive economic growth.
A survey conducted in 2010 by SMEDAN and the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics showed that we have 17 million Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), employing over 32 million people. If each Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprise in Nigeria employs just one additional person, we would create 17 million extra jobs, and unemployment in Nigeria would be drastically reduced. That survey was conducted three years ago. Today, we have more Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises in Nigeria, with the potential for even greater impact.
NEDEP has placed Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises at the centre of our National Economic Policy. Our vision is to take this new model for national enterprise development to all the 774 local governments in our country.
The Programme will fully unlock the potentials of Nigeria’s Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises sector by resolving many of the problems that most small businesses face such as – access to finance, access to markets, weak business development, dearth of technical skills, lack of infrastructure, and insufficient market information.
Under NEDEP, enterprise zones will be created in every State of the Federation, equipped with essential infrastructure for small businesses to thrive and transform Nigeria through employment generation, economic linkages, and rural industrialization.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, the integrated approach being pursued under the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan and the National Enterprise Development Programme which allows for better coordination, synergy, effectiveness and more efficient utilisation of resources, will positively transform the Nigerian economy.
We have made very notable progress towards our objective since we started implementing the two programmes 12 months ago. Through the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan,we have significantly cut the costs of business incorporation in Nigeria. We have mobilized new investments in the Sugar sector exceeding 3 billion US dollars.
In just 4 months, our landmark Auto Industry Development Program has attracted over six international car manufacturers, including Nissan and Hyundai. We have also consolidated gains in the cement sector, which has attracted US$ 8 billion in investments and is supporting 1.6 million jobs. In 2013, Nigeria became a net exporter of cement for the first time in our history.
Looking ahead, we envision greater collaboration between the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) and relevant Ministries to promote and facilitate renaissance and growth in other sectors such as textiles and garments, leather, palm oil processing, cocoa processing, basic steel works, chemicals, petrochemicals, fertilizers, light manufacturing and many more.
Our achievements in the National Enterprise Development Programme have been just as impressive. The programme has taken the Federal government’s support for MSMEs into every corner of Nigeria. In just five months, we decentralised the activities of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) and established its presence in all 36 States of Nigeria.
We have identified and are also vigorously supporting at least one product in all 774 local governments in Nigeria based on each local government’s area of competitive advantage. To help tens of thousands of small businesses have better access to finance and capacity support, we have formed over 10,000 MSME cooperatives and registered them with the Corporate Affairs Commission.
We have refocused attention on micro enterprises. Over the last 12 months, the Bank of Industry has disbursed 10 billion naira to the smallest and most fragile businesses at the bottom of the pyramid.
As we look ahead to the future, sustainability and effectiveness are core principles that will guide our actions. We will not only sustain the momentum of both the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan and the National Enterprise Development Programme, we will also expand their impact and reach.
To ensure the attainment of this goal, I will soon inaugurate the National Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprise Council, which will be chaired by the Vice President. Furthermore, the Nigeria Industrial Revolution PlanPresidential Advisory group, which will meet with me periodically, will also be established. Both bodies will constitute part of the institutional framework to monitor and provide guidance for the implementation of these programmes.
In closing, let me emphasize that legacies define all historical epochs. At this stage of the Nigerian journey, we must strive to build legacies that will outlive us. All great countries are built on sustained improvements from one generation to the next and I assure you all that this administration will leave worthy legacies for future generations of Nigerians.
We will leave this country stronger, and better than we met it. With the diligent implementation of revolutionary programmes like the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan and the National Enterprise Development Programme, we can truly make Nigeria the giant of Africa.
* Excerpts from an address delivered by President Goodluck Jonathan at the inauguration of the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP).