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AfCFTA: Nigeria’s Economy Fragile, Not Competitive, Says NECA

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  • AfCFTA: Nigeria’s Economy Fragile, Not Competitive, Says NECA

The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association said on Wednesday that Nigeria took great risks by signing the controversial African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement.

The Director-General, NECA, Mr Timothy Olawale, said this on Wednesday while fielding questions from the State House correspondents after the leadership of the association had met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

This came on the heels of the association’s 62nd Annual General Meeting held in Lagos on Tuesday, where it lamented that some government agencies were frustrating the ease of doing business in Nigeria through what it termed their contradictory regulations.

President Muhammadu Buhari had signed the AfCFTA agreement in Niamey, Niger Republic, on July 7, 2019, making Nigeria the 53rd country to do so.

Incidentally, NECA was one of the associations the Federal Government consulted before it arrived at the decision that Nigeria should join AfCFTA.

But, the group warned that one major negative implication was that AfCFTA would turn Nigeria into a dumping ground for all manner of goods.

It also observed that the Nigerian economy, lacking in key infrastructure, was too fragile to withstand competition from other countries, while it also kicked against the plan by the Federal Government to raise Value Added Tax.

Olawale noted that the economy was already weighed down by multiple taxation and could not absorb more taxes.

Speaking specifically on the implications of joining the AfCFTA, he said, “The African Continental Free Trade Area agreement is laudable. There are lots of benefits inherent in it. We also know that it is capable of engendering capital in flow into the country.

“However, before we start talking about benefits derivable from it, we must also talk of the likely damage it can do to an economy that is fragile like ours, which behoves on us as stakeholders and government to put all hands on deck to address those issues.

“Those issues border on those variables that will ensure the competitiveness of Nigerian businesses and industry. We don’t want a situation where our business are not competitive due to the disadvantaged environment they operate. Of course, we are all familiar with the disadvantaged environment with regards to issue of infrastructure, among which is power and the issue of road network – that is, transportation for goods and services and accessibility to the different business environments.

“What we are saying is that if all these issues are not addressed properly, to make our business competitive, definitely we are going to be at the receiving end, to the extent that our nation will become a dumping ground. Some of the factories that are even struggling presently may end up folding up.

“Of course, we know the history of the textile sector and that can be repeated in any other sector and we don’t want us to get to that extent. That is why we are saying government should put mechanisms in place to address these issues, so that we can be competitive and take our rightful place by maximising the benefits of the AfCFTA.

On taxation, Olawale insisted that the association would not support any increase in taxes, adding that NECA told Buhari its stance at the meeting.

He added, “Basically, what we told the President is what we have repeated over and over again in the public domain; that there is no basis for increase in taxation. As it is, organised business concerns are already being overburdened with all sorts of taxes and levies.

“As a matter of fact, we have calculated 105 different taxes and levies we are paying as we speak, which are cumbersome and burdensome. So, we had advised that rather than resort to any form of increase in taxation, what government should be looking at is putting mechanisms in place to widen the tax net in such a way that almost 65 per cent of non-compliant tax payers are captured in the tax net. That way, more revenue will accrue into the coffers of the government.

“We specifically also voiced our concern with the suggestion and proposal out there that Value Added Tax should be increased. We have advised government that if it comes to be, it will reduce the purchasing power of Nigerian workers as well as the poor masses that the President is working hard to improve their lot.”

Reading NECA’s address at the AGM, its second Vice-President, Mauricio Alarcon, noted that President Buhari’s administration set up the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council to make the country a progressively easier place to start and grow business, but noted that three years after its formation, it had failed in its mandate.

He said while it was striving to make Nigeria a progressively easier place to start and grow business, activities of some regulatory agencies were in sharp contrast to the ease of doing business mantra of the government.

He said, “Three years into PEBEC’s existence, it is arguable if it is achieving its mandate. As businesses, we identify with PEBEC and the revolutionary assignment that was bestowed on it. However, we are concerned with the contradictions between the mandate of PEBEC and the actions of some regulatory agencies of the same government.

“While PEBEC is striving to make Nigeria a progressively easier place to do and grow business, activities of some regulatory agencies are a sharp contrast to the ease of doing business mantra of the government.”

However, Buhari assured the group that his administration would implement more policies to improve on the ease of doing business in the country.

“We also implemented various policies and programmes to support job creation in agriculture, mining and other key sectors. We also invested in infrastructure projects especially, transportation and power sectors.

“Nigeria is a blessed country with abundant resources. We have all it takes locally to meet our most basic needs. Our history of unnecessary importation of the most basic items meant we were exporting jobs to other countries at the expense of our own citizens”, he stated.

The President informed the group that his administration was working on bringing back all lost jobs to the country.

“This administration is determined and taking steps to bring these jobs back to Nigeria. Our policies are simply designed for that,” he added.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Nigeria’s Economic Performance is Weighing Down Continent’s Average

In 2019, Africa’s GDP was $2,6 trillion, but new research from McKinsey estimates that this could have been closer to $3 trillion if the continent had managed to continue to grow at the pace it achieved from 2000 to 2010.

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In 2019, Africa’s GDP was $2,6 trillion, but new research from McKinsey estimates that this could have been closer to $3 trillion if the continent had managed to continue to grow at the pace it achieved from 2000 to 2010. Fully 65 percent of this difference can be explained by a drop off in growth in Africa’s “big three” economies, Egypt, South Africa, and Nigeria, with Nigeria having the largest impact.

The research, published today in a flagship report: Reimagining economic growth in Africa: Turning diversity into opportunity takes a granular look at Africa’s economic performance across countries, sectors, and companies, to highlight successes, identify obstacles to growth, and suggest ways the continent can harness its diversity to reignite growth after a decade of slowdown.

Nigeria is one of 13 African countries that the research classifies as “recent slowdowns”, economies that outperformed the continent’s average economic growth in the first decade of the millennium, but have since slowed between 2010-2019.

The slowing pace of economic growth in these 13 countries—representing 37 percent of Africa’s population and around 46 percent of its GDP in 2019—was driven by slower than average growth in exports and investment per capita compared to the rest of Africa, even though they had the highest levels of urbanization. These economies account for over half of the continent’s exports of primary commodities. Between 2010 and 2019, growth in these countries did not keep pace with population growth—in aggregate, 27 million more people in this cluster lived in poverty at the end of the period—and per capita consumption growth was stagnant at 0.8 percent a year on average.

However, the slow growth in these countries is not representative of the entire continent.

The report stresses Africa’s diversity and points out that nearly half its people live in countries where economies have grown consistently over the past 20 years. Economic growth in these primarily midsized economies in East and West Africa has averaged more than 4 percent annual GDP growth.

“In a stark illustration that there is no ‘one Africa’, decelerating growth among recent slowdown and slow grower economies combined to slow the continent’s growth. Nigeria had the largest impact. Its services sector alone was responsible for 30 percent of the continent’s slowing economic pace.” – Mayowa Kuyoro, partner in McKinsey’s Lagos office and co-author of the report.

Reaping the productivity dividend

As the fastest urbanizing continent on Earth, and home to a young and fast-growing workforce and growing consumer class, the report argues that, despite its disappointing performance over the past decade, Africa is an exciting new market that is ripe for prosperity.

One of the key trends driving this optimism is the fact that the African economy has been undergoing a profound structural shift to services over the past 20 years, as people left work in the fields to take jobs in trade and other services in cities. Employment in services increased from 30 percent to 39 percent over that period and the sector is set to absorb almost half of all new labor-market entrants by 2030, although in 2019, half the African workforce remained in agriculture.

But while services create significant opportunities for African countries to boost economic output and job creation, this can only be realized if productivity in the sector improves. In 2019, African services productivity was the lowest of any region in the world and the sector recorded negative productivity growth of -0.1 percent during the 2010-2019 decade. This is, in part, due to a skewed shift to certain subsectors, notably trade, that has low productivity by global standards due to high levels of informality and fragmentation. In contrast, financial and business services are highly productive and contribute the greatest economic value, accounting for nearly a fifth of Africa’s GVA today.

Targeted interventions to raise productivity across services include increasing digitization, developing skills, and exporting talent. The research found that if Africa matched the productivity growth of Asia’s strongest services hubs, it could add $1.4 trillion to the continent’s economy, almost doubling of the GVA from services today. This would create 225 million jobs by 2030—a crucial consideration in the light of Africa’s rapidly growing workforce.

Additional opportunities for productivity-led growth identified in the report lie in increasing domestic and export manufacturing to meet burgeoning local demand, increasing regional connectedness, investing to enhance resource productivity and to tap into new opportunities notably to support the global transition to net zero, and spurring the agricultural transition. Agricultural provides almost half of Africa’s employment and is crucial to the continent’s food security, so improving its productivity is important to lives and livelihoods, especially in light of rising threats from climate change and rapid urbanization.

“Productivity must be established as the foundation of economic growth and resilience on the continent. Africa can no longer rely on growth determined by the vicissitudes of the global demand for commodities and export markets. Its complex, multifaceted diversity and thriving demographics are assets that can be developed and fostered to support a productivity-led economy.” – Mayowa Kuyoro, partner in McKinsey’s Lagos office and co-author of the report.

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Promoting Sustainable Nigerian Leather Products in the Global Market

The term “globalization” gained popularity in the early 1990s; with technology advancement, it has continued to shape modern everyday life, making it a global village whilst growing interdependence of the world’s economies, cultures, and populations. Countries have built economic partnerships to facilitate continued surge in cross-border trade in goods and services, technology, and flows of investment, people, and information.

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The term “globalization” gained popularity in the early 1990s; with technology advancement, it has continued to shape modern everyday life, making it a global village whilst growing interdependence of the world’s economies, cultures, and populations. Countries have built economic partnerships to facilitate continued surge in cross-border trade in goods and services, technology, and flows of investment, people, and information.

With a long history of producing high-quality leather products, Nigeria has a rich heritage of leather production and to build a sustainable ‘Made-in-Nigeria’ brand, it is essential to promote Nigerian leather products in the global market.

Globalisation has made the global market indeed a global village through technology. To aid balance of trade, countries must ensure it manufactures for local consumption then produces with a mindset of exporting to foreign countries. To achieve this, its products must first meet global standards and receive acceptance from its local market. Nigeria is in a vantage point to promote African leather products in the global market, being one of the continent’s biggest producers and exporters of raw leather materials.

With advanced technology from developed economies to reduce cost of production, coupled with their capacity to export, local consumers in developing economies have easy access to imported products which has adverse effects on the local economy, such as unemployment and a decrease in demand for locally produced goods. As the world continues to evolve, it is important to strike a balance between importing goods and supporting local businesses to improve GDP and improved economy.

The benefits of manufacturing goods locally in a nation instead of importing should not be overlooked. It has a long-term value on a country’s economy than the latter as any developing country seeking to achieve economic growth should endeavour to reduce importation to the barest minimum and utilize local resources, even if not having the required production capacity for export purposes.  In the case where a country starts focusing on manufacturing its products locally, there will be an increase in the employment rate, the currency would be valuable and local culture would be strengthened. In Nigeria for instance, those products that are manufactured locally are referred to as “Made-in-Nigeria goods”.

The manufacturing sector in Nigeria has several sub-sectors such as Petroleum and coal products, electrical equipment, appliances and components, printing and related support activities, textile apparel, leather and footwear, fabricated metal products, chemical and pharmaceutical products, food, beverage and tobacco products, paper products, furniture and related products, plastics and rubber products, and transportation equipment, among others continue to play a significant role in generating employment, increasing productivity, and driving economic growth for the nation. The sector has also contributed to the country’s quest to move away from oil dependency and lean towards the green economy.

One of the sub-sectors that has proven resourceful in contributing to the Made-in-Nigeria project and zero oil initiative is the Leather industry. With the total trade of the leather products presently between $300 and $400 billion globally, experts believe that Nigeria could account for 15 to 20 per cent to hit $20 billion by 2025. According to recent statistics, the Nigerian leather industry is estimated to be worth over $1 billion and is expected to grow annually by 2.88% (Compound Annual Growth Range 2023-2028). As the third largest in Africa, after South Africa and Ethiopia, the Nigerian leather industry is also a vital source of employment and income for many Nigerians, especially those in rural areas. The industry provides employment to over 750,000 people, with a significant number of jobs in tanning, leather goods production, most especially the fashion industry.

Leather has continued to remain a versatile and essential material in the fashion industry, offering durability, luxury, and timeless style for both men and women. Due to its durability and luxurious appeal, it is widely used in various forms of fashionable items such as shoes, bags, jackets, belts, and other accessories.

In contributing to the growth of a sustainable Made-In-Nigeria products, for six years now, a game changer in the leather industry, Lagos Leather Fair, has consistently given leather designers the platform to showcase their expertise. Established and emerging designers now have the opportunity to showcase their designs and gain recognition in the Nigeria and Africa leather industry. The annual fair provides a much-needed and solution-based networking platform for leather designers and other players in Nigeria and other African countries to promote and showcase Made-in-Africa and local talent.

According to the founder of Lagos Leather Fair, Femi Olayebi, “The annual celebration of the Lagos Leather Fair is a proof point of our unflinching commitment towards finding sustainable solutions to scale the African leather industry and ensure that the Made-in-Nigeria Project and Zero-Oil Initiative becomes a reality. For over five years, we have created an enabling environment for key players to maximise the potential of the leather industry. We are delighted about LLF2023 and look forward to the significant impact it will make in Nigeria and across Africa.”

This year’s edition themed “Staying Ahead: Creativity, Collaboration, Commitment” is set to improve the narrative that encourages sustainable Made in Nigeria business. Through the proposed LLF Lab and Accelerator programme, leather designers will have access to mentorship and development programs from entrepreneurs who are already experts in the industry.

LLF 2023 will also feature a series of local and international speakers who will share insights on relevant conversations that affect the African leather industry and a well-curated series of workshops for up-and-coming designers willing to thrive as a manufacturer in Nigeria. The workshops for budding leather designers will feature branding workshops where the fundamentals of branding will be explored, a shoe-making workshop to provide a basic understanding of the techniques of shoemaking and a social media/marketing presentation using a case study review of different brands.

The Lagos Leather Fair is set to hold on the 17th and the 18th, June at the Balmoral Convention Centre, Victoria Island, and just like the 5 editions done in the past, LLF 2023 is anticipated to continue from the previous years by strengthening the narrative that ensures the Made-in-Nigeria Project and Zero-Oil Initiative become a reality and fostering the nation’s talent and economic growth.

 

 

 

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Economy

Nigeria and Indonesia Boost Trade Balance by 80.77% in 2022, Unveiling New Economic Opportunities

The figures show an impressive increase of 80.77%, with the trade balance soaring from $2.6 billion in the prior year to a substantial $4.7 billion in 2022.

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The Nigerian-Indonesia Chamber of Commerce and Industry has announced a remarkable surge in the trade balance between Nigeria and Indonesia. The figures show an impressive increase of 80.77%, with the trade balance soaring from $2.6 billion in the prior year to a substantial $4.7 billion in 2022.

This revelation was made by Ishmael Balogun, President of the chamber, during the prestigious 2023 Equipment and Manufacturing West Africa Exhibition, held under the theme “Reigniting Manufacturing to Drive Economic Growth and Development” in Lagos.

During the event, industry experts unanimously underscored the pivotal role of technology adoption, human capacity building, and collaboration in revitalizing the manufacturing sector to foster economic growth and development in Nigeria.

In his address, Balogun shed light on the significance of bilateral trade and investment, technological advancements, and global engagement. He emphasized that embracing technology and forging international partnerships would enable businesses to venture into uncharted territories and unlock mutually beneficial opportunities.

Balogun stated, “It is with great pleasure that I inform you about the tremendous growth in the trade balance between Nigeria and Indonesia, which has surged from $2.6 billion in 2021 to $4.7 billion in 2022. Our objective is to continually explore new horizons and expand our outreach further.”

Tumi Adeyemi, Founder and CEO of ZenoLynk Technologies Limited, expressed his views on the matter, emphasizing the critical role of a robust manufacturing base in ensuring self-sufficiency, reducing import dependency, and stimulating exports, thereby bolstering the country’s trade balance.

He highlighted the persistent challenges faced by Nigeria’s manufacturing industry, including inadequate infrastructure, unreliable power supply, limited access to finance, bureaucratic bottlenecks, and inconsistent policies.

According to Adeyemi, leveraging technology is essential to overcoming these obstacles and unlocking growth opportunities for the Nigerian manufacturing sector.

He also pointed out the tremendous potential of the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement, describing it as a golden opportunity for Nigeria’s manufacturing industry. By capitalizing on this vast market of 1.3 billion people and eliminating trade barriers, Nigerian manufacturers can expand their reach, tap into new markets, and boost export-oriented production.

To position Nigeria’s manufacturing sector as a regional powerhouse, Adeyemi called for strategic planning, increased competitiveness, and product diversification. By embracing these measures, the industry can harness its full potential and establish a thriving manufacturing sector that maximizes value addition and reduces dependence on imports.

Abubakar Aliu, the former Director of Industry Trade and Investment, stressed the transformative impact of the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement on promoting industrialization in Africa. He highlighted the immense opportunities it presents for expanding manufacturing capabilities and driving economic growth across the continent.

With the exponential growth in the trade balance between Nigeria and Indonesia, coupled with the commitment of industry experts and stakeholders to embrace technology, enhance competitiveness, and foster collaboration, the future of Nigeria’s manufacturing sector appears brighter than ever. By harnessing the power of technology and strategic planning, Nigeria can position itself as a force to be reckoned with in the global manufacturing landscape, while also contributing significantly to Africa’s industrialization agenda.

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