Archive | December 2014

Leadership: 2015 budget: Nigeria’s economy remains strong — Okogu

The Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation, Dr Bright Okogu, on Wednesday in Abuja said that the Nigerian economy was still strong in spite of global economic uncertainties.

Okogu made the statement while making a public presentation on the proposed budget for 2015.

He said that while monitoring the recent uncertainties in the global economy of the country, it was noted that certain sectors in the economy were still growing in spite of the recent oil price shock.

” Our economic indicators have shown that our domestic economy remains relatively strong.

“Growth continues to be driven by the non-oil sector, contributing about 68 per cent prior to re-basing and about 86 per cent thereafter.

“We still have greater room to borrow if we want to since statistics show that our debt to GDP has dropped from 19 per cent to 12.8 per cent.

” We will, however, maintain our prudent and conservative debt management policy,” he said.

Okogu said the Federal Government was doing all it could to ensure that ordinary Nigerians were protected from economic shocks.

“Our efforts can be seen that despite everything, food prices remain the same.

“Inflation has gone down. It was at 7.9 per cent at the end of November 2014, down from 12 per cent in December 2012.

Inflation has been at single digits since January 2013,” he said.

Okogu said that the Federal Government was making adjustments on its expenditure due to the recent development in the oil international market.

” Fiscally we are not sustainable unless we reduce the cost of governance. This is why we are proposing to reduce FG expenditure from N4.7 trillion to N4.3 trillion.

“We are pushing for more non-oil revenue drive, introduction of surcharge on luxury items such as private jets, luxury yachts, cars, champagne, wines, spirits among other things,” he said.

Okogu urged Nigerians not to panic in the face of declining international crude oil prices, which was critical to the nation’s economy, because there were safety nets in place against possible hardship.

He said that labour organisations, civil societies, the legislative, executive, and judicial arms would have to work together to achieve the goals of the 2015 budget. (NAN)

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BusinessDay: New trade policy will help diversify Nigeria’s economy

The Head, Trade Policy and Facilitation, German Development Cooperation (GIZ), Mr Alexander Werth, said on Thursday that Nigeria was on the verge of diversifying its economy with new trade policy.

Werth told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja that Nigeria would overcome dependency on oil to earn foreign exchange as it diversified into industry and agribusiness.

According to him, the new trade policy is trying to ensure that Nigeria moves away from oil to non-oil sectors.

“This dependency on oil revenue can be reduced by diversifying the Nigerian economy and I think this is what the trade policy is trying to do. To move away from oil to the non-oil sectors, to value added sectors, industry and agribusiness sector.

“You should not put your eggs in one basket.  If there are some negative impacts in one sector, you might be able to compensate this in another sector which might benefit now from a lower (devalued) naira,” he said.

Werth said the viability of other sector of the economy would help the country ward off the negative impact of oil sector.

He said that GIZ had been supporting the ministry of Industry Trade and Investment with a view to coming up with a modern trade policy and strategy for the country.

Werth said the policy must define the roles and responsibilities of the various agencies such as the Nigeria Customs Service, Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

He said further that GIZ had a programme called “Sustainable Economic Development in Nigeria (SEDIN)” through which it supports the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) in the country.

Werth said the programme would run till 2017 in the bid to strengthen the capacity of the MSMEs for competitiveness.

“We are also getting money from the European Union (EU) under the Strengthening Nigerian Trade Support Institutions (SNTSI) programme. That programme is mostly funded by EU and implemented by GIZ- SEDIN based on similar objective.

“What we are trying to do in the ministry of trade is that we are trying to build their capacity to be able to do better what they are supposed to do. This requires training of staff and also helping the ministry’s trade department to become more efficient in the coordination of stakeholders’ meetings,” he said.

According to Werth, “we also work with the Nigeria Customs Service and the organised Private sector including the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTs) among others.

He further explained that GIZ was simply ensuring that the organised private sector played an active role in policy processes and worked with business membership organisations such as MAN.

“If you are a registered Nigerian company, with your products, you would be allowed to trade them within ECOWAS region without having to pay customs duties. So, what we are trying to do is to increase the number of ETLS registered companies in Nigeria,” he said.

All Africa: Returnees Boost Nigerian Economy

Many members of the African Diaspora are now returning home, encouraged by a positive economic outlook in their home countries. One of these countries is Nigeria.

The economic slowdown in the Western world, coupled with the positive economic outlook in many African countries, is paving the way for Africa’s diasporic talent to return to their homelands.

Millions of people, many of them highly trained professionals, are known to have left Nigeria since the 1970s, after the civil war that erupted over the attempted secession of Biafra as an independent state.

Nigeria, which is Africa’s biggest economy, is one of the countries where the return migration trend is most visible. According to the latest Human Capital Report conducted by the World Economic Forum, Nigeria ranked 86 in 2013 for retaining educated and talented employees. This is an improvement on position 112 in 2008, the time when the Western world was hit by the financial crisis.

Many highly qualified young Africans are now returning home

Thanks to Nigeria’s economic performance in the last decade, the biggest city Lagos is now welcoming thousands of new, yet old residents. These days, shopping malls, parks and business centers of Lagos are buzzing with the voices of returnees.

Tolu Ogunlesi, a journalist from Lagos, believes that a growing middle class lifestyle in Nigeria makes it easier for the diasporic community to contemplate moving back.

“Lagos has now a lot to offer for the middle class people who are used to the lifestyle in the Western countries,” Ogunlesi said. “Improving democracy in the country in the last decade or so also gave hope to people that they can try again at home.”

A report entitled “Understanding Africa’s middle class,” published by the Standard Bank earlier this year revealed that Nigeria’s middle class jumped six-fold between 2000 and 2014. This means 23 million people in the country are now considered to be middle class, consuming from $23 (18.4 euros) to $115 a day. This number is predicted to rise to 40 million by 2030.

Nigeria’s returnee community has been growing so fast that Adabara Abdullahi, a London-educated banker, established “Move Back To Nigeria,” an online community for returnees.

“After 2008, there was simply a need for a platform that returnees can support each other, and bridge the gap between the diaspora and home,” Abdullahi told DW.

“At first glance it appears that most returnees come back for economic reasons,” Abdullahi said, but he believes the motivation of thousands of returnees runs deeper:

“In fact, the number one reason people return back to Nigeria is the sense of belonging and purpose. Most returnees feel that they can do better things in their societies. People who understand both Nigeria and other countries can make a big difference,” Abdullahi said.

Lagos is Nigeria’s biggest city and the destination for many returnees

Bringing young talent together

Many returnees do indeed come back with new solutions. After completing his studies at Harvard Business School, Tomiwa Igun and some friends established the organization “Young African MBAs” with the aim of closing the gap of management talent in Africa. Now boasting thousands of members, the organization fosters ties between the continent’s young talent and also assists its members in career transitioning to Africa.

“Coming back to live in Nigeria might bring challenges to returnees. Lack of predictability in daily life events such as traffic, bureaucracy, and power cuts might be difficult for many people,” Igun said. But he also believes these challenges stimulate people to find solutions. “People who live abroad for a long time are exposed to different ideas and different complex systems. Once they come back, they can look at their own countries with fresh eyes.”

An estimated 11 to 17 million Nigerians still live abroad. But the tide is turning and many seem undeterred by the violence shaking the country as the government struggles to contain the Boko Haram insurgency.

Author Didem Tali

The Guardian: EU to help reposition Nigeria’s economy by providing trade infrastructure

MR Juan Casla, the Head, Economic Governance and Trade Cooperation, European Union (EU) Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, said EU was willing to help review the Nigeria Trade Policy (NTP) and Strategy to reposition the economy.

Casla told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Wednesday that the new policy would focus on diversifying export, a more value added production and industrialised products in Nigeria.

“Nigeria cannot rely much longer on export of oil; so it should try to diversify export.

“The structure should also try to have a more added value added production and focus on industrialised products in Nigeria.

“And apart from that, it will involve getting Nigeria more involvement in the regional integration processes that is taking place in the ECOWAS.

“So these are the three important elements that are going to determine this trade policy we believe,” he said.

He said that the EU was aware of the country’s industrial revolution plan adding that important structures needed to be in place to enable the country to actualise the plan.

Casla said EU, in partnership with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), was improving the quality of infrastructure in the country.

According to him, the objective of this project is how we can improve the Nigerian infrastructure to improve the quality of its products, particularly industrial products.

“We are working on an important project with our partner UNIDO and the objective of this programme is to improve the Nigerian infrastructure to improve the quality of its products, particularly industrial products.

“There needs to be a strong standardisation agency and there needs to be good information about standards for private companies.

“There needs to be a good system of laboratories that provides quality testing of industrial products so that they can be available for domestic consumption and exports.

“There should be a good accreditation system by which the public authorities can identify that this laboratory is good and that its tests can be accepted by the market,” he said.

The EU representative said the organisation was also supporting the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment with technical assistance in many fronts in line with its cooperation programmes with Nigeria.

Casla said the EU was determined to get Nigeria involved more in regional economic integration processes that Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was currently carrying out.

According to Casla, ECOWAS is currently undergoing a very ambitious trade liberalisation process that involves elimination of customs barriers and harmonisation of standards.

He said that trade between Nigeria and regional countries would increase with the country’s focus on diversification of export products.(NAN)