By Chinwendu Obienyi
Nigeria’s economic potential is constrained by many structural issues, including inadequate infrastructure, unemployment, tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade, obstacles to investment, lack of confidence in currency valuation, and limited foreign exchange capacity.
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Hence, there is a need to look to digital technology, cheap labour, efficient economic planning, good governance among other solutions to ensure the economy is transformed.
This was the view of top economic experts, executives at the 2022 Vanguard Economic Discourse summit in Lagos on Tuesday.
Delivering a keynote speech on the theme of the summit tagged; “National Plans and National Performance: Gaps, Lessons, and Opportunities”, renowned economist and Chairman, Foundation for Economic Research and Training (FERT), Professor Akpan Ekpo, noted that all efforts to change the dire strait of Nigeria’s economy through policies and programmes have yielded marginal results because the country is yet to adopt efficient and long-term economic planning.
“Economic planning is a deliberate government attempt to coordinate economic decision making over the long-term and to influence, direct and in some cases control the level and growth of a nation’s main economic variables such as income, consumption, employment, investment, exports, imports, and population, among others. An economic plan may be either comprehensive or partial. When it is comprehensive, the targets are set to cover all major aspects of the national economy – industry, agriculture, the public sector, the foreign sector as well as sub-sectors.
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A prospective plan is a long-term (20-30 years or more) economic blueprint for an economy and unfortunately we have failed to have efficient planning”, Ekpo said.
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Speaking during the panel session, the Associate Dean, Lagos Business School (LBS), Professor Olayinka David-West, urged the Federal Government to look towards digital technology as it will drive the much needed transformation the country urgently needs.
According to her, recent events on social media have shown that technology has the capacity to transform the nation’s ailing economy if the right infrastructure is put in place.
“Technology brings about change and can help in the transformation of other sectors. We don’t need mere policy pronouncements, what we need is digital infrastructure to achieve a digital economy that works. We need digital infrastructures across the 774 local government areas of this country”, She said.
For his part, the Managing Director, Cowry Assets, Johnson Chukwu, disclosed that for Nigeria to become a manufacturing, cheap labour must be considered.
While noting that a manufacturing economy enables job creation, attracts investors in all sectors of the economy and citing China and other fast rising Asian economies, Chukwu added that the sector can fight the alarming unemployment rate in the country.