By Adedapo Adesanya
African Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesina said low levels of the industrial manufacturing sector hamper economic growth and development in Nigeria and many other African countries.
He also said Nigeria needs to accelerate its manufacturing sector through integration and rapid progression in global and regional value chains where it has a comparative advantage.
Mr. Adesina made this known at a conference entitled Overcome the binding constraints of competitive manufacturing for intra-regional trade, which he delivered at the inaugural edition of the Adeola Odutola lecture series on Tuesday in Abuja hosted by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN).
He said: “The continent has abundant natural resources, oil, gas, minerals, metals, agricultural and forestry products and the blue economy. But tragically and ironically, Africa’s enormous natural resources have not translated into wealth.
“The low level of industrial manufacturing is at the heart of the slow structural transformation of African economies,” and has represented a race to the bottom characterized by increasing poverty, the export of jobs, volatility in commodity prices and the dependence on imports.
Mr Adesina then recommended several policies, including the creation of industrial digital skills academies to retrain and retool workers for the jobs of the future. He said deepening domestic capital markets would allow companies to access the equity finance they need to grow their businesses.
He asserted that there should also be massive investments in gas, hydroelectric resources and large-scale solar power systems to ensure a stable baseline power supply for the industry.
He then called on the Nigerian government to actively tackle infrastructure bottlenecks, which he said hamper the manufacturing sector.
He also noted the existence of potentially catalytic external factors such as the African Continental Free Trade Area, which he said represents a huge opportunity for Nigeria to drive an export-oriented industrial manufacturing path.
Speaking on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari, Secretary of the Federation Government (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, hailed the conference, calling it “scholarly and stimulating”, and said the government would certainly look into solutions. proposed.
“The challenge that Dr Adesina gave us today regarding building an efficient and productive manufacturing sector is a challenge that we must take seriously in formulating policies that will lead to accelerated growth and diversification of our business. economy, ”said Mustapha.
For his part, MAN Chairman Mansur Ahmed congratulated Mr. Adesina, both for his work as the former Nigerian Minister of Agriculture and for his current role as head of the bank.
To date, the AfDB has provided $ 1.73 billion in low interest credit lines to Nigerian financial institutions. In the energy sector, it provided $ 200 million for the Nigeria Electrification Project, which aims to fill the country’s access gaps.
The bank invested an additional $ 210 million in the Nigeria Transmission project to strengthen grid electricity evacuation and regional interconnection. In addition, the AfDB’s Small and Medium Enterprise Finance Facility supports small and medium enterprises in Nigeria.