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    Nigeria at 61: OPS Hails Telecom Reform as Most Successful, Says Manufacturing Still Nightmarish

    04 Oct 2021

    The members of the organised private sector of the Nigerian economy have identified the reforming of the telecommunication subsector as the most successful economic reform in Nigeria.

    They, however, stated that manufacturing in the Nigerian economy, especially for the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), has remained a nightmare for operators.

    They also lamented that the government initiates economic reforms belatedly and often undermines their benefits with contradictory policies.

    These views were expressed by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), the Nigerian Association of Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), and the Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprises (CPPE) in their respective messages to commemorate Nigeria’s 61 years independence anniversary. .

    In her remark, the Director General of the LCCI, Dr. Chinyere Almona, said, “the transformation in the telecommunications sector stands out as the most successful reform story in the economy. Many sectors have leveraged the transformation in telecoms to make significant progress through the use of ICT, especially in the services sector. Today, we have tech-enabled platforms supporting healthcare delivery, agriculture, education, transport, etc.”

    Almona, however, noted that the risk of investing in the manufacturing sector of the country’s economy has grown progressively in recent decades largely because of the poor quality of infrastructure.
    She said: “Unless there is effective and sustained protection and support for the sector, and a dramatic improvement in infrastructure, the outlook for the sector will remain gloomy, particularly for the small-scale industries. Most SMEs are yet to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic that struck last year.

    “For most manufacturing SMEs, it is a nightmare. Yet production is critical to enduring economic and social stability. The way forward is to address the fundamental constraints to manufacturing competitiveness in the Nigerian economy. Perpetual protectionism without supported mass local production cannot fix this problem.”
    The National President of NACCIMA, Mr. John Udeagbala, said that the celebration of Nigeria at 61came with mixed feelings as the country is still facing numerous economic and social challenges.

    Udeagbala said that the Nigerian economy today is faced with a high inflation rate, high unemployment rate, low growth rates, mounting local and foreign debt, and a depreciating currency while still largely being import-dependent.

    He attributed the current state of the economy to the government’s habit of initiating and implementing reform policies too late and counteracting their positive effects with different policies
    Udeagbala said that an example of belated policy intervention was the long time it took the government to package and commence the implementation of its Economic Sustainability Plan to counter the impacts of the COVID-19 lockdown measures on the Nigerian private sector.

    He added: “An example of the second is the current implementation of policies in the foreign exchange market that totally negate any benefits or relief that may have been obtained by the implementation of the ESP.”
    An Economist and the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the CPPE, Dr. Muda Yusuf, acknowledged that some sectors of the Nigerian economy, like the telecoms, have been significantly transformed over the past 61 years.

    Yusuf stated that the telecoms’ reform has boosted the number of telephone lines in Nigeria from 300,000 to 200 million currently.
    He said: “The economy has also witnessed considerable changes in the ICT sector and this has impacted many sectors through the digitalisation of their processes and systems. We have seen increased traction in IT applications in many sectors of the economy.”

    Yusuf noted that the country’s macroeconomic management framework has continued to pose serious challenges to investors in the economy and recommended that, “the international trade process needs to be reformed to prioritise trade facilitation. Therefore, the orientation of the Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian Ports Authority, the shipping companies and the terminal operators and the security agencies at the ports need to change in favour of investment-friendly international trade processes.”

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