All countries try to leverage on their competitive advantages – it is common sense if nothing else to do so, but turning a theoretical advantage (or even a disadvantage) into a competitive force is what separates the men from the boys in this game.
The NIRP seeks to increase the share of manufacturing to the GDP from the current 4%, to more than 10% over a five-year period. It is hoped that this will boost the annual revenue earned by local manufacturers by up to N5 trillion (about $3.08bn) per annum.
Jonathan said the NIRP will help to fast track economic growth by reducing the current haemorrhaging of the nation’s reserves caused by unbridled importation. Virtually everything is imported into the country – from toothpicks to fruit juice. This has stunted the growth of local industries that are unable to compete with rival imported brands.
He explained why the plan had focused the sectors selected: “These sub-sectors were prioritised because they will also generate jobs and tap into existing markets and demand in Nigeria. In each of these sectors, we could become number one in Africa and in the top 10 globally, because of our competitive advantage.”
The NIRP will, he promised, address perennial constraints such as poor infrastructure, epileptic power supply and the high cost of borrowing that have plagued manufacturing in the country, and it will promote ‘made in Nigeria goods’ both domestically and abroad.
The President also launched the National Enterprise Development Programme (NEDEP), which will focus on micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the country, at the occasion. NEDEP will strive to enhance the competitiveness of MSMEs, which are often regarded as the bedrock for industrialisation.
According to a 2010 survey by the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) and the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the country has 17m MSMEs, employing over 32m people. Government is also supporting at least one product in all 774 local governments in the country based on each local government’s area of competitive advantage. In addition, it wants to create industrial parks in all the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). This will enhance the competitiveness of the economy in the long run.