By CHIOMA OBINAGWAM
STAKEHOLDERS at the just concluded Standard Bank West Africa Investors’ Conference held at the Expo Centre, Eko Hotel and suites in Lagos have said opportunity to diversify the economy, invest in critical sectors and stimulate growth of the SME space will see Nigeria on the path to sustainable development.
Chairman of Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC, Mr. Atedo Peterside, speaking on the conference theme: Unlocking Nigeria’s potential…growth through diversification, stated that the theme was partly derived from the government’s agenda for broadening revenue sources against the backdrop of lower commodity prices.
He said diversification of the economy has become imperative considering the growing needs of the populace for new jobs and other welfare packages that will help reduce poverty levels, he said, adding that concerted action is required to drive sustainable economic growth.
Peterside said the “the point to realize is that “economic diversification can only take place meaningfully if new capital investment activity takes place to take maximum advantage of increased domestic competitiveness.”
In his presentation, Dr. Yemi Kale, Statistician General of the Federation, frowned at the practice of describing the structure of the Nigerian economy in terms of government revenue source.
“True, government revenue is dependent on the oil and gas sector but the economic structure of Nigeria is not solely dependent on oil and gas, albeit an important part. If you look at the recent revised national accounts, it is evident that oil value added has been negative for years now, and in fact it is the non-oil sector that had sustained the economy.”
CEO, Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC, Mrs. Sola David-Borha, in her closing remarks, reiterated the need for the public and private sectors to work together to tackle the economic headwinds, especially with worrying predictions of imminent job losses and higher unemployment numbers.
The event attracted a long list of top government and private sector functionaries, regulators and policy makers. Among those that graced the event were Dr. Abraham Nwankwo, Director General, Debt Management Office; Executive Chairman, Phillips Consulting Group, Mr. Foluso Phillips; Faculty member, Lagos Business School, Dr. Doyin Salami; and Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, NASD Plc, Mr. Bola Ajomale, among others.