Economists and financial experts have projected that Nigeria’s economy will grow at 3.47 per cent if the government focuses on investing in infrastructure that supports manufacturing, export, and small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs).
They also expect the government to provide tax incentives for businesses, improve the market, push for lower interest rates, and patronise local businesses.
The growth projection by local economists is 0.4 percentage points above what the economy is expected to close last year and marginally ahead of the World Bank’s projected 3.3 per cent.
While the World Bank and related institutions have projected the economy to grow at above three per cent, the local experts said the country would not achieve the forecast if the government does not deliberately promote export and domestic manufacturing as well as put measures in place to boost businesses.
They gave the submission at First Bank’s Nigeria Economic Outlook 2024-themed, ‘Current Realities and Prospects’ held in Lagos.
The Chief Consultant at B. Adedipe Associates Limited, Dr Biodun Adedipe, who was the keynote speaker, said the real game changer in the manufacturing sector is for government to come to terms with the reality that if SME manufacturers will thrive in the country, there should be investments in the supporting infrastructure.
Adedipe said infrastructure may come in the form of building industrial parks or clusters where the government could provide spaces and basic things like power, water and roads such that manufacturers would not need to invest in infrastructure to produce.
Speaking on the mass exit of foreign manufacturing companies, Adedipe said the companies are implementing their global strategy of 2013, noting that Nigeria still stands out as a market where most manufacturers would sell their goods.
Adedipe said companies from Dubai, Germany, Switzerland and five different countries, in the last three months, have been making enquiries on establishing businesses in Nigeria as they find the market attractive.
Adedipe urged the government to make the environment more conducive and carry out thorough research on the needs of manufacturing giants and the reasons they would come to Nigeria instead of China or elsewhere.
He emphasised the importance of aligning the growth expectations with the broader economy while cautioning against the risk of falling behind.
The Chief Executive Officer, FirstBank Group, Dr Adesola Adeduntan, expressed optimism about the economic outlook. He called for businesses to adjust and adapt to strategies of the evolving landscape of government policies and priorities proactively and actively.
He referenced the recently signed appropriation and highlighted the potential for economic stimulus that would benefit serious market players.
Adeduntan urged businesses to take decisive action for a positive and forward-looking approach rather than giving excuses for inaction, while also focusing on finding ways to succeed rather than dwelling on the possibility of failure.
The Special Adviser on Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) and Investment, Jumoke Oduwole, said the private sector should be enabled to take full advantage of the economy and dominate the African continent.
She said while the country has many products in the non-oil export segment, the business environment still needs a lot of attention.