Imperatives of NIRP | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Imperatives of NIRP

Posted: Apr 12, 2015 at 5:57 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

with  Andy Nssien

Available statistics from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) indicated that the value of non-oil exports, equivalent of 0.9 per cent of GDP, rose by 48.9 per cent to N708.9 billion in 2013  representing 4.8 per cent of total exports in 2013. This reflected the improvement in the domestic production of semi-manufactures and agricultural products for export, and sustained government’s strategic drive to enhancing value-added chains in the sub-sector.

Minister of Trade and Industry, Olusegun Aganga.

Minister of Trade and Industry, Olusegun Aganga.

However, prior to 1970 the non-oil sector spearheaded by the agriculture  accounted for more than 74 per cent of total exports, while the balance went to oil sector. But the oil boom of the 1970s changed the entire equation with  the oil sector assuming the driver’s seat of the nation’s economy. Consequently, agricultural and industrial sectors took the back seat, leading to the mindless neglect of the non-oil sectors by various governments.

As the country is now stewing in its own juice, no thanks to the plummeting oil prices, the imperatives of propping up the neglected segments can no longer be taken for granted.

To boost non-oil exports from the country, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), in collaboration with state governments, recently concluded plans to review export strategies, especially in the area of standardisation and capacity development.

The moves came in the wake of the nation’s revenue profile from non-oil exports which dropped from N2.9 billion to N2.7 billion in 2014.

According to the NEPC, the partnership with state governments was aimed at  seeking ways to boost non-oil export and replacing the country’s primary source of income with non-oil exports.

Of import, last year, the Federal Government re-jigged activities in the non-oil sector by launching the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP).

Under the  NIRP,  industries groups where Nigeria has comparative advantage and can lead in Africa and  attain the top 10 globally in the shortest possible time, were identified. This  includes wild fields of agro-allied and agro-processing, metals and solid minerals processing, oil and gas related industries, construction, large manufacturing and services.

The  NIRP is designed as a 5 year plan to accelerate the build-up of industrial capacity within Nigeria. The plan aims to increase manufacturing’s contribution to GDP from 4 per cent as of now  to 6 per cent by 2015, and finally above10 per cent by 2017. The Plan is based on the desire to drive a process of intense industrialization, based on sectors where Nigeria has comparative advantage – such as the agro allied sectors; metals & solid minerals related sectors; oil & gas related industries; as well as construction, light manufacturing and services.

In addition, the NIRP framework adopts the ‘Cluster approach’ to ensure that all requirements for an industry to succeed are considered. The elements of each industry’s“ Cluster” are the group of interconnected firms, suppliers, demand drivers, market channels, related industries, government agencies, underlying infrastructure, policies, and conditions to make each industry successful.

It  is the  nation’s first strategic, comprehensive, and integrated roadmap to industrialization. The plan focuses on developing sectors, where Nigeria has a natural comparative advantage, and ensuring that industry in general becomes competitive.

More important, the NIRP has identified industry groups where Nigeria has global and regional comparative advantage. These groups are expected to serve as “anchor sectors” to drive Nigeria’s industrialization.

Launched against the backdrop of a realization that  no country has become prosperous only by extracting and exporting its raw materials, the initiative bears commendations.

However, there is a fly in the ointment. Nigeria’s products especially agricultural produce have suffered neglect and rejection globally on account of poor quality and standards.

Until recently, there was nothing on ground to test and ascertain the quality of Nigerian products meant for exports. Thanks to the unflagging efforts of the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) which have seen to the establishment of Nigeria’s first food laboratories at the Lekki, Lagos office of the Organisation by the International Laboratory Accreditation Corporation (ILAC) of the United States. Hitherto, Nigeria had the acclamation of parading the worst cases of substandard goods globally as there were no facilities within the country to attest to their quality.

The SON Food laboratories have capacity to test 200 products and produce, and thereby cover all known food items on the table. With this facility, Nigerian exporters  would now be confident to approach the international market with their products having obtained the certification from the SON laboratories.

With government projection to double the non-oil export under the NIRP come 2017, it behoves the Nigerian business community to partner with SON to ensure that this dream is not only attained but surpassed in our quest to diversify foreign earnings.