Considering the current economic reality of the country, there is no auspicious time than now to promote the nation’s non oil sectors. If we are really serious about the diversification of the economy, it is quite imperative for us to start making concerted efforts to revive moribund local industries. Reviving local industries will certainly be the best way to encourage the production and consumption of locally made goods and products. Over reliance on crude oil as the primary export commodity and foreign exchange earner has certainly done our local industries great harms.
Undoubtedly, the promotion of local industries is a rational path to follow at this point in time. Aside addressing the unemployment crisis in the country, revitalizing local industries would usher us into the path of economic prosperity. This is the secret behind the prosperity of the Asian tigers. Our ability to achieve similar feat will depend on our capacity to harness human and material resources towards the promotion of locally made goods that can compete in both local and international markets. Universally, sustainable development that would guarantee jobs, vary the economy, advance the standard of living as well as security of lives and properties depends on the existence of a robust economic development agenda that encourages production and sustenance of local goods.
Fortunately, we have a remarkable advantage in our size. Conservatively, the country’s population is put at over 160 million. Nigeria is home to about one in five Africans. This is a major strength that we can really leverage on to promote the Nigerian brand in terms of products and services. We are in a position to play a strong continental and global role because of our huge population as well as abundance natural resources.
But then, we need to come up with the appropriate legislation that would ensure the protection of local industries. It is a thing of serious concern that the production capacity of our local industries can neither suit local consumption nor export. A situation where Nigerians depend on imported goods for all manners of items isn’t good for our economic growth. The idea of patronizing local goods should not be regarded as a parochial scheme. Rather, it should be view as a call for nationwide partnership to develop the kind of collective commerce pattern that would have positive bearing on national development. It has the potential to enhance the utility value of goods as products and consequent services for the specific orientation and cultural needs of the Nigerian people.
Though, the present Federal Government is making efforts in this direction, but it is essential that we thoroughly overhaul the nation’s importation policy to discourage items that can be locally manufactured. We need to embrace attitudinal, structural, and cultural change that would enable major stakeholders to modify their outlook towards locally made products.
Certainly, promotion of local industries will boost the nation’s manufacturing sector and by extension create more jobs. It is through this that indigenous firms can take advantage of bigger markets at regional, continental and global levels. It is important for the country to appreciate its fundamental dynamics by making policies that will ensure sustainable economic development. Advocating and supporting local industries would surely help accelerate the pace of our economic development.
There is no country that has managed to strengthen its economy with total dependence on imported goods. Therefore, the way forward to achieving economic emancipation is through empowerment of local industries through diverse means which include constant power supply, tax holiday, access to funding and consistent economic policy among others. Recent giant strides in the cement industry have suitably proved that if given the right environment, local industries could enhance the progress of economic growth.
While it must be acknowledged that the Bank of Industry (BOI) is making good efforts in terms of providing access to fund, things would no doubt get much better if more banks and financial institutions could help more local entrepreneurs with the much needed fund.
Perhaps, more importantly, in order to ensure that the required workforce to enhance the operations of local industries in the country is readily and constantly available, it is of utmost importance that all tiers of government pay adequate attention to technical education. Technical education prepares people for specific trades, crafts and careers at various industrial levels. It is a form of education that centers on manual or practical activities, related to a specific trade, occupation, or vocation. This makes the trainee develop expertise or skill in a particular group of techniques.
As we aspire to diversify our economy; it is evident that a vital instrument needed for attaining such height is skilled manpower development and a competent workforce. This is necessary for the effective implementation of national development projects and for attracting foreign investors. Current studies have shown that universities, polytechnics, technical/vocational colleges, educational institutions have been largely incoherent with industrial and socio-economic needs due to continuous neglect of technical/vocational education of competence and undue emphases on ‘paper qualification/certification’. This trend has further retarded scientific and technological breakthroughs and as such it must be urgently addressed.