The World Bank, the Nigerian Economic Summit Group and other stakeholders have highlighted the need to improve Nigeria’s competitiveness in a bid to accelerate economic development.
They stated this in Lagos at a workshop on economic competitiveness in Nigeria organised by the NESG in collaboration with the World Bank.
The workshop was designed to focus on three main broad themes of infrastructure, institutions and governance as well as access to finance.
The NESG said the essence of the workshop was to spark interest and spur commitment among stakeholders to commit to driving implementation that would improve competitiveness from now till 2017.
A World Bank representative and co-author of the African Competitiveness Report, Barak Hoffman, said, “Productivity has slowed down in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa in the last decade, including, most notably, Nigeria. Low productivity growth is, cause of concern as it threatens sustained, long-run growth in the region and levels of quality employment.”
He said improving competitiveness was critical to laying the foundations for a solid future.
Hoffman said, “Sub-Saharan Africa continues to be the least competitive region. Nigeria ranks 124 out of the 140 countries in the global competitiveness index, between the Gambia and Zimbabwe; up three places from 2014 to 2015.
“Nigeria performs well on market size, macroeconomic environment, and labor market efficiency. But trails in health and primary education, higher education and training, and infrastructure. Nigeria ranks lower on the index than most countries near its level of income.”
According to the report, the most problematic factors for doing business in the country include poor infrastructure, corruption and access to financing are the most problematic factors for doing business in Nigeria.
The Chief Executive Officer, NESG, Mr. Laoye Jaiyeola, said, “Unless Nigeria is competitive, all the investments we need both locally and externally will not come here. Since the World Bank in conjunction with World Economic Forum, the African Development Bank and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development have launched this Africa report, they are going round again to ask questions regionally and nationally.
“So, it is a dialogue. We find out where we are, what progress we have made and what we need to do to improve.”
The Chief Executive Officer, Stanbic IBTC holding Plc, Mrs. Sola David-Borha, said the recent monetary policy changes had helped to boost investor confidence in the country.
She said, “The past one and half months have brought a ray of light back into the Nigerian economy. The Central Bank of Nigeria’s decision to clear the backlog of trade liabilities by selling $4bn on the first day was hugely welcomed. It helped to calm the market. There is still some backlog of under $2bn and the possibility of clearing it on the spot market or through forward contracts have helped to improve confidence in the market.”
“Monetary and fiscal policies have to continue to work together to strengthen our confidence. A financial market that does not have liquidity cannot exit. There is no market that can thrive without liquidity. They need to continue to ensure that liquidity is available in the market.”
On his part, the Chief Executive Officer, National Competitiveness Council of Nigeria, Mr. Chika Mordi, said it was necessary to improve the nation’s competitiveness in order to grow the economy.
Mordi said that the country had all that it takes to compete at the global market.
He said that in spite of its ability to compete at the international scene, the country was still facing some challenges.