Nigeria must embrace industrial revolution to bounce back economically — AfDB

NIGERIA urgently needs to revolutionise its industrial sector to bounce back and regain its status as an economic giant, the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwunmi Adesina, said in Lagos on Thursday, July 13.

Adesina, citing country experience, pointed at how Malaysia and Vietnam used aggressive horizontal and vertical diversification of industrial production to move from low-value to high-value market products.

“The result is reflected in the comparative wealth of the three countries. While the per capita export value is $7,100 for Malaysia and $3,600 for Vietnam, it is only $160 for Nigeria,” he said.

The AfDB head told an audience of top government officials, leading industrialists, and other stakeholders that for now, Nigeria was developing too slowly and far below its potential.

Adesina, who spoke at the 2023 BusinessDay CEO Forum, appealed to Nigeria’s new president, Bola Tinubu, to revive what he called the country’s comatose manufacturing sector  and reposition Nigeria as an industrial hub.

Speaking on the theme, ‘The Day the Lion Roared: Making Nigeria a Global Industrial and Economic Giant,’ Adesina emphasised that Nigeria’s prosperous future could only be secured by it strongly supporting the private sector to unlock wealth that would lift all its people.

He said, “Nigeria should never be a poor country, and Nigerians are tired of being poor,” Adesina said, adding, “Nigeria must move decisively from managing poverty to managing wealth The challenge is for the lion to roar. Then we will have the making of an economic giant. Industrial manufacturing can earn Nigeria 10 times what it earns from oil dependence.”

To achieve this, Adesina urged decision-makers to implement the right policies on investments, infrastructure, logistics, and financing frameworks, driven by a highly skilled, dynamic, and youthful workforce.

He said this involved closing the huge gap between policy ideas and action. He called on the Nigerian government to transform its ports and remove administrative hurdles to improve their efficiency.

He stressed, “Ports are not military zones; they are zones of economic and industrial transformation.”

Adesina illustrated his position by drawing from the popular motion picture, ‘The Lion King’, in which Simba, the young lion cub, grew up to become the Lion King after his late father was murdered by his uncle Scar, ruling the kingdom, and restoring its glory.

He encouraged Nigeria to be proactive and ambitious in its manufacturing sector by integrating it into global and regional value chains. He explained this would involve rapidly moving up the value chain in areas of comparative advantage and greater specialisation and competitiveness.



    He added that a well-developed and policy-enabled manufacturing sector, with export orientation, would spur greater innovation, industrial policy for export market development, and structural transformation of the economy.

    “Instead of being consumed with conserving foreign exchange, the focus would shift to expanding foreign exchange through greater export value diversification,” he said.

    Adesina, harping on the Malaysia and Vietnam examples, said that while both countries had moved into “global manufacturing growth,” creating massive wealth and jobs for themselves, Nigeria had remained in “survival mode,” still unable to replace its imports of petroleum products, despite being one of the largest exporters of crude oil.

    He warned that Nigeria’s industries would remain uncompetitive if the country did not resolutely address the shortage and reliability of electricity supply.

    Harrison Edeh is a journalist with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, always determined to drive advocacy for good governance through holding public officials and businesses accountable.

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