Reducing dependency on oil revenues and diversifying its income sources have been on the agenda of the Buhari administration for the past two years.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo during a media chat at the 2017 Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce SMEs Conference said Nigeria’s economic diversification is taking root, “we are getting positive results, he said.
Diversification is Key to unleashing Nigeria’s economic potential, according to experts.
Question: You have gone round most of the stands here. What is your impression of what you have seen here today?
Osinbajo: I am always excited to see how extremely innovative and just how energetic our own manufacturing community is and there is just a wide range of products that we have seen here today.
One of the things that strikes you is that there is so much going on that you don’t even know about. This is my second visit, I was here last year for this exhibition and there is tremendous improvement already. I am just seeing someone who has a drying technology out there which could really help with a lot of post-harvest losses and all that. There are people who are doing all manner of creative things, it is fantastic. It just tells you that what we are saying about diversification of the economy especially the agro-processing, agro-allied value chain, it is already taking root so much and we are seeing tremendous progress.
Question: Your Excellency, you signed an executive order recently to facilitate ease of doing business, how will that impact the development of MSMEs?
Osinbajo: One of the most important things is the whole business of pre-investment approvals and also the kinds of approval that you expect to get from NAFDAC, SON and the support you expect to get from BOI and I am glad to see that they are all here. So, I think that they are a lot more proactive and they are working a lot more on the time it takes to get these approvals. So that is really one of the most important things about these executive orders, just generally getting all of the relevant agencies to quicken the pace of granting approvals for all of these products and I think that we are getting positive results.
Question: At one of the business forums, the issue of dysfunctional ports especially Port Harcourt and Calabar, ships not coming in and all that was raised. What is the way forward?
Osinbajo: Just as you have pointed out, we simply, really need to develop more ports, and it has to be private sector-led. A lot of these initiatives have to be private sector driven and we have been talking to several of the business communities in those areas. Many people are talking about eastern ports, I think they are important. We have also seen a lot of indications from the private sector that they are prepared to invest in some of the ports. So, the business of government is simply to enable these things to happen and we are prepared to do so.
Question: You have been talking about the hidden opportunities in Nigeria, perhaps you would want to use this opportunity to talk more about them?
Osinbajo: The opportunities are no longer even hidden. I think what everyone has come to discover is that this country is just so blessed, so much in terms of resources. And I think what we have seen especially with the young entrepreneurs here today is that these things are already being exploited.
In this particular ecosystem, you have the USAID working with a lot of the entrepreneurs who are here and there is a lot export going on- export of Moringa, Shea butter, but the good thing is that they are not exporting raw products, they are actually processing and packaging them, and the packaging is world-class. If you look around you can’t tell that this isn’t from any of the world class supermarkets. I am really proud of what these young entrepreneurs are doing, I like going round to see what they are doing.