Foremost entrepreneur, Aliko Dangote, has flayed the paltry contributions of the manufacturing sector to the country’s GDP and advocated urgent steps to reverse the trend if the economy is to make appreciable industrial growth.
Dangote described as unacceptable the contribution of the manufacturing sector which currently stood at 9%, unlike in the Asian countries which presently stand at about 30%.
Therefore, “to achieve a significant level of industrialization and general economic growth, this trend must be reversed,” he said.
Dangote, who was represented by the company’s Group Executive Director, Government and Stakeholder Relations, Ahmed Mansur, during a panel session at the on-going National Economic Summit Group (NESG), which opened in Abuja on Monday, said the private sector is key to the much touted industrial revolution.
He disclosed that his conglomerate is already leading Nigeria into the new epoch through massive investments in the manufacturing sector and skill development because Nigeria and indeed Africa must take bold steps to change the narrative of industrial backwardness of the continent.
Dangote was of the opinion that where there is will, there is way, adding that with the right policy framework, consistency and infrastructural development, the goal can be achieved.
Said he: “Dangote is in the business of producing and distributing cement, foods etc. However, we have found ourselves engaged in power generation, road construction e.t.c as these are critical foundations for our businesses,” he added.
While speaking during the panel discussion on “Competing with the Giant: Achieving Rapid Industrialization, Transforming Education”, Dangote explained that the theme for this year’s Economic Summit, “Nigeria 2050: Shifting Gears” is apt, as Nigeria has to drive on the fast lane of industrialisation.
He said his company was already leading Nigeria into the 4th industrial revolution, adding that: “Once we catch up with 2nd industrial revolution, our entrepreneurial youth can help us leapfrog to the 3rd and 4th. This is what happened with the IT revolution in India.”
According to him, “The 4th industrial revolution is global in nature. Solutions are being developed by global companies for a global market. Skilled people from all over the world are participating in the development of these solutions.”
He urged government to encourage more investments from local entrepreneurs, saying the country can learn from the Korean experience where they supported a number of conglomerates.
Dangote also said the government must, among other things: decongest the ports, expand rail network, tackle smuggling, implement gas masterplan and entrenching responsive bureaucracy.
“At Dangote, we set up Training Academy several years ago primarily to provide a talent pipeline to our group. Plans are ongoing to take our passion for talent development a step further by setting up a world class university within the next few years”.
Speaking also, Chairman of the Economic Advisory Council, Dr. Doyin Salami, the country will require innovation and the private sector must play a central role for the radical transformation of the Nigerian economy.
Another member of the panel of discussion, Chairman of First Bank Plc, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, said inclusiveness and the right educational system are required for rapid development.
Speaking earlier, the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, rolled out an 11-point priority plan for economic development. These are: macroeconomic stability, anti-corruption, improved health, availability of energy, sufficiency in petroleum products, improved transportation, industrialization and development of small scale industries, security, agricultural development, social inclusiveness and mass housing.
The chairman of the NESG, Asue Igbodalo, said the partnership between the private and the public sector is key to the economic development of the country.