END OF YEAR PRESS BRIEFING BY IYALODE ALABA LAWSON, MFR, FIoD, JP, NATIONAL PRESIDENT OF THE NIGERIAN ASSOCIATION OF CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE, INDUSTRY, MINES AND AGRICULTURE (NACCIMA) HELD AT THE NACCIMA SECRETARIAT, IKEJA LAGOS, ON FRIDAY, 28TH DECEMBER 2018.
Distinguished Gentlemen of the Press, on behalf of the Council, Executive Committee and entire members of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), I welcome you to the end of the year press briefing on Socio-economic matters of interest to NACCIMA and the Private Sector. This briefing reviews the state of the economy for the year 2018. It also offers a glimpse into our activities in the coming year.
2.0 A GENERAL REVIEW OF THE STATE OF THE ECONOMY.
The nation’s economy continues to show slow signs of improvement. The most recent reports from the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew at 1.81% in the third quarter of 2018. This is an improvement from the performance in the second quarter, which was 1.5% but a fall from the performance in the first quarter of 2018, which was 1.95%. Our view is that this is not enough, we need an appreciable improvement in our growth rate. The Consumer Price Index recorded as at November 2018 showed an inflation rate of 11.28%, indicating a continuous decline of the inflation rate which started at from January 2018. The Naira to USD exchange rate has remained stable at around N360 to 1 USD in the parallel market and N306.95 at the official CBN rate. While we welcome the stability of the exchange rate at the official and parallel market It is more desirable to collapse the multiple rate into one. Monetary Policy Rate has remained unchanged at 14% for the entire year, and foreign reserves stood at $43.2billion as at 21st December 2018 having reached as high as $47 billion as at July, 2018. With respect to the economic environment and the ease of doing business, Nigeria dropped one place in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business ranking, dropping from its 145th position to 146th out of 190 countries. The report showed poor performance in areas such as, Electricity supply; Dealing with Construction Permits; Registering Property; Paying Taxes; Resolving Insolvency; and Trading across Borders.
3.0 THE UNEMPLOYMENT SITUATION
Unemployment in Nigeria remains a source of serious concern to our Association. The NBS Labour Force Statistics Report for Quarter 3, 2018 shows that 20.9million are unemployed. The report also states that around 7.7million have been unemployed for a period ranging from one (1) to three (3) years, with a rate of 90percent still looking for a first job. The report shows an unemployment rate of 23.1% for Quarter 3, 2018. There has been a consistent and persistent increase in unemployment since the 6.4% unemployment rate recorded in Quarter 4, 2014. It is particularly worrisome that most of those in the unemployment market are our young people. This is a serious issue which calls for serious attention by all of us. We must work hard to create more jobs. This is why we at NACCIMA launched the NACCIMA Youth Entrepreneur to encourage our young people to go into entrepreneurship.
Ladies and Gentlemen, permit me make a brief remarks on the 2019 Budget and to highlight some trending socioeconomic issues and present NACCIMA’s view on them.
4.0 THE 2019 BUDGET
NACCIMA applauds the Federal Government of Nigeria and the National Assembly for the concerted efforts in ensuring that the budget cycle returns to the January to December period. The Association counsels that the Federal Government must redouble its efforts in promoting agriculture to ensure food security and import substitution. The Federal Government must also redouble its efforts in improving infrastructure, such as power, roads and rails, as well as its efforts at improving the ease of doing business. These will bring about positive change in the manufacturing sector (as Nigeria is still a net importer in Manufactured Goods). NACCIMA looks forward to the prompt passage and implementation of the programmes and capital projects outlined in the 2019 budget. Our Association, however, expresses concern with regards to the $60 per barrel crude oil price benchmark on which government budgeted revenues are based givent the well known burst and boom cycle of crude oil prices and volatility of the crude oil market . Although in his speech to the National Assembly, President Muhammadu Buhari gave assurances that his Administration will continue to monitor the international oil price situation and will respond to any changes in the international oil price outlook for 2019, our Association counsels that government begins to create contingency plans to source alternative non-debt funding for its budget expenditure.
The contribution of the Agriculture sector to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has remained consistent. The NBS Nigerian Gross Domestic Report for Quarter 3, 2018 showed that the Agriculture sector contributed 29.25% to GDP. This is consistent with the sector’s contribution to GDP in Quarter 3, 2017 of 29.22%. However, the growth of the agriculture sector has slowed to 1.91% from 3.06% a year before. NACCIMA is pleased to note the unfolding agricultural revolution and renewed interest in the nation’s Agriculture sector. We are of the view that the challenges arising from poor road infrastructure and difficulties on ease of doing business and acquisition of land may be responsible for the slow growth experienced in the sector. To improve the performance of the agriculture sector, more is required in the areas of research, financing for farmers, infrastructure, technology, logistics, quality and standard management.
The contribution of the industrial sector to Gross Domestic Product has declined slightly from 24% in Quarter 1, 2018 to 21.97% in Quarter 3, 2018. The sector also experienced negative growth of -0.11% in Quarter 3, 2018. However, on a positive note, the Central Bank of Nigeria’s report on Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for the month of November 2018 indicate some expansion in the manufacturing sector for the twentieth consecutive month. It is however important to note, though, that a lot of work is required to improve infrastructure, and power supply, is crucial to the sustained growth of the manufacturing sector. We therefore welcome effort to improve power supply by expanding the energy mix in Nigeria beyond hydro and thermal sources and the expansion of renewable energy including Solar, and off-grid sources.
The Misleading media report on Reported Closure of 800 companies:
But before I continue let me use this opportunity to clarify a recent misleading media reported to the effect that 800 companies shut down under Buhari three years. In a particular on line publication it had the sensational headline “800 Companies Shut Down Under Buhari’s 3 years,- NACCIMA”. The story was attributed to Dr Hebert Ajayi a past President of NACCIMA while he was speaking at the RMFAC Zonal Workshop in Asaba on Tuesday 18th December, 2018. It has since been proved that the story was a 2012 Publication which was recycled and doctored. It was a news item reporting on a workshop held in Asaba in 2012 and analyzing the state of the industry between 2009-2011 while Dr Herbert Ajayi was President of NACCIMA. For the avoidance of doubt NACCIMA in recent times did not make any such statement attributed to it regarding the closure of companies under the current Administration. We have of course since reacted to the story to correct the misleading impression it created. Equally several readers of the online news media have pointed out that the story was an news item published in 2012 which was being recycled and with a twist. I want to use this opportunity to appeal to the media to carry out due diligence before publication. . This has become very important in an era of fake news designed for various purpose and ulterior motives and for cheap political gains.
While we commend the increased allocations to capital projects in the Annual budget, NACCIMA is of the firm view that the late passage and late implementation of the budget have negative effect on the implementation of capital projects from one fiscal year to another. This position has serious and negative impact especially for the SMEs. And given the fact that over 37 million Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) employ over 60 million people in Nigeria. We must pay attention to this issue. Infrastructure such as road, power, rail and water are critical to effective functioning of the SMEs and Government must pay attention to this areas. We are therefore calling for the stringent implementation of capital projects designed to improve infrastructure as listed in the National Budget.
8.0 POWER SECTOR
The Nation’s power sector is of keen interest to the private sector especially to manufacturers.. Though the power sector has had a boost in the area of generation. We are concerned about the issues of “stranded power” and the hampered capacity to distribute due to obsolete and inadequate transmission and distribution equipment. NACCIMA hereby calls for more urgent steps to resolve these challenges especially in the areas of, metering, reduction in estimated billing, Transmission and Distribution. We nonetheless welcome the innovative solutions being put in place to resolve the issues surrounding power, such as the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission mini-grid regulation and the Energizing Economies Initiative (EEI) of the Rural Electrification Agency.
8.0 SOLID MINERALS AND MINING
In the third quarter of 2018, the Quarrying and other minerals sub-sector of the solid minerals industry grew by 83.37%, the Metal Ores subsector grew by 39.34%, while coal mining grew by 16.98. Despite this level of growth, it is the position of our Association that the huge potentials of the solid minerals sector are largely untapped. To put this in context, mining contributes about 8 per cent to Australia’s GDP and around 60 per cent of exports. In 2014, export earnings from resource and energy commodities totaled $174 billion. The Mining sector presents an area of great opportunity for the diversification of the economy increase contribution to GDP. This is why our Association work closely with government and other stake holders especially those in the private sector to support for the 2016 Roadmap For The Growth and Development of the NIgerian Mining Industry. (Notably The tag line of that road map is on the Road to shared mining prosperity)
We commend the efforts and commitment of the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development in the implementation of this Road Map designed for shared mining prosperity. Our commitment to make contribution to the implementation of the Road Map especially by the private sector inspired our Mining Road Show to Australia in August this year. It was a highly successful trip designed to attract Australian Mining Investors to the Nigerian Mining sector; to showcase the opportunities in Nigeria’s Mining sector with a view to increasing investments. During our trip to Australia we also met many our nationals in the Diaspora especially in Western Australia. Many of them participated in the last Nigerian Mining Week. This situation encouraged us in cooperation with Nigerian nationals in Perth to set up the NACCIMA Western Australian Diaspora Chapter. The Chapter will among other things encourage Australian mining investors to participate in the newly repositioned Nigerian mining sector. And indeed I am glad to report that some of them are WALKING THE TALK ALREADY. In response to our appeal some of them participated in the Nigerian Mining Week held between 15-17th October.
We are convinced that the vast deposit of minerals across our country is a source for improve contributions to the GDP and our desire to diversify the economy.Its a veritable source for improvement of IGR in states endowed wth solid mineral resources. So let pay more attention to this sector and I will suggest that Mining States should set up Special Purpose vehicle and consider PPP arrangement to harness the deposits in their jurisdiction. That’s why we are delighted with the recent establishment of a Gold Refinery in Ogun State. It is a practical demonstration of beneficiation of our mineral deposit in accordance with the quest to develop the mining industry starting with 7 priority minerals Gold, Iron Ore, Barite, Limestone, Lead,Zinc and Bitumen as envisioned on in the Mining Road Map..
9.0 ERGP IMPLEMENTATION
As we approach the second half of the implementation period for the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan 2017-2020, NACCIMA reiterates its support for the medium term plan and commends the government for successes so far achieved. We especially commend the activities of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) and initiatives such as the ERGP Focus Labs, SME Clinics and the various Executive Orders including in particular Executive Order designed to build our Science and Technology base. As the Voice of Nigerian Business, we will continue to support the Government and all stakeholders working to create and sustain an enabling business environment for the Real Sector against the background of the ERGP
The security situation in our country demand urgent and serious attention and determined action. NACCIMA uses this opportunity to underscore the importance of security of lives and property to economic growth and development. We commend the Federal Government for its efforts to ensure peace and end the insecurity in the land so far. However, these efforts need to be intensified to counter and end activities of terrorist and perpetrators of violence. The insecurity challenges currently plaguing many parts of the country acts of terrorism, kidnapping, robbery, vandalization and other vices are of deep concern to NACCIMA. It projects our country as unsafe and a place not to do business. NACCIMA hereby calls on the relevant Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) of Government assigned the responsibility of protecting lives and property to live up to the billing, and especially considering as we approach the elections.
11.0 YOUTH DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL INVESTMENT& NACCIMA YOUTH ENTREPRENEUR
Nigeria’s population recently estimated at 198 million has youths under the age of 30 making up more than 50%. NACCIMA commends the Government’s initiatives in the area of social investment. In his budget presentation to the National Assembly, President Muhammadu Buhari noted that 500,000 graduates have been employed to date; the National Home-Grown School Feeding program is feeding 9,300,892 pupils across Nigeria, and empowering 96,972 cooks; the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Program has disbursed 1,378,804 loans to small businesses and farmers in all states including the FCT; and 297,973 households in 26 states across the country are benefitting from the Conditional Cash Transfer program. Although, the impact of these programmes on unemployment is yet to be visible, the Association notes on the average, 500,000 to 800,000 young people join the labour force every quarter. The Association therefore counsels the government to intensify efforts in promoting these programmes to catch up with the increasing unemployment rate. NACCIMA also notes the positive impact increased capital expenditure spending and intensive efforts to empower youth through technical and vocational capacity building will have on reducing unemployment.
12.0 THE AFRICA CONTINENTAL FREE TRADE AREA (AfCFTA) AGREEMENT.
Our position on the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement is well known. A market of 1.2bn people with a GDP of 2.5trillion US Dollars cannot be ignored by Nigeria the biggest economy on the African continent. We are therefore delighted that steps have been taken to bring all stakeholders on board. The Association commends the efforts of the Federal Government, the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN) to increase stakeholder engagement. We look look forward to the report of the Presidential Committee on the AfCFTA which we believe will pave the way to Nigeria signing on to the AfCFTA.
13.0 THE ENTERTAINMENT AND CREATIVITY INDUSTRY
In recognition of the growing importance of the sector we have followed with keen interest the growth and expansion of the entertainment and creativity industry as well as the New Media It is worthy of note that our movie industry has grown to be the second largest film industry in the world. Our creativity industry which contributed 2.3% (NGN239 billion) to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2016. It has become a veritable avenue through which Nigerian culture and history is exported to the world. This over $5.1 billion-dollar industry is also sported as the country’s second-largest employer of labour after the agriculture sector thereby highlighting the great potential it holds. However, the challenges of financing, taxation, capacity, Infrastructure, Copyright infringements and piracy continue to limit the sector’s growth. We have therefore resolves to work with all stakeholders including the Ministry of Information and Culture, Bank of Industry, the CBN, the National Broadcasting Commission, Actor Guilds, Performing Artiste and reputable workers and promoters of art and culture in the Culture Circuit this sector in the coming year.
Indeed in recognition of possible contribution of NACCIMA to the sector, we have been approached to collaborate to participate at the the “Pavillon Afrique” which is a component part of the Cannes Film Festival from 14 – 25th May, 2019. Such events have the potential to increase investment in the Nigerian creative industry will providing the much needed international exposure for our talented youth in the creativity industry. We will in due course unveil THE NACCIMA ENTERTAINMENT AND CREATIVITY INDUSTRY FORUM in due course at the sometime in January 2019.
14.0THE 2019 ELECTIONS
As campaigning for the 2019 elections gather momentum, citizens can once again decide who leads us by objectively reviewing manifestoes – strategies, programmes and plans proposed by individuals prospecting to lead us as a nation. However, as we all know, election periods are often characterized by retrospect of several unfulfilled promises and bogus new ones in addition to accusations of vote buying. Of particular interest to NACCIMA is the matter of insecurity, loss of lives and property which maligns the election process when it occurs. As a major stakeholder in the nation’s economy, NACCIMA hereby calls for efficiency, alertness and responsiveness on the part of all Government Agencies involved in the electoral process. To the politicians, we urge for caution and implore them to apply the spirit of sportsmanship during the election process.
15. THE NEW FRONTIERS: The UN, NACCIMA Diaspora Engagements
In November this year we were invited to do so, by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and we participated at the 73rd United Nations General Assembly in New York in New York. It was the first time in the history of our Association. We seized the opportunity of our presence at the UNGA to participate at the proceedings of the General Assembly and to hold discuss with top officials such as the UN Deputy Secretary General our very own Amina Mohammed. We also held meeting with top officials of the UN Women the UN Entity dedicated to gender equality and empowerment of women at the headquarters of the Organisation. Our goals in this respect is to establish close collaboration of this foremost UN organization dedicated to promoting interests of women with the NACCIMA Women’s Group- NAWORG of which I am Global Convener. We are woking towards an M.o.U and participating in its various activities at home and abroad.
We also held meetings with members of the New York Chapter of Nigeria in Diaspora, America; NIDO-AMERICA NEW YORK CHAPTER. Certainly our move to be part of the UNGA was a strategic move to plug NACCIMA into the constellation of UN Development Agencies and also to start the process of tapping into the UN GLOBAL MARKET PLACE (UNGM) the UN Forum through business organisation to do business with the UN and its various Agencies estimated to be worth over $17 billon Dollars products and services annually. Presently Nigeria is said to be doing only $205 million in total. Our goal is to raise the quantum of business opportunities available at the UN to Nigerian Companies. . And we also intend to take advantage of AFFIRMATIVE PROCUREMENT under which UN Agencies are encouraged o patronize businesses run by women. This is in addition to being part of the various programmes of the UN designed to create a better world where peace and development will prevail.
LOOKING FORWARD: OUR MEDIUM TERM STRATEGY PLAN (MTSP)2018-2022
This year was certainly another milestone for NACCIMA. We went through an Accreditation process and after a rigorous exercise we were became accredited and duly certified as an internationally accredited Chambers by the Washington based Centre For International Private Enterprise. This is certainly a major achievement which reaffirmed our position as the leading national Chamber movement in Nigeria and indeed one of leading Chambers on the African continent. To upscale our activities and in accordance with our status and effective pursuit of our Mission and Vision as the Voice of Nigerian Business, at our Council Meeting held in Warri on November 28-29th 2018 we deliberated on and endorsed a Medium Term Strategic Plan ( MTSP) covering the period 2018-2022. Its a forward looking document submitted by the Secretariat to serve as a Road Map for us and to enable us cope with new challenges and key into new opportunities. The MTSP has its strategic Goals and Strategic Objectives, Timelines and Performance measure in the medium Term. Broadly outline the the thematic focus of the MTSP and Work Plan cover the following areas:
• Right Sizing, Restructuring and revamping our Secretariat to make it more efficient to serve our Association and members more effectively relate with the public.
• Work more on the issue of Job Creation and opportunities among the youth to reduce unemployment Promote Electronic Commerce in an era of digital Economy
• Promote Non-oil Export Activity and Manufacturing Promote SMEs
• Promote Agriculture with focus on Agripreneur Agric as Business especially among the Youth
• Promote NACCIMA’s Gender Agenda gender equality and Advancement as being promoted by the NACCIMA Women’s Group NAWORG
• Accelerated and expand the activities of the NACCIMA Youth Entrepreneurs which now has about 17 Branches across the Federation and are doing great things
• Promote the activities of the field of Entertainment Industry and the New Media and Creative Economy.
• Expand the NACCIMA Diaspora which is now increasing and attracting attention. It may interest you to know that the Western Australia Chapter which was established in August is thriving and working to secure participation of Australian Investors in the Mining Sector with involvement of Nigerian professionals who operate in the Mining Industry in Australia and Western Australia in Particular a strong mining State in Australia
• Improve the activities of our various Groups such as the Export, Mining Groups.
• Promote our engagement in the field of Environment and Sustainable Development;
The MTSP will occupy a key place and help in our programme of activities next and succeeding years.
Distinguished Gentlemen of the Press, as we exit the year 2018 which has seen our economy slowly consolidate its recovery from economic recession. We must understand that there is still much work to be done to consolidate our gains and work harder not to slip back into recession. Perhaps the foremost areas of challenges is the increasing insecurity and violence which threatened business and investment and project our country as an safe place to do business. Businesses cannot thrive in the midst of prolonged and elevated insecurity and the rather weak economic performance in certain sector in some geo-political zone is directly linked to insecurity arising from various sources. And government must take action to address the various sources of insecurity. And in this regard we must get it right at the 2019 elections.
Secondly the rise in Unemployment from 18.8% in 2017 to 23.1% in 2018 underscores the need for intensified innovative policy actions to combat unemployment. This will entail various measures including support for vocational training; industrial attachments and more efforts in job-creating infrastructure and development.
Thirdly we must tackle infrastructure deficit especially in the areas of electricity, Water and waste disposal. Significant progress in these areas are needed to remove current constrains on industrial and agricultural production.
Finally we must address the issue of pervasive poverty which stare us all in the face. The 11th World Congress of Chambers in June 2019 in Rio Brazil Has as its theme SHARED PROSPERITY. This is a recognition of the fact that we need to lift from poverty people across the world from poerty and in doing this chamber movement as visible and important player in the private sector has a role to play in this regard. NACCIMA is committed to the vision of shared prosperity among our people and lifting millions out of poverty and creation of a transformed world where peace and security will reign and business can thrive for the common good of all. NACCIMA will continue to play its part and in collaboration with all stake holders to achieve the desired goal.
Once again my sincere appreciation to you members of the press here today. You remain a veritable partner with NACCIMA in achieving our goal and quest for an enabling business environment for the private sector operators in the pursuit of inclusive growth and development of our beloved country and the well being of our people. Thank you all for your attention and God bless.
IYALODE ALABA LAWSON, MFR, FIoD, JP.
National President, NACCIMA.
NACCIMA’S PRESS BRIEFING 28TH DECEMBER 2018