Nigeria is focused on driving local manufacturing of goods as part of its sustained effort to diversify the economy, and would appreciate the support of developed countries in the area of enhancing its technical capacity, Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udoma, said on Thursday.
The Minister told a German delegation led by that country’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Dietmar Kreusel, that Nigeria will welcome the support of their home country, particularly in the area of technical support and expertise, to drive small and medium scale industries and aid manufacture of quality products within the country.
Speaking at the commencement of the Nigeria-Germany Consultations Meeting on Development Cooperation in Abuja, the Minister said Nigerians are hardworking people just like the Germans, and are willing to challenge themselves in those critical areas that will create employment and help the economy, but would need technical expertise to hasten the process.
“We welcome your support especially in developing our technical capacity to do any of those things ourselves. We are impressed by the apprenticeship system that the Germans have, where right from the teen age they are taken on board and actually taught skills and exposed to technology. Those sorts of skills help form the foundation of modern economy”.
Mr. Udoma said the Nigerian government is determined to diversify the economy as a whole so as to avoid a repeat of the country’s economic woes, which largely results from overdependence on a single commodity – crude oil.
“You may wish to note”, he said, “that our administration is working very hard to place our economy on the path of sustainable growth and development. Historically, over the past 30 to 40 years, Nigeria has been overly dependent on the fortunes of one commodity – crude oil. As the price of crude oil slides and production levels dip, so are the fortunes of the Nigerian economy.
“We are determined, as a government, to diversify the economy as a whole. When you look at the breakdown elements of the GDP of Nigeria, crude oil and the petroleum sector account for less than 10 per cent of GDP, so it ought not account, as it currently does, for about 95 per cent of our foreign currency earnings; and that is what we have to work upon – to diversify our sources of government revenue, and we are working hard at it”.
He said government is putting much emphasis on agriculture in the interim because it is capable of yielding quick results but long term focus is also on developing the solid minerals base, looking at light manufacturing and developing Export Processing Zones, among others.
“And we will welcome German companies to come and invest. We are looking for investments, investments that will benefit both the investors and Nigeria; and create jobs,” he added.
While appreciating the support of the German Government so far, the Minister recalled that during the first consultation meeting on Development Cooperation, agreements were reached on a number of areas including financial cooperation, educational initiatives, agriculture and other technical areas.
He noted that the German government is also supporting Nigeria in the Save School Initiative and the agricultural sector, technical and youth development, the Nigeria Energy Support Programme, Sustainable Small Holder Agro-businesses among others. He also noted the €24.9 million support for the Pro-poor Growth and Employment Promotion as well as the €200 million credit support agreed for the Development Bank of Nigeria.
The Minister said he looked forward to a more beneficial and better enhanced relationship between the two countries following from the discussions at the meeting.
The two-day meeting is billed to discuss sustainable economic development, energy, public health, peace and security, regional programmes, multilateral issues, among others.