Local economic development for sustainable growth

EconomyECONOMIC growth is undoubtedly an important means for creating jobs, increasing people’s incomes and reducing poverty. A sustainable growth in the economy of Africa’s largest nation will give room for opportunities for poor and mid class people to support their families and build more stable futures. Statistics from Trading Economics website indicate that Nigeria economy decelerated remarkably in 2015, mainly due to low oil prices, turmoil in financial markets and severe imbalances in the foreign exchange market after Central Bank of Nigeria decided to maintain an artificially induced-strong Naira.

The economic outlook shows that unemployment rate is expected to be 10.7 per cent by the fourth quarter of 2016. The Nigeria GDP expanded by 3.0 per cent in 2015, which was below the 6.2 per cent experienced in 2014, marking the weakest growth in over one and half decades.

Although economic growth rate (GDP) is estimated to be about 9.19 per cent for the year 2016, challenges that make it difficult for Nigeria to stimulate and sustain economic growth include lack of timeous and accurate data for evidence based policies, weak trade and investment institutions leading to high unemployment, poor developmental infrastructures, lack of access to financial services and unsuitable laws and regulations. The microeconomic polices such as increase and sustained investment in infrastructure, creation of stimulus packages that primarily target infrastructure project and others should be taken over by the state and local governments.

The physical developments going on in Lagos, Ogun and Oyo states and local councils are commendable.
A situation where Federal government deals with all macro and micro economic policies implementation should be avoided. Sustainable development is said to be attained when development satisfies the needs of current generation without compromising the ability and capacity of future generations to meet their needs.

Data are raw materials for statistical “Industries” and its quality affects the data-ecosystem. There is need for mobilizing the data revolution for sustainable development in Nigeria; this has to be done by aggressively annexing all National Statistical Organisations to focus on the goals of this new development in Data era. The Independent Expert Advisory Group (IEAG) established by United Nations secretary General towards mobilising the data revolution for sustainable development recommended five actions to be taken by all members of UN.

These are: develop global consensus on principles and standards; share technology and innovations for the common goal; new resource for capacity development; leadership for coordination and mobilization and finally, exploit some quick wins on sustainable development goals (SDG) data. Nigeria’s Statistical Systems need to be Data revolution compliant for sustainable economic growth.

Federal, state and local governments need to create the right incentives for firms to invest; Private investment by both foreign and domestic firms contributes to the economic growth that is needed to reduce poverty in Nigeria. To encourage investment, these three-tier governments should create a regulatory framework that is proportionate, effective, transparent and balanced.

The bureaucracy on business registration should first be removed; a situation when it takes 30-90 days to register businesses should be discouraged. In Bangladesh, for example, business registration process has been streamlined from more than one month to one day and the processes are completed online without any intermediary consultants. This work has resulted in over 19,000 new businesses being registered in two years.

Individuals’, corporate bodies’ and firms’ willingness to invest depends on the business environment – the extent to which the laws, regulations and infrastructure within a country support or limit enterprising activities. Businesses need a degree of certainty and an acceptable level of risk. To achieve this, Nigeria needs: a strong rule of law, enforceable property and land rights, better regulations, reduced unwanted trade barriers, proper infrastructure, a functioning tax system and trade and transparent monitoring systems.

There is need to improve on transport, electricity and water supplies and services, which assist trade and create an environment in which business can flourish. Key stakeholders in the economy such as tertiary institutions need to be assisted and encouraged to embark on programmes that will lead to capacity building with added values to economy. By vigorously resuscitating the River basins authorities, farm settlements as well as cocoa, groundnut and coal producing centers in Nigeria will surely revive the down trending economy.

The Economic stimulus finances (ESF) products should enable individual or companies to manage risk and broaden their access to foreign and domestic capital markets. Private sector investment is essential for expanding businesses, creating jobs, and growing economies. The government should work with the private sector to encourage entrepreneurship and build sustainable businesses—advising them on a wide range of issues, including environmental, social and governance standards, energy, resource efficiency and supply chains.

Government at all levels should help to expand access to critical finance for individuals and micro, small, and medium size enterprises through financial intermediary clients. Under the rule of law, the judiciary system should provide a strong, predictable and transparent commercial legal environment which is critical to stimulate domestic and foreign investment in developing countries. To operate and grow, businesses need clear rules and the ability to enter into agreements and resolve disputes quickly and affordably.

The Nigeria government and businesses should consider an economic model that accommodates the risk around financial markets (credit and liquidity) and build in strategies for strong growth with extensive plans for liquidity facilities, tax reforms and monitoring cash supply in areas affected by instability due to militants’ insurgence. Federal government should focus on results, and avoid prescribing rigid policies and actions. States and local councils should be allowed space to respond accordingly to their particular needs and circumstances.

All budget and planning activities should be evidence based and aligned to National Development Plans (NDP). There should be an overall SWOT assessment to meet the needs of Nigeria local economic development (NLED) planning. The aim is to identify major regional and federal assets or strengths and main local obstacles to growth or weaknesses. The SWOT of NLED will seek to detect the main opportunities and threats that are posed by the external environment.

This SWOT of NLED analysis can then, in turn, be used to formulate strategies that will allow the Nigeria locality to make the most of its internal strength and the external opportunities and minimize the negative effects of weaknesses and threats.
• Dr. Shangodoyin is the president of Botswana Statistics Association and professor of Statistics at the University of Botswana, Botswana. shangodoyink@mopipi.ub.bw

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