A former Director- General, West African Institute of Financial and Economic Management, Prof. Akpan Ekpo, has said that Nigeria’s economy needs urgent structural transformation.
Ekpo stated this in Lagos while reviewing the 2018 economy and the expectations for 2019 at the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce February breakfast meeting.
Commenting on the Gross Domestic Product statistics for the third quarter of 2018, the economist, who was also the keynote speaker at the breakfast meeting, noted that the sub-sectors that were supposed to create jobs all recorded negative growth.
He listed the sectors as motor vehicle assembly plants, banking and financial services, real estate and others.
He noted that manufacturing in Nigeria was all about packaging, bottling and assembling.
He said, “The economy is still at the primary stage of production. It has not been transformed structurally. The economy did not do well in 2018.”
On the outlook for the economy in 2019, Ekpo said that the economy would grow by three per cent if there was improvement in its management.
He observed, however, that a lot of things were still left unattended to, such as the 2019 budget that had yet to be passed.
“It becomes embarrassing to see that in January there is no budget. The National Assembly will not discuss the budget until March.
“The budget is an economic document. Investors look at it to make decisions. Delay in the budget approval affects the forecasting model,” he said.
Ekpo added that there were multiple exchange rates in the system although there had been stability in the foreign exchange market.
He described the unemployment rate which was put at 55 per cent as “a time bomb that had already exploded” saying that unless the situation changed, Nigeria’s economic growth would be impaired.
The economist listed other factors that might affect the performance of the economy as the approaching general elections, Nigeria’s growing population without corresponding growth in per capita income, the global situation such as the trade war between the United States of America and China and the Brexit.
In his welcome address, the National President, NACC, Otunba Toyin Akomolafe, said that the topic of the breakfast meeting was timely.
He said, “According to the World Bank, Nigeria’s GDP growth has remained largely unimpressive and still exhibits the same pattern of the pre-crisis period of 2017.
“As of the third quarter of 2018, the combination of unemployment and underemployment rates have reached an all-time high of 43.3 per cent, with an estimated 49.1 per cent of the country’s population living below the poverty line.
“Hence, staying well informed and understanding the implications of the changes that had occurred, the measures to be employed and the prospect for the future are important to us all.”
He added that the chamber would continue to promote the development of trade, commerce, investment and industrial technological relationships between the public and private sectors of Nigeria and the US.