Diversification of the Economy Must top Our National Agenda - Mascot Uzor Kalu

Many countries of the world are currently formulating policies that might ultimately affect Nigeria’s earning potential. Although, many ideas have put forward in a bid to diversify our economy; there has been little or no traction when it comes to actual implementation.

China, which is the world’s biggest vehicle market, is strongly considering banning the production and sale of cars run by fuel. The country wants to focus on the production of electric vehicles as a way of easing the pollution problem in Beijing. The move would follow similar plans announced by France and Britain to outlaw the sale of petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2040 in order to clamp down on harmful emissions. As the measure looms, foreign vehicle manufacturers have announced plans to boost the production of electric cars in China.

Volvo will introduce its first 100% electric car in China in 2019, while Ford will market its first hybrid vehicle early next year and envisions 70% of all its cars available in China will have electric options by 2025. This reality portends the need to drastically revamp the dependence of our economy on crude oil. Despite the sharp drop in the prices of crude in the international market, we have not fully diversified our economy to areas such as agriculture and technology. Based on the timetable of these major car manufacturers, Nigeria must prioritise the creation of other viable means to grow our GNP and GDP.

Also, the production levels of crude in the Niger-Delta have hit a very low ebb. The agitation to move the headquarters of each of the Oil producing firms to the area has been affecting production. Although, the restive youths have managed to be assuaged; the future does not look promising except a lasting solution is put in place. With a population that stands at over 180 million people, we have the human capital to drive any positive change that we desire. Countries like Singapore, China and Japan have been able to prove that a concerted economic drive can put any nation at its rightful place in the international community.

Based on the natural resources in Nigeria, a strong focus should be given to Agriculture which was the strength of our economy before Oil was discovered. The Cocoa farmers, Groundnut farmers, Cassava production levels must get the relevant boost as we seek a way out of the current quagmire.

A significant increase in national yields means that we may not be able to consume everything that we produce. Many stakeholders have decried the poor storage facilities that are prevalent in Nigeria. When we take out the issue of storage, we can hit high food production levels. This means that the country has no choice but to enter into the food market. Inadvertently, this will make us part of those who are servicing the needs of various nations in the world. Once the right machineries are put in place, agriculture can contribute to our GDP and become a primary foreign exchange earner for the country.

There must be a concerted drive to implement policies that will boost other income earning channels for the nation. The roadmap to a non-oil based economy must be put at the front-burner in all our projections for the future. Furthermore, technocrats and Nigerians in diaspora must be encouraged to play their part in this restructuring process. In the light of the direction that most strong economies in the world today have taken; Nigeria must invest in research and develop concrete and sustainable channels that will grow our GDP.

Mascot Uzor Kalu is a Prominent Investment Banker and Former Chief of Staff to the Abia State Governor

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