The Nigerian government has unveiled a new strategy known as the Focus Laboratories, to accelerate the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of the nation after recession of 2017.
The focus labs launched last week by President Muhammadu Buhari, are part of strategies being put in place to ensure the implementation of the ERGP for maximum result.
They are designed as closed-door investment platforms to identify and accelerate high-impact projects with significant impact on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and job creation.
The Focus Labs are being conducted in three selected areas of Agriculture and Transportation; Manufacturing and Processing, Power and Gas Supply, with the aim of accelerating investments and job creation in Nigeria.
Under the new initiative, both potential and existing investors, foreign and local who are interested in investing in any of the three areas, are to attend the closed-door sessions. Stakeholders from the public and private sectors are also expected to work together in a single environment to deliver practical and workable solutions to achieve the needed result.
These are needed to bring in private capital to finance projects across the country in order to achieve the three main objectives of the Focus Labs. These are new investments for critical projects, Job creation and resolution of complex inter-agency problems that inhibit private sector investment.
The Labs target six priority sectors, five execution priorities and 15 million jobs to be created by Ministries, Departments and Agencies, as well as State governments. They would be executed in three phases from now till the second quarter of this year, under the categories of Pre-Lab, Main Lab and Post Lab.
Focus labs have been successfully used in countries like Georgia and Malaysia to boost their economies. Perhaps, that explains why the Nigerian government approved over Four hundred million Naira for the payment of consultancy services to a Malaysian firm to facilitate the review of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) in the country for a period of three months. The amount also covers the cost of retaining the Malaysian consultants to conduct some pilot labs for the country.
President Buhari launched the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP, almost a year ago to combat the economic recession that engulfed the country in the second quarter of 2016. It was with a promise that his administration would be committed to the full implementation of the programme.
The four year Economic Growth Plan running from 2017 to 2020, is intended to restore economic growth while leveraging on the ingenuity and resilience of the Nigerian people. It has so far recorded remarkable progress leading to real GDP growth in the second quarter of 2017 indicating the nation’s exit from recession.
Consistent with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Buhari administration has pursued the ERGP with zeal, mapping out National Action Plans implemented by Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the government at all levels.
The successes achieved through all these economic initiatives have moved Nigeria up twenty four places in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index for 2018, upgrading her from the 169th position in the 2017 World Bank Report, to 145th position in the 2018 Report.
For the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan to succeed, the Nigerian government will require about two hundred and forty -five billion dollars for its execution.
The funds are expected to come in the ratio of four to one, with the private sector investments of over one hundred and Ninety-five billion dollars and the government investment of nearly Fifty billion dollars. The government is also expected to generate investments worth Twenty -Four billion dollars from the Focus Labs initiative.
To fast-track the attainment of the ERGP, therefore, the Focus Laboratories and other economic initiatives should be pursued vigorously by all citizens and stakeholders with total adherence to the principles of the rule of law.
The Ministry of Budget and National Planning which coordinates the implementation of the economic plan and other MDAs must show strong political determination and commitment in the implementation of the Focus Labs programme.
Nigerians on their part must show patriotism and support the efforts of the government by appreciating and patronising made in Nigeria goods and services. They should also cash in on the ease of doing business policy in the country to produce quality goods that can compete favourably in the international market.
This way, the Naira would be strengthened and the goals of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan would be achieved even before 2020.