Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and industrialist Chief Tony Elumelu, on Tuesday set the tone for the growth of the country by suggesting capacity development for the energetic youth population of the country.

They gave the suggestion during the panel discussion at the 23rd National Economic Summit in Abuja. The discussion also featured the Chief Executive of General Electric in Nigeria, Mr John Rice.

According to Osinbajo, the MSME clinics held in different parts of the country were targeted at youth entrepreneurs to address the fundamentals in the economy and ensure inclusive growth.

Osinbajo stated that government had initiated series of reforms in the economic sector including the need to open a single window for customs clearance for imports and exports but noted that more needed to be done.

He said government also tried to eliminate layers of bureaucracy to make businesses easier and enhance the country’s competitiveness.

He also said that efforts had been made to address local content in all sectors of the economy adding that while the oil and gas sector was not personnel intensive the incremental jobs created by the value chain were important.

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He said while power generation had reached 7,000MW, the distribution was epileptic due to poor metering by the distribution companies which would soon be unlocked.

He said government was doing off the grid systems in Ariaria (Abia), Shomolu (Lagos) and Kano to improve power supply.

“What we are doing in infrastructure is important and we want to also complete the roads, railways.

“We are also focusing on Customs and agro-allied industries.’’

He said regulatory agencies and MDAa were being encouraged to meet the business development timelines adding that very soon a new chief executive would be appointed for NAFDAC and mandated to fasten products registration.

Elumelu chairman of UBA Plc and Heirs Holding , said localisation was synonymous with growth of the SMEs.

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According to him for the country to grow the economy, it must focus on SMEs and ensure that the youth were captured in the inclusive growth.

“Localisation should seek to integrate all and create jobs and we need to see growth that is beyond paper work,’’ he stated.

Elumelu, who also chairs the Tony Elumelu Foundations, observed that progress was made in the Ease of Doing business programme but that a lot needed to be done.

He explained that tax issues, power supply, transportation difficulties and business registration problems should be eliminated for rapid industrialization and economic growth.

“We can’t make progress if there is no electricity; government needs to attract more investors in power.

“If we fix electricity in the country, we fix most of the issues and this country will take off fully,’’ he added.

He also suggested that the National Assembly should complement the work of the Executive via legislations that could facilitate economic growth.

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On power supply, he suggested that government should still inject funds into it and mandate the private sector in charge of distribution and generation to divest its shares to enable more investors to come in and revive the sector.

The Chief Executive of GE, Mr Rice, described Nigeria as attractive in business due to its large population and vibrancy of the youth adding “this is a great country with great potential’’.

He stated that to attract investors, adequate improvement was needed in power supply as “you cannot have sustainable growth without electricity.’’

He said that while the government tried to perform its role in business development, the private sector should also do its part.

Nigerian pilot reports that the theme of the summit is “Opportunities, Productivity and Employment: Actualizing the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan’’.(NAN)


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