The upcoming 26th Nigerian Economic Summit, with the theme: “Building partnership for resilience”, will provide an opportunity for a big conversation by the public and private sector stakeholders on the state of the economy, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, has said.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday prelude to the holding of the 26th Summit in Abuja from October 26-27, 2020, Ahmed stated that stakeholders would reflect on the state of the economy, rethink the country’s economic fundamentals and deliberate on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to her, “Even as the architecture of the post COVID-19 economy has yet to evolve, it is important Nigeria’s top policy makers and business leaders proactively converge and engage to address the key questions that presently confront the country.
“The summit will, therefore, emphasize the urgency to strengthen multi-stakeholders’ alliances between governments and businesses in co-creating a national strategy that will usher Nigeria into the decade of action.”
She described the Summit as timely against the backdrop of the current effort by the Federal Government to develop the new Medium-term National Development Plans (MTNDPs 2021-2025 &2026-2030) and the Nigerian Agenda 2050.
The minister said there were 26 Technical Working Groups, Central Working Group and the Steering Committee committed to the process.
“The process is consultative, participatory and inclusive, involving all the segments of the society and covering all the sectors of the economy. The Plans are to address development challenges in all aspects of the country’s national life and will be driven by the Organised Private Sector while the government creates the enabling environment to facilitate growth and development and aligned to the continental Agenda (AU Agenda 2063) and Global Agenda (Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 2030.
“The MTNDP 2021-2025 is expected to be formally launched in December, 2020 while the Nigeria Agenda 2050 will be finalized in July 2021,” she stated.
Explaining that the Nigerian Economic Summit is organized annually by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) and the Federal Government of Nigeria represented by the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Ahmed stated that “the Summit which is a replica of the World Economic Forum has been acknowledged as a veritable platform for dialogue between the leaders of public and private sectors.
“The Forum is an opportunity for interaction, experience sharing and building consensus on contemporary economic issues in Nigeria. It also brings together development partners, the civil society and representatives of the academia as well as provides participants the unique opportunity to interact on issues of national development while evolving a common strategy and policy framework for addressing them.”
According to her, “The Summit has over the years helped to shape many of the reform policies underpinning the evolution of our economic growth and development.”
She said that the 25th Summit, focused on “Nigeria 2050: Shifting Gears”, pointing out that “Shifting Gears emphasized the imperatives for the country to move to a more robust competitive private sector economy while discussing the implication of the projected population of the country hitting over 400 million by 2050 with 65% of the population under the age of 35.”
The minister said this year’s Summit would be an opportunity to mobilize all Nigerians to take responsibility and catalyze a future in which sub-national economies would drive Nigeria’s sustainable economic growth, development, and competitiveness in partnership with the private sector.
“It is expected that the outcome of the Summit will articulate clear and decisive actions aimed at building partnerships for resilience that will put Nigeria in a strong and competitive position among comity of nations.
“The 2020 edition will be hybrid, a combination of physical and virtual participation in adherence to the COVID-19 protocols. We have made considerable progress in our preparations and the Summit would be anchored on plenary, CEO roundtable, briefings, workshops, co-labs, re-modelled pitching events and high-level panel discussions. Key outcomes of past Summits and their impact on the Nigerian Economy will also be reviewed,” she stated.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, continued: “This year’s Summit will be underpinned by three Pillars: collaboration, execution, and impact. These pillars will run through all the sessions at the Summit with a strong emphasis on reinforcing the role of sub-nationals as the frontiers of economic growth and development as we build a more inclusive and sustainable economy under the following Sub-themes: Mapping the future; New Trends, New Opportunities, New Horizons; Embracing Technology and Innovation; Building Resilience; and, Charting the Path to Recovery.
“At this juncture, let me say that to ensure a competitive economy, we must have stable macroeconomic conditions and business climate that will keep transaction costs low, drive savings, investment and job creation. This is where the role of the government becomes critical in ensuring enabling policies and strategies are in place for the private sector to excel.”
She declared that” at the national level, the closure of the land borders, is one of the boldest decisions ever taken by any administration to curb insecurity, smuggling and kidnapping. This has in a positive way impacted Nigeria as we are closer to attaining self-sufficiency in rice production than at any point in time in the country’s history. This spillover effect is also evident in other sectors such as manufacturing, livestock amongst others. This also provides an opportunity for the private sector to leverage increased local content and expand their businesses.
“The effective implementation of government policies enabled Nigeria to move 15 places to 131st in 2020 from 146th in 2019 position on the ease of doing business ranking of the World Bank. Government is also working on operational, regulatory and legislative interventions to enable the country move to the top 100 on ease of doing business ranking.
“Nigerian governments across all levels will continue to initiate business-oriented policies and ensure adequate commitment to their implementation. As the nation awaits the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, the Finance Act and the Companies and Allied Matters Act (Repeal and Re-enactment) recently signed by Mr. President will transform the business environment and re-energize the private sector as the engine of growth of the economy.”
Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba said this year’s NES was unique as it was being hosted at a point when Nigeria and the world were passing through a challenging period due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to him, “It is hoped that the outcome of the Summit will further help enrich government’s plans in ensuring that the impact of the pandemic on the economy and the citizens is minimised.
“In this regards, relevant recommendations of the NES#26 will be mainstreamed into the Medium and Long-Term Plans currently being developed by the Ministry and all the critical stakeholders including the subnational Governments, Private Sector operators, Civil Society Organisations, Women and Youth Organisations and Development Partners.
“With this assemblage of Nigerians from various works of life, the Plan preparation process is designed to be participatory, inclusive and consultative. The outcome will be a national plan which has the ownership of all critical stakeholders and also implementable by various levels of government working closely with the Private Sector.”
Chair of Nigerian Economic Summit Group, Mr Asue Ighodalo, in his opening remarks said the NESG remained committed to sustaining its partnership with the Federal Government of Nigeria to ensure “we avoid a prolonged economic recession, improve the response-readiness of our healthcare systems, cushion the economic impact of the pandemic on businesses, avert structural unemployment (especially for our youth), ensure the free movement of goods and services across borders, strengthen our fiscal framework, unlock supply chains as well as expand our digital infrastructure.”
He said the NES#26, jointly convened with the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, was anchored on the partnership imperative and “we are grateful; to the Minister and Minister of State for sustaining this collaborative relationship on behalf of the Federal Government.”