A Professor of Industrial Economics at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Margaret Abiola Loto, has stressed the need for the Nigerian government to focus on developing the manufacturing sector to facilitate development in other sectors of the economy
She made the call while delivering the 23rd Inaugural Lecture in the 2021/2022 Academic Session of UNILAG titled: ‘Manufacturing: The Roadmap to Sustainable Development (The Missing Link)’.
During her lecture, she pointed out the reasons behind the industry’s failure to perform its role as the bedrock to economic growth and sustainable development in Nigeria.
Her queries revealed that the manufacturing sector was not exposed to the manufacture of intermediate and capital goods that can produce other goods.
She further posited that if policymakers could focus on righting the wrong policies, target these right policies at the right aspects of the economy and improve upon aiming for the right timing for such policies, there would be considerable improvement in the nation’s sustainable development.
While Professor Loto focused her research on how the sector can come out of the abyss, she made several notable recommendations.
She recommended that investments should be made in core manufacturing industry.; stressing that if Nigeria can invest in just one of the core manufacturing industries (e.g., iron & steel industry, petrochemical, rolling mills etc.) and successfully develop it to operate at full capacity, the nation will never lack.
With vivid descriptions she expatiated on how Nigeria can benefit from investing in the iron & steel industry.
She also recommended that Nigeria should adopt a Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based (SMART) productivity strategy.
According to her, creating a simple, focused plan with clear steps and outcomes will help individuals (workers and consumers), business leaders, and analysts including policymakers and government statisticians know exactly what to do, stay on task and set them up for success.
She said, “Research and development must originate from universities through funding and conducive environment; waste should be prevented and recycling encouraged; local sourcing of raw materials must be strongly encouraged while education must be respected because education is key, education is power and knowledge. For public policy to be meaningful and properly interpreted, education must be strengthened ”
Professor Loto firmly believed that once the recommendations she made are put in place, “even though they do not address the root cause of inefficiencies in the sector, there will be room for productivity improvement in manufacturing; and that with such improvement, there will be room for more employment of labour and capital, an increase in capacity utilisation, a healthy balance of payment position, a better competitive edge in the international market and reasonable foreign exchange earnings that can cater for the import bill of the sector.