Nigerian Federal Government should be commended for putting the spotlight on local manufacturers through initiatives such as the Made-in-Nigeria Dress Days and an Executive Order compelling state agencies to direct at 40% of procurement to Made-in-Nigeria goods and services.
That’s according to Magnus Nmonwu, Regional Director for Sage in West Africa who says a strong government push to encourage Nigerians to support locally made goods and services will help encourage entrepreneurship. This, in turn, could help spur diversification of the economy, create local jobs, and decrease unemployment. Made-in-Nigeria resonates with the theme of Africa Day (25 May)—“Building a better Africa and a better world”.
“Local service providers and manufacturers could play an important role in the revival of Nigeria’s economy,” he adds. “We welcome the effort to encourage industrialisation and diversify the economy from commodities into new areas. Strong local demand is the foundation of a manufacturing sector that can grow into an export industry.”
Government is putting its money where its mouth is with its Executive Order and giving the public a good example to follow, says Nmonwu. However, there is scope for the public sector to do more to encourage the growth of small businesses in Nigeria, including tax incentives for local producers, support in accessing finance, and facilitating mentoring and skills development programmes between small business and bigger companies.
Government should encourage small businesses to adopt business software so that they can improve regulatory compliance and financial controls. This could also help in tracking the performance of those that benefit from state loans and incentives, and hold them accountable, says Nmonwu.
Infrastructure investment across roads, power, communications and ports are also important in spurring development of local industry, Nmonwu says. “There is enormous scope for government and the private sector to cooperate on creating polices and infrastructure that create an enabling environment for Nigeria’s business builders.”
Sage would support initiatives to put business information and tools online to help entrepreneurs build their skills and access the resources they need to be successful. Another good idea might be for government to put together advisory boards with representatives from big businesses, small companies, the government and other stakeholders to understand the voice of small business and develop appropriate policies to help drive them.
“Small businesses and start-ups are the engines that will power Nigeria’s growth into the future,” Nmonwu says. “The sooner we start supporting our proudly Nigerian suppliers and service providers, the better for us. With our support, they can create wealth and jobs for the country, and many of them could grow into globally competitive exporters.”