On Tuesday, March 7, 2017, the federal government released its economic blueprint, the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan(ERGP).

The Plan, which is a medium – term plan for 2017-2020 builds on the Strategic Implementation Plan which was developed for the 2016 budget.

The Plan is focused on restoring economic growth, building a globally- competitive economy and investing in Nigeria by driving social inclusion, job creation, youth empowerment and improved human capital.

Way ahead of the launch of the ERGP, the minister of industry, trade and investment, Dr Okechukwu Enelamah, had re emphasised the need for a paradigm shift in the economic management of the country using the instrumentality of the mandate of the Federal Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment.

Enelamah ministry is thus saddled with the responsibility of fulfilling the targets and goals of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.

From the onset, the ministry developed three core pillars and five fundamental enablers to enable her achieve her mandate in-line with the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

These pillars include; implementation of the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP), supporting the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and the Digitalisation of the Nigerian economy.

On the other hand, the foundational enablers are; the establishment of an enabling Business Environment (EBE);Development of Special Economic Zones (SEZ);Establishment of a 21st Century Trade/Free Trade Agreement;Attracting Investment and Foreign Investment; and Institutionalising the structure Reform and Agenda (SRA).

Guided by the change mantra of the Buhari administration and the core mandate of the ministry, the ministry spearheaded the creation of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) aimed at removing constraints and bottlenecks in doing businesses in Nigeria and moving Nigeria up in the World Bank Ease-of- Doing Business rankings.

The PEBEC under the chairmanship of the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo with the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Okechukwu Enelamah as vice chairman, identified certain areas including the entry and exit of natural persons into Nigeria and ease of export.

The Council has completed a 60-day National Action Plan on these reforms some of which relate to visa on arrival,consolidated arrival and departure form, etc.

These reforms have yielded results as the World Bank’s Ease-of-Doing Business Report 2018, indicated that Nigeria moved up 24 places from 169th to 145th in the ranking of 190 countries. This is above the initial target of PEBEC to move Nigeria to at least 20 places in Ease-of-Doing Business Ranking. The World Bank also ranks Nigeria during the three years of the Buhari administration as one of the top 10 most improved economies in the world.

Online Registration Portal

In line with the reform of the Buhari’s administration, Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), one of the parastatals of the ministry commenced the process of speedy registration of companies through online platform and the external hosting of the Company Registration Portal (CRP) to enable seamless registration process.

The CRP is user-friendly and affords customers online and real time access to the service of the Commission from the comfort of their offices or homes. This has helped eliminate the manual submission of documents for new incorporation in all states offices. The time for stamping which normally takes about three to four days now takes seconds due to introduction of electronic stamping introduced by the Commission in collaboration with the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS).

The number of forms applicants had to complete while incorporating company business, name/corporate trustee has been consolidated into one form in line with the ease of doing business reforms.

Document upload was also deployed to help applicants complete registration process without coming to the Commission. This has saved time and money while the creation of public search window in the Commission’s website makes basic registration information available to members of the public at no cost.

Campaign On Made-in-Nigeria Products

The ministry  embarked on massive sensitisation of Nigerians to patronise Made-in-Nigeria products in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture. The hosting of a national press lunch to publicise the campaign through the media was launched in Abuja, Lagos and other commercial nerve centres of the country.

During the launch of the south – west campaign on Made-in-Nigeria products which took place in Lagos in December 2017, Hajiya Aisha Abubakar, Minister of State, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Industry said that encouraging the patronage of locally-made products was a deliberate policy to conserve foreign exchange and to boost business for Nigerian companies so they can employ more people and earn revenue.

According to her, the vision of the present administration is to import that which is absolutely necessary for production purposes and export only finished value- added products.

Abubakar said in order to ensure effective implementation of the vision, a committee has been constituted to handle monitoring, evaluation and reporting on the level of compliance by MDAs with the Executive Order 003 on the Ease of Doing Business and support for local content in public-private partnership by the federal government.

Implementation of the Nigeria

Industrial Revolution Plan (NRP)

With the coming on board of the present administration, focus was shifted from the oil to non-oil sector with the aim of diversifying the economy. The Industrial Revolution Plan was reinvigorated with establishment of the Nigeria Industrial Policy and Competitiveness Advisory Council  (NIPCAC) chaired by the vice president with minister Enelamah as vice chairman.

The Council was established to deliver the goals of the National Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) and NIRP by assisting government in formulating policies and strategies for accelerating the country’s industrialisation programme.

The ministry in collaboration with other relevant ministries developed a new policy which was approved in February, 2017, aimed at increasing local production of tomatoes required for fresh fruit consumption and processing, increasing local production of tomatoes concentrate and reducing post-harvest losses.

So far some domestic tomato processors have rolled out plans to boost processing capacity. Erisco Food Limited has laid the foundation stone for a new factory in Katsina State, while Savannah Integrated Farms has revived the Gombe Plant and Dansa Tomato Farms. It has also stepped up efforts to revive the Kano plant.

Owners of moribund plants are in the process of reactivating their facilities. New investors, both local and foreign have indicated interest in setting up tomato processing plants in the country. It is against this background

that Agriculture Services Limited as part of its efforts to establish a 75 MT Mini- processing Plant in Kadua, Katsina State government has started putting up mini- processing plants to significantly reduce post-harvest losses.

In addition, the Bank of Industry (BoI) has commenced the training of entrepreneurs on other ways of tomato processing in-line with the government’s new policy on boosting tomato production.

Also the National Council on Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (NCMEs) inaugurated in April 2017, is coordinating the achievements of all stakeholders in both the private and public sectors and guiding in the formulation of broad policies strategies to drive the holistic development of the MSMEs sub-sector in Nigeria.

Already, it has initiated and implemented the One-Local Government, One Product (OLGOP) Programme which is expected to generate over 4,900 new jobs. The Council had established three common facilities to help revamp SMEs in Nigeria. They are leather cluster in Sokoto;shoe making cluster in Aba, and shea butter processing cluster in Minna.

In addition, the National Enterprises Development Programme (NADEP), a scheme put in place by the ministry to fast-track the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) has trained over 19,000 youths across the country, while the implementation of the nationwide MSMEs clinic kicked off in Aba in January, 2017.

This is geared towards further aiding the growth of the micro, small and medium businesses in Nigeria. This clinic has been going round the 36 states of the country and part of its achievements is that it has served as a delivery tool for the development of MSMEs across Nigeria.

Further, the Growth and Empowerment (GEM) Initiative has identified 23 industrial cluster areas to support MSMEs with capacity development and launch of the big platform funding initiative to provide funding and training for MSMEs.

The Bank of Industry (BoI) has also supported the development of MSMEs with the disbursement of a total of N30.04 billion. This support is meant for 11,511 enterprises and this has led to the creation of an estimated 150,000 jobs. Through the Social Intervention Programme (Financial Inclusion), BoI disbursed a total of N24.84 billion to 377,662 micro-enterprises which cover the youths, market women, artisans, agricultural works, etc.

ERGP Focus Labs On

Manufacturing and Processing

The ministry along with its agencies participated in the six – week ERGP Focus Labs on manufacturing and processing from March 12 and April 22, 2018. The Focus Labs are in three selected areas within six critical sectors. The ministry and its agencies were involved in the manufacturing and processing labs in assessing and analysing the Entry Point Projects (EPPs).

They also served as a forum for detailed discussions and interactions to address some of the bottlenecks and inhibitions of additional business investments in the economy.

Indeed, the Focus Labs have provided a valuable platform for government to accelerate quick wins in private sector investment to create jobs and stimulate broad-based economic development in Nigeria.

Full-Service Technology-Enabled MSME Solution

Not relenting and consistent with its commitment to making the small and medium enterprises take their rightful place in the scheme of things, the federal government through  the ministry also embarked on developing a PPP project titled: “Technology-Enabled MSME Solution,” otherwise known as SME Portal. The PPP project to provide a unified single window platform for government services to SMEs whereby federal government policies on industry, trade and investment and ease of doing business can be implemented to help Nigerian businesses learn, grow and scale.