Vice President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday said the government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) Focus Labs has identified more than $22.5 billion in private investments from about 164 projects aimed at creating over 500,000 jobs.
These have the capability to unlock the Nigerian economy, he added.
Prof. Osinbajo spoke at the ERGP Focus Labs Open Day at the International Conference Centre in Abuja.
The Vice President said the identified projects are expected to create 513, 981 jobs by 2020.
He added that the outcome of the six-week Focus Labs, which was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari on March 13, showed that $10.9 billion of investments “are what we call ‘Most Ready’ projects, that is we are almost sure to unlock these projects and accelerate their delivery by the private sector.
“These projects are forecast to create more than half a million new permanent jobs for the people of Nigeria up till the year 2020, demonstrating the far-reaching impact of the ERGP Focus Labs in unleashing a brighter future for our country,” he said.
He said the focus labs were designed to accelerate the implementation of the ERGP and that during the six weeks, participants of the labs, made up of both public and private sector representatives, rigorously drilled down the issues with the projects presented, and brain-stormed on how to resolve these issues, and the bureaucratic reforms needed to fast-track development.
The vice president restated the government’s commitment to ensure the completion of the ERGP.
“Given the overwhelming interest of the private sector in this initiative, and the clamour for more Labs, we are very clear in ensuring that the ERGP Focus Lab would not just be an isolated episode,” he said.
Osinbajo said the Central Steering Committee, which he chairs, would continue to meet regularly to address bottlenecks the hinder seamless business operations, while a standing committee of permanent secretaries in about seven ministries, supported by private sector experts, has been mandated to ensure that the key implementation decisions made during the Lab are followed through to implementation.
Minister of Budget and National Planning Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, said the focus labs were conducted in three sectors: agriculture and transportation; manufacturing and processing; as well as power and gas.
“Our target is to mobilise at least US$45billion or its equivalent in Naira,” he said.
Udoma said over 300 participants from 180 organisations were involved in the three labs, including relevant ministries, government agencies, authorities and private sector companies, for six weeks with 67,200 man hours completed.
He said 10 financial institutions, including the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the World Bank, the International Financial Corporations (IFC), the Bank of Industry, among others, were engaged during the focus labs.
Udoma said the labs could be replicated in the 36 states.
Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi said the administration should be commended for changing the economy from a rent culture to a productive economy.
According to him, importation has been reduced drastically, encouraging more production of farm products.
Amaechi said: “The ERGP was an eye opener on what drives the economy, when we talk about ERGP, it is not only about economy growth but sustenance of the economy growth.
“I continue to argue with my friends in politics, when they say we have caused hunger and I say no, we have rather brought food and I ask them what offence has President Buhari committed.
“And they will say no money in circulation, investors ran away and I tell them, they are not correct, that the only offence Mr President has committed is that:
“He is changing the economy from a rent culture to a production economy; the direction we are going now is to take away that rent culture to a productive economy.”
“We banned the importation of tomatoes to encourage those producing tomatoes in Kano and that makes it my responsibility to ensure that the narrow gauge line from Kano to Lagos functions properly, “ he said.
Amaechi said that the narrow gauge lines would begin properly in 2019, stating that the main agreement cost $45million for the interim phase and $2.7billion for the entire project.
He said that transportation alone would contribute $3.52 billion, which in turn would create 18,366 jobs in the staple and cash sub-sectors toward the overall ERGP investment.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Audu Ogbe said that ERGP focus labs had helped agriculture in the area of exportation and farm management.
He said previously Nigeria was importing agricultural products that they could have been exported; saying that in the last two years, agriculture export has increased to 180 per cent.
According to him, rice importation was brought down to 95 per cent even though there are still challenges with smugglers.
Ogbe said private investment in agriculture was the way to success, adding: “Government cannot own a farm, if they do, they will fail woefully.
“The key challenges facing agriculture today are access to credit, access to land, land analysis, land management, and security on farms.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the government launched the ERGP in 2017 to restore growth and provide strategic economic direction for the country from 2017-2020.