Africa’s number one richest man, Aliko Dangote, says Nigeria’s large domestic market has an incentive to import substitution and diversification of the domestic economy.
Speaking in Abuja at the Roundtable parley with the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, with the theme ‘Going for Growth 2.0’, the foremost industrialist said the Asian Tigers are focused on exports because of the size of their markets, hence they produce for outside markets.
Speaking further, the business mogul said with the size of Nigeria’s domestic market, our focus should be on import substitution, economic diversification and industrialisation so as to provide for the large domestic market and reduce the huge import bill, which stood at $47 billion as at 2019.
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He argued that if the nation can achieve 60 percent in import substitution and diversification, this will create millions of jobs and drive inclusive growth.
He further stated that agriculture and manufacturing sectors are some of the hubs around which the nation’s economic diversification should be hinged to achieve the goal of sustainable national development, adding that several countries have achieved industrialisation through backward integration.
“We can diversify the economy through agriculture and manufacturing. Manufacturing creates a lot of jobs, creates middle class and transforms families.
“These are the areas we need to focus on. But how do you diversify into manufacturing and make it an inclusive growth? You need to do more of backward integration or import substitution. Our economy is great because we have a local market.
“The economy of Asia is focused on exports. But we have a domestic market with about 200 million people apart from the ECOWAS market. Our import last year was almost $47 billion.
“It is not sustainable. We cannot have 200 million people growing at an average 2.7 percent and we are importing most of the things we consume.”
He, therefore, called for fast-tracking of import substitution, diversification and industrialisation of the economy and cautioned that the risks are huge if the economy is not diversified as import bills would continue to mount especially in the face of declining oil prices.
He added that if import substitution and economic diversification is fully implemented, revenue from taxation on produced goods will dwarf the one collected as import duties.