Okechukwu Enelamah

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, on Wednesday said the Economic Growth and Recovery Plan (EGRP) is targeted towards creating an average of 3.7 million jobs yearly.

He said the jobs will be created through robust investment in infrastructure and industrialisation which will create more job opportunities.

The minister said the focus of the job creation efforts will be youth employment and ensuring that youth are the priority beneficiaries.

“…The involvement of small businesses in the service sector is a major lever for economic recovery. We have committed to reduce unemployment from 13.9 per cent as of Q3 2016 to 11.23 per cent by 2020. This translates to the creation of over 15 million jobs during the Plan horizon or an average of 3.7 million jobs per annum,” Mr Enelamah said at a youth entrepreneurship summit.

The summit held in Abuja was organised by Technoserve, a United States-based non-governmental organisation in partnership with Citi Foundation.

While declaring the summit themed “Youth Entrepreneurs as Drivers for Economic Growth” open, Mr Enelamah said the ERGP represents the first blueprint by “this administration to not only deal with the present economic meltdown, but also to ensure growth in the medium term.

“The EGRP envisages average GDP growth rate of 4.62 per cent per annum over the plan period. GDP is expected to gradually turn positive in 2018 and peak at 7 per cent per annum by 2020.”

According to the minister, ease of doing business is another area that received the plan’s attention.

“My ministry has been in the forefront of the efforts to make it easier for everyone (local and international investors) to do business in Nigeria. When we came into government, Nigeria was ranked No. 169 out of 190 countries. Nigeria is now ranked 145th position out of 190 countries in the Ease of Doing Business index for 2018.

The plan envisages improved ranking to around No 100 within the plan period.”

President Muhammadu Buhari in April 2017 unveiled a four-year ERGP (2017-2020) to help propel the country towards the path of development and growth.

ERGP is an economic plan that builds on the 2016 Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) by restoring growth, investing in people and build a global competitive economy.

While some Nigerians remained optimistic that the plan will succeed, others said it is not comprehensive enough.

The present economic templates being used do not have the ability to address the unique needs of Nigerians at present, American business magnate, Bill Gates said of the ERGP few months ago when he visited the country.

He said the ERGP identifies “investing in our people” as one of three “strategic objectives” but the “execution priorities” do not fully reflect people’s needs, “prioritising physical capital over human capital”.

“What Bill Gates was talking about was the budgetary allocation to create more money that will go into things like healthcare and education of which we agreed but we need to create the revenue first before we can send them back to the social sector,” the minister said while taking questions from journalists.

“ERGP envisages that if you invest in infrastructure, it will help create jobs and revenue for you to be able to invest in health and education. I don’t think our views and that of Gates is in conflict, it’s a matter of sequencing, they go hand in hand. We hold a stronger view of investing heavily on infrastructure so that we create opportunity for people while also working in the social sectors, healthcare and education in partnership with the likes of Technoserve, Gates foundation and others.”

He said the government is partnering with Technoserve by providing the enabling environment for the youthto thrive.

“Technoserve is doing a very good work in improving livelihood of youtharound Nigeria and Africa. The partnership is to leverage technology and ‘know how’ to help our people be empowered. We have to create the enabling environment and policies to make these things work. That is where we come in.”

Larry Umunna, Technoserve country director, in his remark said the event marks the end of the two-and-half year project funded by Citi foundation which saw to the training and empowerment of about 500 youthin Abuja and Enugu.

“This summit also provides us the opportunity to discuss issues that affect youth entrepreneurship in Nigeria, the idea is to discuss issues affecting youthand how we can help to reduce the scourge of youth employment.”

He listed various empowerment projects carried out by the organisation.

Beneficiaries also shared experiences on how they were trained on best business practices, record keeping skills and financial management skills required to successfully run a business.

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