Production, not consumption can help achieve SDG-9

According to the Bureau of Statistics on Industrial development in Nigeria, over half of the gross domestic product (GDP) is accounted for by the primary sector with agriculture continuing to play an important role. The oil and gas sector, in particular, continues to be a major driver of the economy, accounting for over 95 per cent of export earnings and about 85 per cent of government revenue between 2011 and 2012. The sector contributed 14.8 and 13.8 per cent to GDP in 2011 and 2012, respectively.  Generally, the United Nations statistics shows that in developing countries, small-scale industries accounted for an estimated 15 per cent to 20 per cent of value added and 25 per cent to 30 per cent of total industrial employment in 2015. However, access to reliable, affordable and resilient innovation, industrialization and infrastructure remains a problem.

The Sustainable Development Goal 9 aims at three important aspects that can aid sustainable development: infrastructure, industrialization and innovation. Infrastructure provides the basic physical systems and structures essential to the operation of a society or enterprise. Industrialization drives economic growth, creates job opportunities and thereby reduces income poverty. Innovation advances the technological capabilities of industrial sectors and prompts the development of new skills. These aspects of the goal requires the commitment of the government, private and public stakeholders and investors for it to impact the growth of the country’s economy.

According to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), technological progress is a key foundation of efforts to achieve environmental objectives, such as increased resource and energy-efficiency, adding that without technology and innovation, industrialization will not happen, and without industrialization, development will not happen. “Investments in infrastructure – transport, irrigation, energy and information and communication technology – are crucial to achieving sustainable development and empowering communities in many countries. It has long been recognized that growth in productivity and incomes, and improvements in health and education outcomes require investment in infrastructure”, UNIDO stated.

A major aspect of infrastructural development are road and transportation. Although these basic infrastructure remain inadequate in Nigeria, their availability can promote economic growth. Infrastructural development in these two areas will indeed help to achieve a target of SDG 9 to develop quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and trans-border infrastructure, to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all. In particular, infrastructural development in these areas will also play a critical enabler role; increasing the impact of nearly all other sectors of the economy.

Nigeria needs to invest not only in infrastructure but also in innovation which is also a crucial driver of economic growth and development; especially as new industries, information and communication technologies are becoming important drivers of the Nigerian economy. Apparently, it was in the light of this that on 22 May 2016, Nigeria’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Okechukwu Enelamah, said that Nigeria needed the support of UNIDO to successfully implement its industrialization plans, policies and programmes to achieve economic diversification, poverty reduction, employment generation and wealth creation. “We need the support of international developmental agencies like UNIDO to implement our economic diversification plans, policies and programmes, including the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan. UNIDO has the technical expertise and global interconnectivity so they can help us connect the dots,” He said.

Despite efforts by the Nigerian government to advocate the use of local contents in the manufacturing sector, provide financial facilities for Medium and Small Scale Enterprises, and establish initiatives such as “Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan” (NIRP), the country’s level of development in the key areas of sustainable development seems low. This indicates that Nigeria still needs to do more to move from selling just raw materials, and move into more value-added manufacturing activities. The country can and must produce what its population consumes. The more a country specializes in the production of raw materials only, the poorer it becomes because Industry multiplies National wealth. In fact, no country has ever become rich by exporting raw materials without also having an industrial sector, and in modern terms an advanced service sector.

Therefore, as Nigeria aspires to join the league of developed nations worldwide, and as it aspires to achieve the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 9, the nation needs to move from being a consumer to being a producer.

Written by Ms Ifeoluwa Akinola (An intern)