PHCCIMA Business Luncheon: Participants In Consensus There Is Opportunities Beyond Oil

By Anderson Hart

There has been staked consensus among representatives of government, participants and guests who recently attended the Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce business luncheon that in spite of global shortfall in oil prices there is huge economic and business opportunities in the country beyond oil, even as Nigeria’s over dependence on oil is said to have taken a toll on the country’s economy.

Among those affirming this assertion was the key note speaker at the Port Harcourt business luncheon, and director of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group, Folusho Phillips, who said there is life beyond oil but the Nigerian government must accept the reality that oil is truly gone and focus their energy to developing vigorously comparative advantage and competences that will drive the economy and make up for years of dependence on oil.

Oil according to him made us lazy even though it accounted for about 12% of our economy, and was responsible for 96% of our forex exchange. “In comparable to other nations, Nigeria depended on oil on the scale of 14% as against Kuwait’s 65%, Saudi Arabia’s 45% and Iran’s 26%, so there was no need to panic and resign our fate because the situation is not as bad as we make it look”, he said, stressing the need to review our value proposition, imbibe a razor sharp focus and increase our competences which will ultimately should translate to comparable advantage for us.

“The good news in the scenario playing out is that Nigeria has a vibrant emerging middle class, bustling population and demographic like China, long stretch of arable land for Agriculture among others but as a country we need to change our attitude, have a well defined value proposition and alter our taste for foreign goods. We must invest in education, this has become necessary because the world is at its 4th industrial revolution but Nigeria is yet to go through the first, we must review our judiciary, police and other strategic government institutions and have an effective and efficient macro- economic environment that will enhance financial stability because no investor will invest in an unpredictable environment, and once again affirmed that there is huge opportunities beyond oil in the country.

Earlier, President, Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce Mines and Agriculture (PHACCIMA), Dr. Emi Membere Otaji, said Nigerian economy has been over stressed as a result of over dependence on the Oil sector and called for urgent diversification.

He expressed strong faith on Nigeria saying real opportunity exist for Nigeria to inject new dynamism into its economy through a productivity- and investment-led transformation and diversification of the economy to help ensure future growth, employment, and prosperity, adding that the country can no longer rely on oil revenue in the face of a changing global energy market.

The PHCCIMA helmsman said faster productivity growth requires better business regulation and more openness to competition, trade, and investment, diversification to agriculture and solid minerals, Improved efficiency of spending and new revenue sources, possibly including taxes, and stressed the need for Government to embark on massive sensitization and education of investors on the ease of doing business in the State.

The governor of Rivers state, Chief Barr Nyesom Ezenwo Wike represented by his Deputy Dr. Mrs Ipalibo Harry Banigo and the SA to the governor on Investment, Mr Isaac Okemini were on the same page assuring investors of an enabling environment for businesses to thrive and pointing out that the security challenges are being tackled with the support of security Agencies to ensure the protection of life and property throughout the State.

The governor lauded the leadership of PHCCIMA for providing a platform for discussion, with the theme: Business Opportunities in Nigeria, Beyond oil and The Ease of Doing Business in Rivers State, pledging to collaborate with the body to ensure that the State returns to its former glory as investors’ haven.

Highlight of the event was the unveiling of the Commerce Port Harcourt Magazine by the Deputy Governor and an award of Excellence to Governor Wike and the keynote speaker, Folusho Phillips by PHCCIMA.