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PHCCIMA Business Luncheon: Participants Express Confidence There Are Opportunities In Nigeria Beyond Oil

By PHCCIMA
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Following the shortfall in global oil prices and the crunchy effect on the Nigeria’s mono oil economy, stakeholders and analyst have expressed confidence there are business and economic opportunities in Nigeria beyond oil.

This was the staked consensus among representatives of government, participants and guests who attended a recent Business Luncheon organized by Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce at the Obi Wali International Conference centre in Port Harcourt. Key note speaker of the PHCCIMA Business Luncheon, and director of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group, Folusho Phillips, in his presentation dissected the opportunities inherent to establish thriving opportunities and strategies to drive the new Nigeria without oil. First he said the government and people of Nigeria must accept the reality that oil is truly gone and focus their energies 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 was never our main economic activity as it only represented 12% of our GDP and accounted for 72% of govt. revenue. Though he said it accounted for 96% of foreign exchange the risk was always obvious. Oil according to him made us lazy just like foreign aids so there is need to retrace our steps in the face of this dwindling oil economy.

“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 of it”, he said, stressing the need to review our value proposition, imbibe a razor sharp focus and increase our competences which ultimately will 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. As a country we need to change our attitude, have a well defined value proposition and alter our taste for foreign goods.

Similarly, we must invest in education, this has become necessary considering that the world is at its 4th industrial revolution while 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 in the light of the fact that no investor will invest in an unpredictable environment” he said, adding that there are huge opportunities beyond oil in the country.

Nigeria he said must think and ensure that they bring value to the global platform like Norway noted for shipping, fishing and seafaring, Canada mining, USA technology, South Africa mining and tourism, Japan efficiency and innovation and India intellectual capital. “We must begin to ask ourselves pertinent questions: What is our value proposition? What do we bring to the table? What is our comparative advantage? What is our competitive advantage? Now back to the home front Rivers stat, the state is imbued with thriving potentials especially in the area of water transportation. “Rivers state one of the leading states in the production of cassava, cocoyam, rice, maize, pineapples, mango, pawpaw, guava, beans, pepper and banana etc.

There are potentials in fishing, oil palm and rubber production; cocoa, arvengia, citrus and coconut and concluded that Life without oil must be more sober, reflective, productive, inclusive, innovative and creative. Change in attitude, values and taste will be required and more importantly reviewing our value proposition. Earlier, President, Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce Mines and Agriculture (PHCCIMA), 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 effort to stimulate the economy.

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

The PHCCIMA helmsman also added that 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 urged 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 sub theme; 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 plaque to the Rivers state Governor, Nyesom Wike the keynote speaker, Folusho Phillips and SA to the Rivers state governor on investment, Isaac Okemini by the PHCCIMA President.