Skip to content

SME Guide

AfDB Chief Urges Nigerian Government to Prioritise Industrial Development

The African Development Bank’s Senior Special Adviser on Industrialization, Professor Oyebanji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, has proposed solutions to boost Nigeria’s industrial sector.

In a statement made available on Tuesday by the Nigerian Society of Chemical Engineers to celebrate Mr. Anthony Shobo’s 93rd birthday, Oyelaran-Oyeyinka emphasised the need for the government to support local companies and create an environment that would make them efficient and competitive.

During the public lecture titled ‘Why Nigeria’s Development Lags: Causes and Consequences of Premature Deindustrialization,’ he underscored the importance of investing in capabilities at the factory level. He defined deindustrialization by two metrics: falling employment in manufacturing as a share of total employment and a decline in the share of manufacturing value added to GDP.

“Efficient production and innovation in late-comer countries like Nigeria mean satisfying domestic demand, reducing imports, and developing capabilities for incremental processes and product changes. The focus of these activities should be on the factory floor of private sector industrial enterprises rather than formal R&D laboratories,” he said.

“Africa’s food and agribusiness sector is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2030. With 65 percent of the world’s uncultivated arable land, Africa has the potential to feed itself and export value-added food products globally. Investment in food processing and logistics is crucial.”

Oyelaran-Oyeyinka’s other recommendations included promoting manufacturing export capabilities as a source of growth, moving away from resource dependence, building capabilities for economic and industrial diversification, and using clustering and agglomeration as industrial policy instruments.

“One of the most effective strategies for rapid economic growth is accumulating export capability to drive sustained exports of manufactured goods, leading to foreign exchange earnings. African countries have long shortchanged themselves by exporting raw materials, which others use as a basis for wealth generation. Unlike advanced industrial countries, today’s mineral-rich African countries have failed to industrialise. Natural resource abundance is not inherently a curse or a blessing; it depends on the policies and institutional context,” he added.

“My emphasis today is on strategically promoting the rebuilding of industrial technological capabilities for manufacturing, both for the domestic market to reduce imports and for exports. Investing more in infrastructure and institutions that foster ease of doing business is essential. The ‘factory of national firms’ is the furnace where long-term fortunes are formed. The wealthiest nations have the strongest industrial capacities.”

Oyelaran-Oyeyinka expressed gratitude to Pa Sobo, whom he met 45 years ago during his brief stint at Lever Brothers. Although they didn’t know each other personally, Sobo insisted on Oyelaran-Oyeyinka’s recruitment due to his First-Class honours.

The National President of NSChE, Mr. Anthony Ogbuigwe, remarked, “The current situation, as aptly described in the lecture’s title, shows that we have de-industrialised, which is not commendable. Many of us started our careers in the manufacturing sector, but unfortunately, that sector has diminished. We must industrialise again and do so deliberately. It is not just about paying lip service but taking deliberate actions. The policies of our government must encourage this re-industrialization.”

The Chairman of the NSChE Lagos/Ogun Chapter, Mr. Olusegun Sodeinde, noted that the public lecture has always been used to celebrate the foremost chemical engineers who have made significant contributions to society, serving as a moment of reflection centred around a carefully chosen topic.

Born on May 26th, 1931, the celebrant, Engr. Anthony Olufemi Shobo, holds the distinction of being the first Nigerian Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers, a renowned global professional body.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *