Home Economy Roundtable on Potential for Nigeria’s Service Sector for Economic Diversification, Employment and Foreign Trade

Roundtable on Potential for Nigeria’s Service Sector for Economic Diversification, Employment and Foreign Trade

by Isiyaku Ahmed

Isiyaku Ahmed

Stakeholders in the Nigerian services sector and non-oil exporters will converge on Thursday, December 3, 2020 for a roundtable on harnessing the potential of the Nigerian services sector for economic diversification, employment and foreign trade.

Traditionally, less emphasis has been placed on the services sector in cross-border trade, however, this attitude is fast changing across developing countries, including Nigeria.

Developing countries are fast gaining better understanding of the crucial roles of services in economic diversification, growth of other sectors and efficient functioning of the overall economy.

According to Dr Titilola Akindeinde, PDF Bridge Programme Manager, “The services sector has emerged as the highest contributor to the national output in the last decade and offers great potential to drive the diversification agenda of the government.”

She added that bearing in mind that this sector possesses immense capacity to absorb a large proportion of unemployed youths and help create gender parity in exploiting economic opportunities, it has become imperative that Nigeria as a nation should explore ways to expand its export of services.

PDF Bridge commissioned a study under its predecessor programme to analyse the potential of Nigeria’s Services Sector for Economic Diversification, Employment and Foreign Trade. The study came up with actionable recommendations that if implemented will help to shape government policies to promote the sector, she added.

According to Dr Akindeinde, the study was part of the programme’s contribution towards providing technical support to the Government of Nigeria’s priority areas on diversification of the economy and reforming the business environment to enable small and medium-sized enterprises to thrive sustainably.

“This roundtable themed, Analysis of Potentials of Nigeria’s Services Sector for Economic Diversification, Employment and Foreign Trade, will critically dissect the issues highlighted in the study with a view to developing an action plan that will ensure adequate attention is given to the services export sector.

We are looking forward to having robust discussions with the invited participants drawn from both the private and public sectors”, she remarked.

The roundtable seeks to engage relevant public and private sectors stakeholders on how best to apply the rich content and recommendations from the PDF supported study, “Analysis of Potentials of Nigeria’s Services Sector for Economic Diversification, Employment and Foreign Trade”, to promote diversification and non-oil sector development in Nigeria.

According to Barr Okpala, Nkiru Joy the National Coordinator for Nigerian Network of Women Exporters of Services, “Service Sector is indeed, a huge catalyst for growth and Service Export is the fastest growing sector in the global economy. Even the Manufacturing, Agricultural, and other Sectors cannot exist nor be in the export market effectively without interconnecting with the service sector”.

It, therefore, becomes imperative that for us to grow the economy and drive the nation out of recession once again, service export should be one roadmap to enhance she added.

She further remarked, “Indeed, Services constitute the most dynamic area of national growth and sustenance. It creates high turnover of employment, offering significant opportunities both in terms of increased exports and at enhancing competitiveness, stimulating economic development and reducing poverty”.

According to Dr Olumuyiwa Alaba, PDF Bridge Trade Policy Expert, services now contribute the highest proportion of the overall domestic activities and economic growth moving from less than 30 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in the 1990s to 50.79 percent of the GDP in 2010.

Despite this huge possibility, the sector contributes only a little to Nigeria’s basket of external trade. This shows that there is the need to translate the huge potentials of the services sector to major foreign exchange earner by paying adequate attention to the sector.

This round table could not have come at a better time. I look forward to the deliberations, he added.

The largely ignored services sector possesses immense capacity to absorb a large proportion of unemployed youths and gender parity in exploiting economic opportunities. Both formal and informal trade in services create significant opportunity for inclusive growth and poverty reduction.

Trade in services may also be a significant component of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) when implementation of the agreement commences. Nigeria has been recognized as a country that could benefit maximally from AfCFTA services trade given the status as the country with the highest services trade potential in the continent.

This roundtable will bring together Trade related Government MDAs and other relevant stakeholders who will use the evidence provided from the study to establish an environment that enhances competitive production and trade in services. It shall also provide information to private sector investors on available opportunities in the services sector and how to exploit such benefits.

The objectives of the roundtable are to: To provide the forum for relevant stakeholders to discuss the findings from the Services Export study and the best approach to utilize the output from the study to support diversification efforts of the government of Nigeria; through the discussions, generate recommendations on necessary reforms, process restructuring, and elimination of various challenges identified in the study, if possible, provide an action plan to prioritize and implement the recommendations provided in the study.

According to Titilope Ojo, PDF Bridge Exporter Voices lead, Trade in services is a significant component of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which will commence soon given that Nigeria has ratified.

Nigeria has been recognized as a country that could benefit maximally from AfCFTA services trade given the status as the country with the highest services trade potential in the continent. The Services export has huge potentials that cannot be overlooked.

We have invited key stakeholders drawn from Government agencies, the private sector and trade associations to deliberate on the way forward.

We look forward to the actionable policies that will emanate from the deliberations.

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