The Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has said that Nigeria needs to create 5 million jobs for a decade to be able to tackle unemployment. Dr Okonjo-Iweala spoke when she met with captains of industry in Abuja on Tuesday.
“Nigeria must create jobs, especially for its young people,” she said.
She made a case for value-added manufacturing and urged captains of industry to pursue it.
The DG said economic growth in Nigeria has been sluggish since 2016 when oil prices tumbled globally.
“Nigeria’s economy is at a critical juncture. Insufficient structural change has made Nigeria more vulnerable to the shocks in the fall of oil prices five years ago and now it must grapple with the impact of the pandemic.
“The looming transition to a low carbon global economy implies more changes ahead,” she said.
She advised Nigeria to focus on careful economic planning and management for economic growth.
Dr Okonjo-Iweala said Nigeria has strong economic advantages in Africa, including comparative advantage in exportable services.
On transition to renewable energy, the DG said: “Nigeria can still negotiate for two to three decades transition period during which we can still use our petrol cars and ramp up capacity in renewable energy.”
The WTO said Africa imports over 90 per cent of its pharmaceuticals and urged captains of industry in Nigeria to invest in Pharmaceutical to be better positioned for the next pandemic.
The Chairman of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, urged the WTO to help Nigeria in its quest to make a mark in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
“One area you can help us with is at AfCTA. We need a lot of support from the WTO to make sure that it works.
“Right now, the biggest challenge that we have is that the regional markets are not really working.
“They work to a certain extent but a couple of them are not following the rules,” he said.
He said Nigeria needs to trade more with African countries to strengthen the economies of Africa and create jobs.
The top businessman said by this quarter or early next quarter, Nigeria will be the largest exporter of fertiliser in Africa.
“Our company will end up being nearly export-oriented. We will export excess cement, we will export petrochemicals.
“We will export urea. The only one we will not export is sugar, which under the leadership of the Honourable Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, we are doing massive backward integration to make sure if we don’t export, we will not import,” he said.