In a thought-provoking breakfast forum organised by the Nigeria-South Africa Chamber of Commerce (NSACC), key industry experts shed light on Nigeria’s economic outlook, microeconomic developments and emerging business opportunities in the country. Sponsored by Stanbic IBTC Bank, a subsidiary of Stanbic IBTC Holdings, the event brought together a diverse panel of eminent industry experts who shared insights and actionable guidance, fostering an impactful learning session for all attendees.
Flagging the forum open at Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos, Ajibola Olomola, Vice Chairman of the NSACC, articulated the forum’s objective. It aimed to dissect intricacies of the global economy, with a focus on deciphering current nuances and harnessing technological advancements for macroeconomic development and business opportunities.
Olomola underscored the vital role of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria’s economy.
- “SMEs are the engine of growth in the economy, contributing over 50 per cent in employment and employing 78 per cent of the workforce.”
He emphasised the need for policy mechanisms that promote both local and international participation, essential for enhancing foreign exchange liquidity and supporting SMEs in navigating economic changes.
During the panel session, Muyiwa Oni, Head, Equity Research, West Africa, Standard Bank Group, noted several factors influencing Nigeria’s macroeconomic development including population growth, foreign exchange rates, widespread insecurity and challenges related to weak legacy infrastructure.
He expanded on the subject, noting that, “…despite the challenges in economic development, business opportunities remain underexplored.” He stressed the need for a comprehensive approach to addressing issues such as inflation, oil dependency, foreign exchange policies and widespread insecurity.
Another panelist, Seun Ogundolapo, Head, Trade, Transactional Banking, Stanbic IBTC Bank, delved into the challenge of foreign exchange rate devaluation, emphasising its critical role in international trade.
“Foreign exchange is the lifeblood of any economy, acting as a gateway for international trade and investment. Nigeria must focus on strategies that bolster FX liquidity, promote stability, and attract foreign investors to sustain economic growth and competitiveness in the global market,” Seun added.
The discussions at the session also addressed the agricultural sector’s significance in Nigeria’s economic growth, promoting sustainability and economic self-reliance through strategies like backward integration and infrastructure development which are pivotal to improving the sector’s resilience and competitiveness.
Folake Ademiluyi, Head, Power and Energy, Client Coverage, Stanbic IBTC Bank, who was also a panelist at the session commented on the recent fuel price hike and energy transition noting that, “the recent fuel price hike underscores the urgent need for a well-planned energy transition. Integrating sustainable and renewable energy sources into our energy mix will mitigate the impact of fuel price fluctuations and set us on a path towards a more resilient and eco-friendly energy future.”
She added that local companies must adopt a strategic, focused approach for import substitution to stimulate infrastructure support and energy transition and integration to achieve a safe and profitable investment environment. Folake submitted that now is the time to accelerate these strategies, ensuring business sustainability as well as energy affordability for the future.
While speaking at the session, Olajumoke Bello, Head, Enterprise Banking, Stanbic IBTC Bank, highlighted the importance of agriculture in economic growth and recognised the efforts of the government to drive value addition in the sector. She stressed that adopting suitable modalities will increase local production and reduce the dependency on importation.
While calling for enhanced revenue generation and improved livelihoods to achieve a thriving economy, Olajumoke emphasised the importance of a collaborative approach involving the private sector and the government in driving economic growth.
The event concluded with a collective vision to address economic challenges, encourage innovation, and foster adaptability in the business sector to achieve sustained growth and prosperity in Nigeria. The insights shared provided attendees with a comprehensive understanding of Nigeria’s economic landscape and strategies to navigate the evolving economic environment