The Federal Government is targeting $25 billion investment or its Naira equivalent in private investments from the first-ever Focus Labs to hold in the country, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, has disclosed.
The initiative, which is part of the government effort to boost local economy and creates employment, was launched on Tuesday by President Muhammadu Buhari in the nation’s capital.
Giving insights of government expectations from the labs which runs for the next six weeks, Senator Udoma said it will further drive quick delivery of some of the outcomes in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) and contribute to accelerating the growth momentum of the country.
According to the Minister, the labs will provides potential and existing investors, both foreign and Nigerian, who may be interested in investing in the country, access to opportunities in key three sectors.
He listed the sectors to include: Agriculture and Transportation, Manufacturing and Processing, and Power and Gas, which he said about 240 projects had already been screened for the labs.
He explained that the labs was necessary as a step towards ensuring the faster implementation of the ERGP, adding that its central objective is to bring in private capital to finance projects across the country.
“Our aim is, simply put, to raise the level of productivity in Nigeria,” he noted.
“We want more things to be grown in Nigeria. We want more things to be processed and manufactured in Nigeria. We want more jobs to be created in Nigeria. That is what the focus labs are all about.
“We will be having various economic agents (public and private) including industry leaders, subject matter experts, domestic and international funding agencies etc. interfacing in the labs to find practical solutions to the issues raised, breakdown silos, ensure alignments and secure commitment for financing and implementation.
“The Labs are workshop-style arrangements with intense open debates and an “all hands-on deck” approach, and with a number of syndications to arrive at radical, practical and innovative solutions.
“The initial labs will be conducted in three areas, namely, Agriculture and Transportation, Manufacturing and Processing, and Power and Gas. These are reflective of the execution priorities of the ERGP.
“The objective is to achieve new investments for critical projects and to resolve inter-agency problems that may inhibit, or slow down, private sector investments in the selected sectors.”
Speaking on the target, the Minister said government required multiples of the $25bn, or its Naira equivalent of new investments to create enough jobs to address the unemployment challenges facing the country, noting that more labs to draw investments into the economy are in the offing.
“Many have asked whether we are not being too ambitious in targeting US$25 billion. My answer is that we have no choice. We actually need multiples of US$25 billion, or its equivalent in Naira, of new investments to create enough jobs to address the high unemployment rate in the country,” Senator Udoma was quoted as saying in a statement issued by his spokesman, Akpandem James.
“So, we will not stop after the first set of labs. After this first set of labs, we will hold more labs and more labs, and more labs, and we shall keep on addressing all the constraints to investment until we achieve the goals we have set for ourselves,“ he added.