By GRACE AUDU, Abuja –
Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, has stated that the National Bioeconomy Strategic Framework for Nigeria is expected to serve as a key pillar of the forthcoming Medium-Term National Development Plan.
Speaking at the opening of a two-day National Bioeconomy Strategy workshop in Abuja on Thursday, Prince Agba explained that this was in line with current administration’s policy thrust for economic diversification and growth.
According to the Minister, “the bioeconomy strategy plays a dual role of promoting the growth and diversification of an economy and supporting the country in meeting its commitments in the Paris Agreement.
He pointed out that “Indeed, a well-crafted bioeconomy strategy will invariably address about a half of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”
Prince Agba said that Nigeria, as a tropical developing country, had huge potential in bioresources, especially biomass, which could be harnessed to create wealth, jobs, and enhance the growth and development of the country.
The minister further emphasized that “the focus of the present administration still remains the tripod of fighting corruption, security and strengthening the economy.”
He noted that “it is now history that Nigerian economy was in recession, although some analysts have argued that growth so far experienced is fragile. In addition to witnessing a fragile growth, we are also having a revenue challenge due to the narrow revenue base.”
He said the diversification of both the economy and the revenue bases had become critical and of immediate importance, stressing that “the creation of bio-economy which covers all the economic sectors including Agriculture, Manufacturing, Building and construction, Power and Energy, Transportation, Health and Education, will require creating new products and market that will enhance the growth of the Nigerian economy, thereby promoting its diversification.”
Agba stated that the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) from 2017-2020, which served as a blue print in steering the Nigerian economy away from recession to a path of positive growth, would come to an end in December this year.
“In this vein, the Ministry is in the process of preparing a successor Medium-Term Development Plan from 2021-2025, which together with the agenda 2030, is expected to accentuate and provide a coordinated approach for harnessing the inherent potential of the bioeconomy, towards addressing the employment challenge in the country,” he said.
Prince Agba stated further that the challenges of fragile and low economic growth, low investment and foreign capital inflows, high rates of unemployment and incidence of poverty confronting the nation today could be significantly reversed using bioeconomy strategy.
He pointed out that the National Bioeconomy Strategic Framework was to unleash the nation’s bioeconomy potential for the country, maintaining that the framework would outline shared vision and common objectives towards which every stakeholder would work to move the nation forward.
He also stated that the National Strategic Framework “is a collaborative process involving all stakeholders in the public and private sectors, including the research community, industry and development partners.”
In his welcome address, the Permanent Secretary, Mr Ernest Umakhihe represented by the Director, Monitoring and Evaluation Dr Zakari Lawal, said that the bioeconomy held the key to diversification of the Nigerian economy as the country had vast bioresources and the technologies for harvesting them were available.