Abuja - President Goodluck Jonathan said African leaders should prioritise the structural transformation of the African economy.
Jonathan said this in Abuja at the 7th Joint Annual Meeting of the
Economic Community of African Conference of African Ministers of
He said: "The theme of this conference, industrialisation for
inclusive and transformative development in Africa is of special
relevance to Africa at this time.
"Here in Nigeria it corresponds with the transformation agenda and ongoing programme of national renewal.
"The structural transformation of African economy must continue to
be a core priority to close the poverty gap and industrialisation must
be key for transformation."
He said African economies in the 1980s and 1990s had gone through many challenges and saddled with high foreign debts.
According to him, the GDP growth of most countries was about two per cent on the average but has reversed recently.
"Our foreign debts are in decline and the foreign direct investments are positively coming up in the continent.
"In fact, African Diaspora are also investing robustly in our
economies and in the past decade African economy has grown to about five
per cent," he said.
He noted that the benefits of the positive economic growth had been
restricted by inequality, noting that countries must work together for
the benefits to spread to the grassroots.
He said that although many of the African economies had been
classified as middle income, frontiers and MINT economies, they still
shared common challenges.
He noted that some of the challenges which needed to be fixed
included job creation, industrialisation and building social safety
"We need to focus on industrialisation as a backbone for our structural transformation," he added.
Jonathan noted that the impact of industrialisation in countries such
as Malaysia, Taiwan, and Brazil among others remained relevant adding
that Nigeria had continued to learn from them.
He added that the launch of the industrial plan was to boost the sector from four per cent of GDP to 10 per cent by 2017.
He said the plan focused on four areas of light manufacturing, agro
business, petrochemicals as well as solid minerals and metals.
This, he said, might not take off until the nation's infrastructure
was fixed adding that same would be applicable for the continent.
He said Nigeria had made infrastructure core priority and had
transparently done the power sector privitiasation and the launch of the
construction of N117 billion second Niger bridge.
He called for effort to ensure that positive economic growth in the
region was translated to jobs to change the lives of Africans.
"As we grow our economies it's our obligation that we carry everyone
along; we can learn from some of the social programmes introduced by
Latin American countries.
"We must ensure that the social protection programmes will become
financially sustainable and also reach the reality of those that need
our support," he said.
He urged the conference to focus on issues as they affect the
continent especially in the areas of corruption, insecurity and come out
with practicable recommendations.
"Whenever you mention security, I always remember that sometimes
when you look at the characters that carry the weapons in turbulent
areas, including the Northern part of Nigeria, you see a young person
carrying AK 47 equivalent of 1000 U.S. dollars.
"But the total thing he wears in the body is not up to 50 U.S.
dollars; so where is the money coming from that they use in buying these
weapons to kill and increase our problems.
"We need to find out if there are external forces that don't want Africa to grow by providing these weapons.
"So we should all work as a team and share knowledge on social financial options for regional infrastructure projects.
He expressed the hope that good industrialisation plan and trade
would help to consolidate the positive economic growth witnessed in the
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