Experts deliberate on pathways to national prosperity at TEC’s Vantage Forum

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Business leaders, economic experts and entrepreneurs have convened to discuss pathways to stimulate prosperity in Nigeria, in, and beyond 2019 at the Vantage Forum on January 31, 2019.

Vantage Forum is a high-profile annual business and economic outlook event hosted by The Elevation Church (TEC), a Lagos-based non-denominational Christian ministry. The theme of the 2019 edition was ‘2019 and Beyond: Stimulating National Prosperity’.

Four guest speakers, includining Toyin Sanni, Group CEO, Emerging African Capital Group Investments Ltd; Opuiyo Oforiokuma, MD, ARM-Harith Infrastructure; Biodun Adedipe, Economist & Chief Consultant, BAA Consults Limited; and Femi Adeoti, MD, Inlaks Limited were at the event. They analysed the Nigerian economy as it wades through uncertain political times and shared critical insights about what the country needs to move beyond its current state and attain economic prosperity.

Dr Biodun Adedipe, a foremost economics expert, spoke about the outlook of the Nigerian economy as the country heads into the 2019 elections. According to him, the country has made significant progress and the Nigerian economy seems on the right trajectory.  He challenged Nigerians to be positive about the economy of the nation and be on the look-out for opportunities.

This year, both the IMF and the World Bank have grim predictions for the Nigerian economy.

However, Dr Adedipe argued that international indices on Nigeria may be faulty because they usually take only the formal sector into account.

“When you make reference to poverty you think about the bank alert, but in reality, there are other activities in the informal sector that a typical Nigerian performs to sustain him.”

He also analysed the benefits of the Federal Government Social Investment Programs and identified Agriculture and Trade as the sectors with the biggest opportunities in the Nigerian economy.

Opuiyo Oforiokunma, an expert on infrastructure investments, spoke on the role of infrastructure as a critical enabler for business in Nigeria, citing examples of other countries that are doing better than Nigeria because of better infrastructure.

According to Oforiokunma, trillions of naira in value is lost in Nigeria due to inadequate infrastructure and improper use of it by Nigerians. An example is the poor maintenance culture in the country.

He recommended private investment in infrastructure and challenged Nigerians to be ready to pay for good, efficient infrastructure if it is available, citing the Azura power plant in Edo State, a 461MW Open Cycle Gas Turbine that has added 10 percent to the national grid.

Femi Adeoti spoke on technology as an enabler for business and national prosperity. According to him, technology is the new big thing. Nigeria’s 2019 budget is not up to the annual revenue of any of the top 5 companies in the world.

“Data is the new oil- the top 5 most valuable companies in the world are technology companies. None of them are up to 50 years. They are not dealing in raw materials but in creativity. When you are creative, countless opportunities are open to you.”

Adeoti also said that the best way to be part of the next industrial revolution is to leapfrog, and technology can help Nigeria do that.

Toyin Sanni, the keynote speaker, gave insights about the topic; ‘2019 and Beyond: Stimulating National Prosperity’.

According to Sanni, in order to stimulate prosperity, there has to be a ‘Burning platform scenario’, a point where everyone agrees that things have to change. Nigeria is definitely not where it should be.

“How did we get to where we are today- over reliance on oil revenue, negligence on our economic management, poor investments in our human and physical infrastructure, and uncontrolled population growth”

Sanni listed Bold reforms, Human capital development, Investment in physical infrastructure, and Economic diversification as some of the things Nigeria needs to do to stimulate prosperity.

In his closing remarks, lead Pastor of TEC, Godman Akinlabi said the church needs to appropriate the favour of God for national prosperity and not just for personal prosperity.

According to Akinlabi, Nigerians need to focus on how to make Nigeria better.

“This nation, or any country a person resides, has the potential to limit everybody in it, you can buy the very best cars but you drive it on the same bad roads.”

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