‘Stakeholders must position retail as next economic driver’
Currently contributing about 18 per cent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which translates to about $38.8 billion, and grossing a total national sale of about N38 trillion in 2016, experts said the retail sector could become the next economic driver in Nigeria if inherent challenges are tackled.
The experts, who gathered at the fourth edition of the Retail Leaders Conference in Lagos, insisted that a plethora of challenges have continued to cripple the growth of the sector thereby limiting projected opportunities, particularly in the areas of job creation and economic benefits.
While the global retail sector adds above 25 per cent to world’s GDP, translating to about $19 trillion of retail sales yearly, with about 800 million people employed, poor operating environment, security challenges, poor infrastructure, forex instability, high cost of borrowing, limited distribution network, expensive real estate and other challenges were highlighted as bane of the sector.
Speaking at the event, the President and Chairman of Council, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), Prof. Segun Ajibola, said there was a need for the retail sector to form synergy with financial institutions, be properly funded, with adequate capacity building otherwise the sector may miss out on future benefits, as the global sector has been projected to hit $11.4 trillion by 2030.
Ajibola, who said the retail sector could address growing unemployment in Nigeria, said the country’s population and the rapidly growing middle class as well as polices against street trading, government’s desire to formalise the sector for tax purposes would continue to make retailing a major driver of the economy.
He, however, tasked government to develop traditional market places and not let the advent of malls force the traditional markets out of business.The Executive Director, (SME), Bank of Industry, Waheed Olagunju, said tackling challenges of the manufacturing sector would further benefit the retail sector as huge losses from importation and job would be reversed.
Represented by the company’s General Manager (SME-South), Abdul-Ganiyu Mohammed, Olagunju said patronising made-in-Nigeria goods would spur the local economy, create job security, strengthen the naira, increase raw material processing, increase innovation, and make local businesses to give back.
“Demand for indigenous products will increase when market mechanics such as quality assurance, product awareness, price regulation and consumer protection are ensured,” he stated.
The President, Bervidson Retail Group, Joseph Ebata, said the retail sector remained key to the success of the campaign of buy made-in-Nigeria goods, adding that the goods must be good and remain of good quality to meet international standards.
Ebata said the conference, which was titled, “Supporting Retail: The Next Driver of Nigeria’s Economic Growth,” has continued to stimulate support for the retail sector from all stakeholders, particularly the government.Considering the current economic challenges confronting the country, Ebata said prioritising the sector would reposition the nation’s ailing economy.