AIMING FOR CLEAR TARGETS

Nigeria 2018 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Muda Yusuf, Director General of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), on the importance of public policy advocacy, creating an enabling environment for investors, and supporting capacity building for small businesses.

Muda Yusuf
BIOGRAPHY
Muda Yusuf is the Director General of LCCI. He holds degrees in economics from the University of Ilorin and the University of Lagos. Passionate about private sector development and a strong private sector advocate, he has played active roles in public private partnerships on all levels of government. He has led engagement sessions to ensure appropriate reforms for the advancement of the Nigerian economy and private sector development. In addition to attending the Advanced Management Programme of the Lagos Business School, he was a delegate to the Commonwealth Business Forum in 2011 and a member of the delegation to the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in Cancún, Mexico.

What have been LCCI's main activities and achievements since its founding?

A major activity is public policy advocacy. A conducive business environment is imperative for the profitability, prosperity, and sustainability of a business. This requires quality engagement with the government and its agencies. The chamber, therefore, engages with the government and its agencies on all levels, including the federal, state, and local, to facilitate an enabling environment for investors, whether domestic or foreign. We typically address a whole range of policy issues that affect the private sector, including fiscal, monetary, trade, infrastructure, and institutional. We identify the issues through feedback from our members, who are in business and are able to articulate the challenges of the business environment. LCCI also creates networking platforms for its members and the business community as a whole. Such platforms have resulted in the building of partnerships between domestic and foreign investors in Nigeria. We also undertake capacity building for small businesses. The Nigerian economy is largely made up of SMEs, many of which have capacity shortcomings in managing their business. The failure rate of small businesses in Nigeria is high partly as a result of this factor. Through our capacity-building programs we support these small businesses. LCCI is also a major player in trade promotion, particularly exhibitions. We host the largest exhibition in Nigeria, and the West African sub region—the Lagos International Trade Fair. It is a major trade promotion platform for both domestic and foreign investors. We also organize other specialized exhibitions where we focus on specific sectors.

What incentives do you offer members, and what is your strategy to attract new ones?

Our main strategy is to ensure the delivery of value. Large companies look up to us to influence government policy. Most often they avoid engaging the government directly. They would rather do so using the platform of a business association like ours. They value our ability to influence government policies in their favor. For small businesses, it is more about seeking more business opportunities. We do this through the various platforms and linkages that we create for them with larger companies or foreign partners. We support the SMEs to build their capacity through training in business management, record keeping, information provision, and funding. We arrange for financial institutions to periodically meet with our SME members and give them discounts for the use of our facilities.

How developed is the use of PPPs for big infrastructure projects, and what must be done to increase private- and public-sector engagement ?

The country has a huge deficit in infrastructure, and the way to fix this is to attract private sector capital. To do this, we need to promote the concept of PPPs, and the LCCI is a leading advocate of this philosophy. We already have a great partnership in infrastructure between the government and GE to reconstruct and manage major rail lines in the country. At the sub-national level, a great deal of collaboration is taking place in the form of PPPs. For example, the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Corridor in Lagos is a PPP arrangement wherein the private sector provides the buses for this mass transit system. Many PPP initiatives exist in education, health, waste management, and housing. According to the government's Infrastructure Master Plan, the economy needs USD100 billion annually over 30 years to fix the national infrastructure.
What will be the impact of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP)?
Although the country already had a three-year medium-term expenditure framework as well as annual budgets, the ERGP is a more comprehensive plan that gives a clearer direction on where the government is heading with regard to its economic policy. The targets are realistic and modest, and the plan gives investors comfort about the direction of policy.