The President/CEO of Worldstage Group and convener of the #Worldstageeconomicusummit2017, Segun Adeleye, has charged all Nigerians and business owners within the country to imbibe innovation for economic development.
According to Adeleye, diversification into non-oil sectors may not be enough to sustain the nation’s economic development without adapting new ways of doing things.
In his words: “Nigeria is projected to be the third most populous country behind India and China by 2050, any diversification now without innovation by businesses and government may be tantamount to running on the same spot.”
Presenting his introductory address at the summit, Adeleye explained that the theme: ‘”Transforming Business and Economy Through Innovation,” was inspired through a new thinking.
He said: “The reality today is that we have an economy where the majority is disenfranchised and trapped in irrelevance. Yet we are at a time in history of information explosion when nothing is hidden about where countries are and where they want to be in the future.
“While we are still lamenting the lost opportunity to have developed with our oil wealth in the past, we can see the future unfolding before us, just as how the internal combustion engine is projected to die and the oil business, the mainstay of our economy is to become obsolete in the very near future.
“If we all know the shape the future is taking, we as a nation cannot afford to be stranded with costly obsolete technology or waste valuable time before changing direction, unless we want to remain the dump site of the future.
“With the calls for Nigeria to diversify its economy from oil after several missed opportunities in six decades, the new question begging for answer, is how fast and far can diversification solve economic problems in the short, medium and long terms?
“We should not make the mistake to think that because the people in government are educated and well-travelled, they will be conversant with the shape of things to come and pursue the right policies in infrastructure development, education, smart grid, clean energy among others. Sometimes, we have to question our sensitivity, sanity and care for fellow human beings and our country.”
Adeleye noted that so much has been read about the support for SMEs or MSMEs by the government from the federal to the local government level, yet in reality they don’t exist.
He said: “I will pause for you to sear your mind for few seconds; where are the so much talked about SMEs that are supposed to be creating millions of job? I personally believe that policies to support entrepreneurs should be such that anyone that have made an attempt at doing anything at all rather than roaming the street looking for unexciting jobs MUST get one form of support from the government or the established businesses in the private sector.
“The private sector here is as culpable as the government. You know our big corporate businesses have insatiable appetite for foreign products and services and if they must patronize the small local ones at all, they will offer to pay ridiculous prices that they cannot get anywhere in the world. Beggars have no choice. It’s either they take it or die. With this corporate terrorism, it’s not surprising that we have hardly seen any small enterprise that survived and grow in our country like the inspiring cases of Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Tweeter and recently Uber in the United States.
“We hold it as a duty in this forum and any similar ones to scream until those concerned will hear us. We don’t have any other choice anyway, because it’s about our wellbeing as a people, it’s about our survival, and it’s about the future of our children.
“WorldStage had made sure that the report of the last year summit with the theme: ‘Addressing Unemployment Crisis in Nigeria’ got to all the relevant government departments from the presidency, National Assembly to the state government.
“Today’s summit will not be an exception. The lead paper will come from an expert in Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation Economics, Dr. Ayodele Shittu, of the University of Lagos. After that we shall have presentations on the sub-themes which will serve as guides to the thorough discussion of the main theme by the panelists.”
Adeleye also hinted that the summit this year will recognize outstanding contributions to economic growth during the current year through a “WorldStage Economic Summit Awards”.
The awards featured Nigerian Development Best Bank of the Year, Nigerian Airport of the Year, Nigerian TV Station of the Year, Nigerian Public Institution of the Year amongst many others.
Adeleye said: “The winners emerged from the compilation of the responses to our questionnaires by stakeholders adding that the Awards for only one outstanding institution or individual per sector of the economy will be presented after the panel discussion.”