By Emmanuel Afonne
Nigeria and Morocco on Wednesday in Abuja mapped out strategies to tackle various economic challenges confronting both countries.
The initiative, championed by the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG), Africa Economic Development Policy Initiative (AEDPl) and OCP Policy Center, Morocco, is aimed at creating a platform for dialogue on economic development.
The dialogue centered on fiscal and monetary policies, energy policies, mobilising local resources through financial markets and how to tap into the potential of the youth in the Diaspora at the regional and continental levels.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the strategic dialogues with the theme “Enhancing Opportunities for Growth and Development” will also enable both countries to fashion out ways of mobilising financial resources for economic development.
Mrs Obiageli Ezekwesili, Senior Economic Advisor, African Economic Development Policy Initiative (AEDPl) said the partnership must be taken seriously by both countries as they shared common challenges of unemployment, monetary policy and renewable energy needs.
Ezekwesili said the cooperation would go a long way to tackle inflation and developmental challenges in the African continent.
“The Morocco-Nigeria Strategic Dialogues will constitute an opportunity to further explore the inputs of Morocco and Nigeria, as two strategic players within the African continent.
“The partnership between the NESG, AEDPl and OCPPC plays a pivotal role in bridging the two countries, and places these institutions as catalyzers of ideas and knowledge related to Morocco and Nigeria.
“Morocco and Nigeria, as emerging countries, have considerable leverage in multiple sectors such as energy,” she said.
Mr Karim El Aynaoui, Managing Director, OCP Policy Center, said the partnership was borne out of the fact that Nigeria and Morocco were faced with common challenges such as unemployment and monetary policy issues.
El Aynaoui said that large population of Moroccan youths live outside of Morocco because of unemployment, so also their Nigerian counterparts.
He said the dialogue was designed to enable both countries share experiences, successes and failures.
“We have similarities in our challenges; there is need to provide energy for the population and we have developed the renewable energy which is not a choice.
“Nigeria and Morocco have expertise in different areas that we can learn together and we are going to leverage on that to share our capabilities.
“We share the same challenge in terms of youth unemployment because we have a big part of our population living outside of Morocco in diaspora. We should also have to be more dynamic in terms of entrepreneurship for our young stars,” he said.
Also, Mr Ben Akabueze, Director of Budget, Ministry of Budget and National Planning, said the major problem of Nigeria at the moment was revenue and not debt.
Akabueze added that debt could become a problem when revenue issues were not addressed.
He said there was need to widen avenues for revenue mobilisation through tax collection.
He also said that the monetary policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should understand the need to continue to contain inflation and reduce interest rates.
Doyin Salami of the Lagos Business School said the difference between Nigeria and Morocco was that Nigeria had preference for strong currency, while Morocco had monetary policy stability.
“There is a philosophical issue that must be addressed. Inflation has got to be managed whether we like it or not.
“Nigeria has preference for strong currency while Morocco has monetary policy stability; we have revenue problems because more money is being lost to poor or low tax paid.
“In Nigeria, two to three per cent of the people at the top have the capacity to evade taxes and some Nigerian policy making elite don’t understand the market,” Salami said.
He added that business operators in Nigeria usually spend more on capacity building of their staff because a lot of Nigerian graduates carry certificates that were beyond their skills and ability.