The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga, confirmed the country's selection on Friday at the end of the Presidential Advisory Council Meeting on the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan, NIRP, in Abuja.
Mr. Aganga noted that Nigeria's endorsement was based on the Federal Government's holistic and integrated industrialization policies, which culminated in the recent launch of NIRP by President Goodluck Jonathan.
He said the NIRP was part of Federal Government's efforts towards achieving inclusive economic growth through industrialization.
The NIRP is a five-year plan to improve competitiveness and rapidly increase the capacity utilization of local industries for job creation and wealth generation.
The plan identifies industrial groups where Nigeria has comparative and competitive advantage, such as agro and agro-allied processing; metals and solid minerals processing; oil and gas related industries, and construction and light manufacturing and services.
The goal of the NIRP is to increase the contribution of the manufacturing sector to the country's gross domestic product, GDP from the present four per cent to more 10 per cent over the next five years.
The minister said the ultimate objective is to boost the annual revenue earnings of the Nigerian manufacturers to about N5 trillion per annum.
He said the NIRP was in line with President Jonathan's Transformation Agenda to prioritize industrialization as part of his administration's inclusive economic growth and diversification strategy for the country.
Nigeria's selection as one of the pilot countries in Africa to showcase UNIDO's support to the country's industrialization plans, he said, was a huge endorsement for the NIRP.
The Minister said that the UNIDO Director General has already visited Nigeria and has been duly briefed about the NIRP.
As a follow up, Nigeria has been invited by UNIDO to attend its Conference on Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development in Austria next week to talk about what the country is doing on the NIRP and how that fits into UNIDO's Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development programme.
"What this means is that Nigeria will come up with a proposal in terms of industrial zones, cities and parks to be presented at another UNIDO's platform in October this year, for potential investment and funding," he said.
"UNIDO will do everything it can to support Nigeria by providing the technical capacity to support our industrialization plans," the Minister stated.
UNIDO's Country Representative in Nigeria, Patrick Kormawa, said Nigeria's selection as a pilot country in Africa was based on the Federal Government's proactive and well articulated policies towards industrializing the country.
"UNIDO selected Nigeria based on Nigeria's proactive policies towards industrialization and private sector development. Over the years, Nigeria has taken bold steps to improve the investment climate for industrialization," Mr. Kormawa said.
Again, he said Nigeria has put in place the NIRP, which is a policy action anchored at the highest level of government, that needs the necessary buy-in of international organizations, like UNIDO.
"The NIRP is anchored right at the top the Federal Government's priority. The Federal Government has set up a Presidential Advisory Council anchored in the Presidency and chaired by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, with another Co-Chair, who is a very successful African investor, Alhaji Aliko Dangote.
"When UNIDO sees that the government has put policies in place to improve the investment environment and critical infrastructure, such as power, and also to improve the skills required for industrialization, what is left now is to put all of these things together to ensure that the investments and goodwill that the government has put in place is backed by international investors," he said.
He said UNIDO sees Nigeria as very important in Africa, noting that when Nigeria moves, all other countries on the continent will move also.
He said Nigeria's investment potentials and the recent rebasing of her economy, as well as the Federal Government's policies are a plus for the country.
"This is our own way of showing the commitment of UNIDO to move along with the government and the people of Nigeria to improve industrialization in the country," he said.