Nigeria needs to diversify to attract investment, boost trade surplus, says Okonjo-Iweala

Adebari Oguntoye
Adebari Oguntoye
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), says there is a need for Nigeria to continue to diversify to add more value to the economy.

Okonjo-Iweala spoke to journalists after a meeting with the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, and other women at the Nigerian Women in Leadership event, on Saturday in Abuja.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nigeria recorded a N1.41 trillion trade deficit between October and December of 2023.

Within the period, Nigeria’s exports totaled N12.69 trillion, and total imports stood at N14.11 trillion, giving a trade deficit of N1.41 trillion.

Speaking at the event, the WTO boss said the country must do more to attract investment domestically and also from outside.

Okonjo-Iweala said the government must also “create the environment to attract investment,”  adding that this would persuade them (the government) to invest in certain productions and in different kinds of industries to attract people from outside.

“If we are going to go into surplus, we also have to think of how to make use of the African continental free trade area because we have a large market here, but 1.4 billion is an even larger market. Those are the things we have to do.” she said.

Speaking further on the main purpose of the event, Okonjo-Iweala said the area of discussion with the duchess bordered on areas such as the challenges that women face in trying to become leaders and how they could overcome them.

Okonjo-Iweala also said ways in which women could support themselves and improve their positions in the country were discussed.

She pointed out that women have continued to face many challenges while trying to become leaders.

Okonjo-Iweala said it is imperative to increase the percentage of women in leadership positions both in the states and at the federal government level.

“How do we improve the position of women in the country? We have a very low percentage of women in the National Assembly. We have never had a woman governor, let alone something higher.

“That has to change, but no one is going to hand it to the women. Women have to fight for it, but men also have to support it because you cannot have 50 percent of your population not participating.

“So, these were some of the issues we discussed today, and we have to offer solutions on how the women could deal with the challenges of leadership. Most of the women in the room here are already leaders; they are not even struggling to get to the top as they are already there,” she said.

Okonjo-Iweala, however, said the highlight of the event was when the Duchess shared her experiences.

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