NEEDS and BBI: A UNIQUE SYNERGY
ORIGIN and MISSION
The Better Business Initiative is a network of Nigerian private sector and civil society-based working groups devoted to evidence/research based economic policy advocacy to remove bottlenecks to business and improve private sector competitiveness and growth in Nigeria.
Its mission is partnering to improve the economic environment for the competitiveness and growth of Nigerian non-oil economy.
BBI is an offshoot of the Inter-Agency Forum on Competitiveness and Private Sector Growth held July 1-2, 2002 at Abuja. The Forum was organised by the African Institute for Applied Economics (AIAE), Enugu, in collaboration with key government agencies (the Bureau for Public Enterprises -BPE, Budget Monitoring and Price Intelligence Unit – BMPI), private sector stakeholders and international development partners including the DFID, USAID, World Bank. The Forum rallied key Nigerian economy stakeholders in public and private sectors within and outside the country to review evidence on the state and competitiveness of Nigeria’s non-oil private sector.
The July 2002 Forum, among others, identified research/evidence-based policymaking, informed policy dialogue and civic participation in economic policymaking as critical missing links in Nigeria’s economic policy process. To address this gap, stakeholders resolved to form the Better Business Initiative to deepen public-private sector collaboration for improving the competitiveness and growth of Nigeria’s non-oil private sector.
Within the overarching goal of promoting evidence-based policymaking for competitiveness and private sector growth, the BBI seeks to:
ORGANISATION AND STRUCTURE
The BBI is supervised by a Steering Committee (also known as the Committee of the Whole - COW). The COW is made up of the Committee of Sponsors (COS) comprising the representatives of the donor institutions providing support and the Committee of Chairs (COC) of the Working Groups. The COC is the operational arm of the BBI that binds together and streamlines Working Groups within a network designed to ensure consolidation and synergy of work programme, activities, strategies, deliverables and impact.
The African Institute for Applied Economics, Enugu, is the Coordinating Secretariat of the Better Business Initiative. AIAE is charged with administrative, organisational, monitoring, outreach and networking functions for the BBI.
The BBI is presently structured into five thematic Working Groups as follows:
Each Working Group constitutes private and public stakeholders and operates a unified work-plan that integrates policy research, stakeholder consultations and feedback, advocacy through the application of international best practices. Since inception, BBI Working Groups have been conducting policy research, outreach and communication activities. Several advocacy events including stakeholder forum, conferences, workshops and summits have been organised to scrutinise research findings, share evidence/information and develop policy recommendations.
BBI prepared five thematic Competitiveness Roadmaps and Business Bottlenecks Removal Plan for adoption by government and stakeholders in line with the Government’s current economic reform agenda – the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS). To climax the strategic engagement of key stakeholders in government and private sector, the BBI held a successful groundbreaking Stakeholder Conference on Removing Bottlenecks to Business in Nigeria otherwise called the 2 nd National Forum on Competitiveness and Private Sector Growth from April 19-20, 2005 at Nicon Hilton Hotel, Abuja.
The NEEDS provides a unique opportunity for proactive public–private collaboration in shaping policies for competitive business environment in Nigeria. The Competitiveness Roadmaps and Bottlenecks Removal Action Plans are the outcomes of two successive years of policy research and stakeholder consultations/feedback. It was the primary agenda of the National Stakeholders Conference on Removing Bottlenecks to Business in Nigeria.
One of the key goals of NEEDS is to create a competitive private sector that can take advantage of domestic, regional and global markets. According to the NEEDS “growing the private sector hinges on domestic policies ……, and the public sector will emphasize reforms that lay a solid foundation for a prosperous and globally competitive private sector”. NEEDS expresses governments commitment to policy, regulatory, legal, administrative reforms that promote competitiveness of the private sector, reduce the cost of doing business and facilitate economic growth.
The Better Business Initiative and its Annual Competitiveness Forum are explicitly identified in the NEEDS as main vehicles for dialogue with private sector and civil society on economic policy reforms. Thus, BBI and NEEDS are commonly aligned towards removing obstacles to competitiveness and growth of Nigerian private sector.
The Competitiveness Roadmaps and Business Bottlenecks constitute concrete outputs representing BBI critical response in support of the NEEDS. The Stakeholder Conference on Removing Bottlenecks to Business in Nigeria was the apex machinery to deliver this response.