April 17, 2024

AfCFTA: FG Says Efforts Underway to Boost Nigeria’s Manufactures’ Competitiveness

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*Nigeria’s research institutes contributing nothing to industrial, national development, Aganga declaresDike Onwuamaeze  

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has said the federal government is working towards having proactive engagements with members of the Manufacturing Association of Nigeria (MAN) that would lead to the resuscitation of the industrial sector.

Tinubu, who was represented by the Executive Secretary of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRC), Mr. Rabiu Olowo, gave the commitment yesterday as the keynote speaker of the “Third Adeola Odutola Lecture/Presidential Luncheon” with the theme “Setting the Agenda for Competitive Manufacturing Under the AfCFTA: What Nigeria Needs to Do,” which was organised in Lagos by the MAN as part of the activities marking its three-day “Made in Nigeria Exhibition.”Tinubu, said the development of MSMEs, access to roads and finance, electricity, were some of the steps his administration was taking to enhance manufacturers’ competitiveness.He said: “Nigeria has the largest population in Africa and the largest economy. So, it has a crucial role especially when we talk about the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

“The AfCFTA represents a transformative development in Africa economic development. As of September 2021, it has the potential to create a single market for goods and services over the continent, encompassing over 1.3 billion people.“To harness the full benefits of the historic agreement, we must make strategic interventions about the manufacturing sector to enhance our competitive edge.“We have four critical imperatives to share with you that are combined responsibilities of the government and the MAN. We have to build collaboration and partnership. AFCTA is not just an agreement. It is a platform for collaboration even beyond the wall of Nigeria.“How do we reach for regional collaboration and partnership that will give us a competitive manufacturing sector? Nigeria must actively engage in regional collaboration with the following steps. We must strengthen our commitment to regional integration by harmonising trade and manufacturing policies with other AfCFTA parties.”

He added: “The second one is Public Private Partnership (PPP). We must encourage a robust PPP to enhance the strength of both sectors. The private sector cannot do it alone, and government is showing willingness by listening to you who are the experts. You have been doing this for long and we are going to work with you in order to deliver sustainable growth, especially in the area of research and development. “The third one is support for exporting SMEs. The government is giving its commitment to say that we are going to give our support and financial mechanisms to enable them meet quality and safety standards.

“The fourth is infrastructure and technology. They play pivotal role in promoting manufacture, whether you talk of electricity or roads. We have to upgrade our infrastructure. We have to promote technology adoption. Manufacturers should be encouraged to adopt advanced manufacturing technology.”A former Minister of Finance and Minister of Industries, Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, who was the guest speaker at the event, said that, “embracing competitive manufacturing under the AfCFTA is crucial for Nigeria’s economic growth and integration into the global marketplace.“Nigeria may not be able to compete with China now, but by investing in infrastructure, innovation and skilled labour while addressing trade barriers, the business environment and promoting market access, Nigeria can certainly position itself as the manufacturing hub in Africa.” Aganga, declared that Nigeria’s numerous research institutes were contributing nothing to the country’s industrial and national development in spite of the billions spent on them year on year from taxpayers’ money.He also appealed to Tinubu to declare the Nigerian industrial sector a national priority sector and back it with plans, policies, and money because history has shown that industries multiply national wealth, creates jobs, is critical for exchange rate and balance of payment management and would make the Naira stronger.

Aganga said: “Nigeria has numerous research institutes across various fields, including agriculture, healthcare, technology, and more. However, these institutes which are funded by taxpayers’ money have had little or no impact on national development, and in particular on our industrial development.Earlier in his remark, the President of MAN, Mr. Francis Meshioye, highlighted the challenges faced by manufacturers, which included multiple taxation, high borrowing costs, lack of patronage of Made-in-Nigeria products, foreign exchange shortage and other issues.

The three-day AGM/Exhibition/conference of the MAN ended yesterday and was attended by leading manufacturers like the Dangote Group, the Cutix Plc that is a manufacturer and supplier of house wiring cables, all aluminum conductors and the Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals and Fertiliser GroupAccording to the Group Head, Corporate Communications, Indorama, Dr. Jossy Nkwocha, the company showcased its polymer (petrochemicals) product grades for the production of various plastics and allied products as well as its Urea, NPK and Neem-coated fertilizers. Nkwocha, said their marketing teams were able to receive many dignitaries, agricultural stakeholders and potential customers.

The company was presented an Appreciative Award for its support for the advocacy roles of the manufacturers association over the years.

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