The Minister of Industry Trade and Investment, Richard Adebayo, has stated that plans are ongoing to set up an action committee to protect local manufacturers. He said the move was imperative to address smuggling post-Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) while also tapping into the opportunities that the agreement would bring.
The Minister stated this on the sidelines of the yearly general meeting of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) in Lagos. The Minister, who also represented President Muhammad Buhari, said: “The whole idea is to tap the opportunities that are going to arise. An action committee is being set up and the committee will look at the modalities about what we need to do as a country to protect the local manufacturers as well.”
According to him, many African countries have enviable GDP growth rates compared to their global peers, but stated that there are still high poverty, unemployment and mortality rates within the continent. This, he said indicates that the reported growth was not inclusive, saying the growth was driven by resource extraction without local value addition. He said unless the country focuses investments on rural development, migration into urban areas will continue to increase further, therefore stressing the social and physical infrastructure in key cities.
“We have an economic management team that is working hard and all government in the economic areas where they all sit together to see how these issues affecting the nation could be resolved,” he said. He challenged manufacturers to collectively develop implementable strategies that support value addition within Nigeria and indeed, Africa.
“We have the raw materials, we have the population. We have the capacity. So this vision is achievable,” he said.He said to back the resource-based industrialisation policy, the administration introduced various industrial incentives in priority sub sectors, enhanced the ease of doing business, developed the capacities of entrepreneurs and initiated relevant Executive Orders to promote transparency in governance, enhance local content and improve patronage of products manufactured locally.
“We shall continue to do so in the coming years. We aim to consolidate on the achievements during our first term in office. You will agree with me that the government achieved its aspiration of shared prosperity without the support of key stakeholders such as MAN,” he said.He noted that manufacturers should be rest assured that the administration is doing everything to assist, encourage and enable manufacturers open more plants to create more job opportunities for the nation’s teeming unemployed youths.
The President of MAN, Mansur Ahmed, said the manufacturing sector has been afflicted by an enormous appetite for oil price determined foreign currency flows, as well as the propensity for foreign goods consumption, saying that the present administration’s emphasis on economic diversification and a steady focus on agricultural transformation and pursuit of food security cannot, therefore, be faulted.
“MAN, therefore, commends you for these policies which helped our economy to exit the recession and return to a growth trajectory. We note, that, over the past two and a half years, growth has remained generally in positive territory though still- fragile.“We are aware, Mr. President that many other initiatives have been introduced over this period to consolidate on the progress made and to sustain growth- initiatives such as the ERGP, PEBEC, and the many Executive Orders issued all aimed at strengthening the productive sector to create jobs and lift our people from endemic poverty,” he said.
He lamented that despite these policies and initiatives, the economy has remained fragile and the manufacturing sector, in particular, still continues to face daunting challenges. He added that the state of infrastructure has deeply eroded the competitiveness of the sector, stressing that the supply of electricity, access to ports and their low operating efficiencies, the poor condition of most of the nation’s highways and waterways, and the absence of a credible rail network all constitutes impediments to operating efficiencies of manufacturing outfits.