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Heavy importation threatening local manufacturers, says BoI



APPARENTLY worried by the high level of low capacity utilization occasioned by huge imports of goods that could be produced locally, the Bank of Industry (BoI) has advocated the expansion of protectionist policy for indigenous producers, even as it pledged to sustain support for local manufacturers.

   According to the bank, commitment to a protectionist policy is imperative in curbing the importation of products that could be produced locally.

  Speaking after a facility tour of Momas Electricity Meters Manufacturing Company Limited (MEMMCOL) and WEMPCO steel and ceramics production facilities, the Managing Director of BoI, Rasheed Olaoluwa, observed that local manufacturers have the capacities to meet local demand and end reliance on foreign alternatives, with the enactment of protectionist policies.

    According to Olaoluwa, a major strategic step we can take here is to protect local firms that can produce what Nigeria needs; we do not need to import what we can produce.

    “I must say that I am very impressed by the level of technology on display here.  People who have an engineering background would understand what I mean here. I saw semi-conductors, integrated electric circuit and the process of making these circuits.  It is the first time this is happening in Nigeria. The key issue is, we have a company in Nigeria that is owned by a Nigerian and that has the capacity to supply almost all of the electricity meters that we need in this country.  

    “For me, there is an industrial policy issue here.  BoI wants to help Nigerian companies like this that have the capacity to produce what Nigerians or Nigerian businesses require. We don’t need to import such things. This is one of the reasons why our foreign reserve has been under pressure. We keep importing what we produce locally. I think the major strategic step for our country to take is to come out with an industrial policy to ensure that any company we have identified as having capacity to produce items locally, such companies are given support and patronized”, he added.

  While at the WEMPCO plant, which converts steel billets to wire rods for the production of wire mesh, nails and other finished products, Olaoluwa noted that the facility was the first of its kind in the country.

   “We are seeing a company that is producing to international quality standards. Government should do all it can to protect them, there is no justification for the continued imports; ex-factory price here is even cheaper than imported alternatives.

   He noted that supporting companies in this manner, would scale up their human resource capacities and curtail export of Nigerian jobs to other countries.

   Olaoluwa, reiterated that government’s Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan was meeting its objectives and that the country was already on the right track to being self-sustaining.

   “We encourage the manufacturers themselves to also patronise each other in terms of semi raw materials and production machineries,” he said.

  He disclosed that BoI is on the verge of launching a renewable off-grid electricity concept that would be commercially viable and the ministry of power is assisting the development bank secure licenses for its take-off.

“As a development bank with catalytic role, we noticed a lot of talk about diversification of sources of power. What we do is to take the lead and encourage the private sector. We are using it to demonstrate to the business community that off-grid power is possible and viable, hopefully other banks will follow suit,” he said.

   He said the development bank will continue to support processors, manufacturers and product developers in the agro; energy & gas; solid minerals and metals sectors of the economy.

   In his remarks, the Managing Director of WEMPCO, Tung Robert, said: “BoI is really helping the industrialisation of Nigeria and without their help, we would not have had long-term facilities that have helped us sustain the production process especially in power generation.”

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