Local manufacturers need conducive environment to thrive – Lawal
Kamoru Adisa Lawal is the Managing Director, LAKMOS Electrical Enterprises. He is the manufacturer of Kamo extension solution electrical appliance. He told GBENGA AKINFENWA, the prospects and challenges of local manufacturing and what government should do to encourage local players.
What are your challenges?
Our major challenge is power. We run on Generator on daily basis. We spend at least N30, 000 on fuel. The expenses incurred for the purchase of fuel impacts negatively on our profit. We are making very little profit.
Secondly, we don’t have access to funds. Since 2013 when I started this business, I have not been able to get any funding, in form of loan to develop this business. The demand is increasing daily and if I have the opportunity to access funds, no doubt, we will expand this business and meet the supply target. I have being to banks, but the interest rate is too high. If government can provide a sort of incentives for local producers like us, with minimal interest rate, no doubt we will develop the Nigerian market to the envy of other countries.
But it’s always alleged that the quality of our products are low?
We have to start somewhere, even China and other countries rated as manufacturing giants, started somewhere. It wasn’t a day’s journey. It is a gradual process, if we intensify our efforts, we will surely get to the level of perfection. We need to start working towards perfection daily. Just like our product, it has been able to win the hearts of the people. Nigerians need to develop their level of creativity, to be at par with foreign goods.
Despite campaigns to change the perception of Nigerians in favour of Nigerian-made products, patronage is still very low compared to imported goods. What do you think is the problem?
Our government still has a lot to do in the area of campaigns, to let Nigerians know that buying locally made goods will create jobs for our jobless youths, the country cannot move forward if our people are snubbing what we produce. At least, I have 15 people under my employ, who would need to be paid at the end of the month. If our people are not buying what we produce, we wont be able to pay them and they will be jobless.
Also, we Nigerians need to up our game. Nigerians are very creative and innovative, if we put diligence to our creativity, we will compete favourably with imported products in the market.
What is the market like?
We have established ourselves to a level where dealers from Lagos, Kaduna, Abuja, Zaria and Jos are patronising us because of the quality of our product. Adebowale Electrical Company, Onipanu, Spartek and Endurance electrical Ltd are some of our customers. We are also selling to dealers of home appliances. We are already registered with the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and Trademark Nigeria. SON has always been buying our product; last year they bought goods worth N3 million for their office use, likewise the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). We have been to Justrite, but the process is still half way, but Shoprite claims they don’t buy Nigerian made products; the same thing goes for Cash-n-carry.
Another area local producers complain about is the absence of ease of doing business, how easy was it for you to get the necessary registration and documentations for this business?
It has not been an easy venture, but with what the Federal Government has just put in place, the process is a bit faster for local manufacturers. One of the major challenges in that aspect was that we needed to ‘settle’ some people to hasten the process. You know in Nigeria, things are not that easy, but with God we achieved the unthinkable.
It took me almost two years to get the SON approval, and later got other necessary approvals.
What do you think government needs to do, to change the negative perception of Nigerians, to embrace the locally produced products?
Government should first of all address electricity problem. We have heard of manufacturing companies spending over N3 million on fuel because of this lingering problem. If our electricity is stable, the price will come down and our people will buy our products. They also need to provide conducive environment for entrepreneurs to thrive.
When you compare prices of Nigerian-made goods with imported ones, the prices are at times the same or slightly higher than imported goods. What causes this?
As I said earlier, one of the major problems is power failure, which impacts negatively on our cost of production. Aside spending N30, 000 monthly for petrol alone, we still buy gas to power other generators and you know what the price of gas is now.
The other thing is that aside the Cable, which we buy locally, all other raw materials-sockets and others are imported and you know the present rate of dollar to the naira, which has led to daily increase in prices of the materials.
The other thing is that the country has not developed to a level where we can use machines to assemble the electrical extension solutions, we are doing manual and cannot produce at the rate a machine can work.
What a machine can produce in a day, the people using manual labour will use days to produce at that level, that will definitely determine the price.
What led you into this business?
It all started in 2013, during a Church programme we had at the Christ Gospel Apostolic Church, Egbeda, Lagos. The Pastor charged us to pray passionately, because God wants many of us to establish our own companies.
After that God showed me in a dream to start producing extension boxes. The next morning I made a move and my children were asking me if I was sure people would buy the product. The first set I did, I took them to church, they prayed on them and bought all. That gave me encouragement. What God showed me, He has already prepared a market for it, there is nowhere I go, they always embrace it.
I really thank God for what He has done; as I am talking to you now, we cannot meet the demand of our customers. Our customers from Abuja and other places will just drop money into the account and we’ll send the product to them. It is a well-known product today. At present, people are buying the product and taking it to Ghana and other neighbouring countries. I know that very soon, we will be exporting to other countries. I want to thank my Pastor, A.G.S Adewole, who encouraged me; God should continue to enrich him, his family and ministry.