‘Local manufacturing still dominated by food, beverages sector’
Worried by the dominance of a segment of the productive sector in the economy, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has emphasised the need for government intervention in other critical subsectors to diversify the country’s manufacturing base.
Indeed, the President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mansur Ahmed, while speaking at a forum for the media, charged the government to adopt necessary measures to diversify the manufacturing sector.
Ahmed explained that while the Federal Government was taking measures to diversify the economic base of the country, using the proceeds from oil and gas, additional efforts should also be made to focus on the manufacturing sector to produce what is needed.
He noted the need to deepen the complexity of the manufacturing sector, viewing diversification from both horizontal and vertical perspectives.
“As the government is diversifying from oil and gas to agriculture, the manufacturing sector needs to diversify to produce goods that are required. The government must look at the entire sectors of the economy and also encourage new investments. There is no doubt that the Nigerian manufacturing sector is not producing enough even though we are in a position to do so. Our manufacturing is not positioned to produce for export hence the need for encouragement. So, while we are thinking about diversification, we must do it horizontally and vertically.
“As we go into the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, it is an opportunity for Nigeria because when you go around Africa as a whole, apart from South Africa, maybe Egypt and Morocco, there is a lack of capacity. Therefore, we need to build the capacity of our manufacturing sector to produce more and improve the quality of our products.”
While reiterating the need to play on the global stage, Ahmed decried the overbearing influence of the Bretton Wood institutions, saying innovation and technology come after a long period of active involvement in production. He faulted the western-pro agencies for their advocacy of competitive advantage in global trade.
“What has brought us to this situation was that the Bretton Wood institutions convinced our political leadership that for us to even produce for the local economy, we must produce competitively with other producers that have been in the business for about 100 years. How can we be competitive under such circumstances? These are the people that are producing tens of hundreds of units per day, while our people can only do tens of units per day.
“For me, the ability to compete comes from practice and innovations. When one is doing something constantly, the idea of improving on that comes naturally. So, we need to give our manufacturers and industries time to be able to develop the capacity to meet the demands, especially at the international level. The only way we can do this is to put necessary measures in place,” he stressed.
Also, Prof. Uche Uwaleke of the Nasarawa State University said patronising locally-manufactured goods may not be effective without legislation.
“Patronising the locally made goods cannot happen with the pronouncement of executive orders and declarations. I think the government needs to move beyond that by promulgating laws that will make it compulsory for every Nigerian to patronise locally-made goods. The elite must take the lead in this regard. Look at the volumes of furniture that state governors buy when they assume office. Even at the national level, what is the percentage of local furniture to what we have in government houses, guest houses and offices?” he asked.