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Stakeholders chart path to virile real sector at The Guardian awards

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[FILES] Martins Oloja

Worried by the state of the nation’s manufacturing sector, the acting Editor-in-Chief, The Guardian, Martins Oloja, and other stakeholders in the real sector have asked the Federal Government and economic managers to develop policies and modules towards achieving a virile manufacturing sector.
   
He stated this during The Guardian Manufacturing Excellence Award, tagged “The Manufacturing Sector As Catalyst For Industrialisation: Issues And Prospects.”

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Oloja described the sector as the heart of any economy seeking growth and stressed that if attention were not given to the sector, not much would be achieved as a nation.
 
He called on the Federal Government to develop policies and modules aimed at achieving economic sustainability and development.

He also underscored the need for the government to prioritise quality education because of the connection between quality education and industrial development.

He said: “Take a look at South Africa and other countries doing well in Africa. They were able to achieve this because they have invested so much in education and that is why the top eight universities in Africa are from South Africa.”

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In his keynote address, a Partner, Transaction Advisory Services, Ernst and Young, Damilola Aloba, listed key determinants of Nigeria’s industrialisation as promotion of science and technology, engineering and entrepreneurship, and vocational and job training.

He also called on the Federal Government to provide economic and tax incentives to encourage local production to establish Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to empower manufacturing companies.

Promotion of policies to ease trade restrictions and the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA) and strict border control, he added, would create a continental market to bolster international negotiations.

According to him, the establishment of SEZs will attract investments, create jobs, and boost export directly and indirectly and build linkages with the broader economy.

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On prospects for the manufacturing sector, he observed that local production, local services, and local innovation were critical to manufacturing and industrial activities.

Major issues affecting the manufacturing sector, he observed, were foreign exchange, infrastructure challenges, demand and competition, access to financing, supply chain, and lack of access to local input. He also classified key drivers of Nigeria’s industrialisation as import substitution and export-led industrialization, which will reduce dependency on import, especially of intermediate and capital goods, just as they will contribute to developing local skills in new growth areas, establishing free trade zones and industrial parks to incentivize manufacturing and export-led industries.

The acting Director-General, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Ambrose Oruche, lamented that Nigeria was still not ready for AfCFTA scheduled to kick off in January.

“We kicked against foreign trade deals coming out of Africa and now we cannot even compete with African nations. We have to be careful about how we go about this trade deal; otherwise, Nigeria would become a dumping ground,” he warned.

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The General Manager, Large Enterprise, BOI, Leonard Kange, said the sector was faced with two major challenges, lack of capital and access to low-cost funds to drive the manufacturing sector.

He said the bank had so far disbursed over N945 billion to the real sector on an annual basis to encourage local production in the country.
   
Dangote Cement Plc emerged the Manufacturing Company of the Year, Cement Manufacturing Company of the Year, while the President, Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, won the Chief Executive Officer of the Year.
   
Guinness Nigeria Plc won the Best Manufacturing Company of the Year; 11 Plc picked up the Lubricant Manufacturing Company of the Year; Vitafoam Nigeria Plc bagged the Mattress Manufacturing Company of the Year; while Fidson Healthcare Plc won the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Company of the Year.
   
Other winners were Nigerian Bottling Company Limited, which won the Soft Drink Manufacturing Company of the Year; Nestle Nigeria Plc (Milo), best Beverage Manufacturing Company of the Year for cocoa; Friesland Campina WAMCO Nigeria Plc, Best Beverages Manufacturing Company of the Year for milk products; Nigerian Bottling Company Limited (Five Alive), Best Beverages Manufacturing Company of the Year (juices); Dangote Flour Mills Plc, Food Products Manufacturing Company of the Year (pasta); Nestle Nigeria Plc (Maggi) Food Product Manufacturing Company of the Year (seasoning cubes); Dangote Group, Best Manufacturing Company in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR); Bank of Industry (BOI), Best Bank in Support of Manufacturing; Guinness Nigeria Plc, Best Manufacturing Company in Health Safety and Environment (HSE); and Dangote Sugar Refinery Limited, Sugar Manufacturing Company of the Year.

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