The president of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Mansur Ahmed, has said that excessive reliance on imported raw materials has significantly weakened Nigeria’s manufacturing sector.

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Ahmed spoke during the Annual General Meeting of the Apapa branch of the association held in Lagos on Tuesday. He also called on manufacturers to deepen ties with the public sector with a view to improving the infrastructure needed to boost manufacturing activities in the country.

 He said, “Our manufacturing sector is weak because it is dependent on imported materials that we then process. We must therefore scale up or scale down. Our manufacturers have to go back and do the transformation. We in manufacturing need to focus on this issue. We need to build infrastructure. I was in a meeting where the Vice President inaugurated the National Council on Infrastructure.

“That is a very positive development. In our engagements and advocacy, we need to work with the government and indeed other stakeholders to ensure that the overall long-term transaction is for us to move our manufacturing sector from where we are today to where we should be, which is less dependence on imported materials, on foreign exchange issues, on machinery and spare parts. We have the capacity; we have the resources; we have the basic inputs we need. If we focus on this, the government will be a very willing partner.”

The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperative, Mrs. Oluremi Ososanya, said the state government was ready to strike productive partnerships with manufacturers in line with its agenda to create a vibrant private sector.

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She said, “An event of this nature stands an interest in view of the opportunity it offers for stakeholders in the manufacturing sector to come together and explore opportunities that will enhance synergy and economic growth. I heartily use this medium to appreciate the organizers of the event for deeming it fit at this time in the history of the country to bring together business owners with the involvement of the government as a means of proffering solutions to the state of the economy.”

In his keynote presentation, the Director-General of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, Mallam Farouk Salim, emphasized the need for manufacturing practitioners to adhere to the highest standards in the industry.

According to him, standards ensured the protection of consumer interest, guaranteed confidence in business transactions, and also accelerated the economic development of a nation.

On his part, the Chairman of the Apapa branch of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Frank Onyebu, said several encumbrances to manufacturing had led to a higher mortality rate of businesses in the sector.

Onyebu said, “Our commitment to building a competitive manufacturing sector in 2021 remained unrealistic due to a plethora of challenges, including dilapidated infrastructure, inadequate electricity supply, forex liquidity, overregulation, insecurity, dysfunctional port system, low consumer demand, poor operating environment, to mention a few. With AfCFTA at the implementation stage, the ability of manufacturers to compete with other African countries is obviously in doubt.”