Otunba Francis Meshioye, President, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), has charged government to make comprehensive and concerted efforts to overtake the binding constraints limiting local production.
Meshioye gave this charge at the MAN 51st Annual General Meeting (AGM) news conference on Wednesday in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the AGM scheduled for Oct. 17 to Oct. 19, 2023 has the theme: “Setting the Agenda for Competitive Manufacturing Under the AFCFTA: What Nigeria Needs To Do.”
According to the MAN president, the event’s theme was couched with deep reflection over the growth trajectory of the manufacturing sector in Nigeria and Africa.
“Focus must be on the role of the manufacturing sector in the actualisation of the AfCFTA and the integration of the African economy as envisioned in the Agenda 2063: ‘The Africa We Want.’
“Currently, the cost of manufacturing is daily rising owing to scarce and unavailable manufacturing inputs that continue to shrink profitability and threaten the existence of the critical sector of the economy,” he said.
Meshioye noted that more worrisome was the fact that the sector that should propel job creation, productivity, and economic growth was enmeshed in series of challenges that constantly limited its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“Such challenges as epileptic power supply, insecurity, inadequate infrastructure, shortage of foreign exchange and naira depreciation are prevailing issues that are impacting negatively on the sector.
“Government must seek to attract foreign investment that will bring about a reduction in the foreign exchange chase and ensure sufficient foreign exchange inflow that the country clearly requires.
“With a new administration steering the seat of governance, it is pertinent that all hands must be on deck to achieve a vibrant economy that can compete favourably.
“To start with, government needs to prioritise investment in infrastructure and power, combat insecurity and corruption as well as introduce incentive policies that will make domestic production more attractive than the importation of finished products,” he said.
The MAN president emphasised the need for the AfCFTA window to be maximised in such a way that products manufactured in Nigeria would be preferred in terms of quality and pricing.
He noted that until the country addressed the binding constraints that made local products uncompetitive, the benefit of a continental market might end up being a mirage for the largest economy in Africa.
“In the face of these shortcomings, we remain resilient and committed to our collaborative advocacy approach, as we strive towards the attainment of practical ease in doing business.
“We seek an atmosphere that supports favourable competition with our counterparts in other countries, particularly within the continent,” Meshioye said.
He said the association’s commitment to addressing the challenges from where the shoe really pinched informed the choice of guest speaker for the 3rd Adeola Odutola Annual Lecture.
“Our distinguished Guest Speaker is Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance and Chairman of the Economic Management Team from 2010 to 2011, Olusegun Aganga.
“Our goal is to brainstorm at the AGM, dwelling on the theme for the purpose of suggesting a policy direction for the new government.
“To give a typical rundown of this year’s event, the programme will as usual run for three days at the Lagos Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos with an exhibition, AGM and lecture.
“For the manufacturing sector to become competitive, we must all not rest on our oars until we can boast of a sector that guarantees the sustainability of the economy and improvement in the standard of living of majority of the citizens,” he said.