President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Frank Jacobs, says the continued use of obsolete equipment was hindering efforts by his members to salvage the nation’s ailing economy and contribute meaningfully to its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Speaking yesterday at the 2017 Manufacturing and Equipment Expo, which featured the Manufacturing Partnership for African Development (mPAD) in Lagos, Jacobs regretted that the real sector could not compete favourably internationally due to the harsh environment players operate in.
He blamed the import-dependent economy partly for Nigeria’s current woes, just as experts held that industrialisation must be prioritised to tame the nation’s huge penchant for importation.
His words: “This expo and mPAD are in tandem with the objective of the Federal Government as they were conceived to boost the technological base of the Nigerian manufacturing sector. We may be aware that one of the major problems of manufacturers is the continued use of obsolete machinery and equipment.”
Once the programme achieves its aim, Jacobs noted that the sector, particularly the small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) would grow production, address inefficiencies and contribute significantly to the national economy.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, admitting government’s appreciation of the challenges besetting the sector, however, noted that sustainable solutions were being worked out to complement the manufacturers. He urged them to available themselves of the opportunities being created by the ministry.
His Science and Technology counterpart, Ogbonnaya Onu, further stressed the need to patronise locally made goods with a view to creating market for the manufacturers.
At the forum, which also featured the Nigerian Raw Materials Exposition, he pledged support for players willing to drive the development of local raw materials.
But a Professor of Ceramic Engineering, Eguakhide Oaikhinan, maintained that until government provided an accurate database of the nation’s raw materials and as well as their business profiling, the development of the resources would remain elusive.
A Director at the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC), Moses Omolaja, said government was committed to tackling the challenges hindering effective exploitation of the nation’s natural resources.
He noted that government had captured the raw materials nationwide and was willing to work with the private sector.
The Managing Director, Clarion Events West Africa, organisers of the event, Dele Alimi, enthused that the fair would enable the different sectors of the economy deliver value.
“By exposing the raw materials available in the different parts of Nigeria through this medium, manufacturers are saved the rigours of sourcing for forex to import raw materials for their production,” he added.