From Anthony Nwachukwu and Cyriacus Nnaji, Lagos
President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mansur Ahmed, has called on the Federal Government to scale up its plan for the energy sector to reduce cost, improve processes, maximise value addition and generate employment.
Ahmed made the call Tuesday in Lagos during the opening of the three-day Fifth Nigeria Manufacturing and Equipment Expo (NME) and Sixth Nigeria Raw Materials Expo in Lagos.
In his address on the theme of the Expo, “The Fourth Industrial Revolution and the Nigerian Manufacturing Sector,” he stated: “One critical challenge before us is inadequate energy supply for industrial use.
He noted that studies have consistently confirmed energy as the single most important constraint to productivity and competitiveness of the manufacturing sector in Nigeria, with the impact felt across micro, small, medium and large manufacturers.
“As manufacturers, we cannot achieve competiveness with the current state of our electricity supply,” Ahmed said.
“It is thus expedient that government scales up its plan for the energy sector to reduce cost, improve processes, maximise value addition and generate employment.”
He further stressed the need to increase skills for and labour productivity, and to encourage more women to venture into manufacturing. He added that the nation’s current energy projection and actual generation are below the expected requirement to drive an industrialized economy.
Citing such Asian Tigers as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, China, India and Vietnam as examples, he said the theme was informed by the observed global trends and current realities in some developing nations that have used industrialisation as a growth tool to drive and transform their economy and improve their standards of living.
According to Ahmed, the annual market place for stakeholders affords an opportunity to examine the state of the manufacturing sector and deliberate on the roadmap for its development.
He maintained that both exhibitions would continue to serve a great purpose in improving the status of the nation’s manufacturing sector, particularly with the representation of the entire manufacturing value chain at the Expo since inception in 2016.
More so, he said that “MAN has taken the challenge of leading the manufacturing sector to play a vital role in the nation’s vision of becoming one of the leading industrialized economies in Africa.
This is through the annual event which provides a common ground for large manufacturing organizations and SMEs to explore new production process that will increase their output.”
According to the MAN President, the NIRAM Expo, on the other hand, aimed at creating a platform where stakeholders in the raw materials supply chain will synergize, display and trade in available resources and raw materials with the users of the products.
“With this in mind, we intend to close the information gaps and encourage local sourcing of available raw materials by manufacturing industries, which is in line with government’s backward integration programme,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Ahmed stressed that the emergence of new technology, changing markets and the upcoming African Free Trade market call for stakeholder collaboration to anticipate and respond appropriately to the evolving manufacturing eco-system, which the rapid adoption of the new and innovative technology ushers in.
“These new technologies which are largely driven by digital revolution such as robotics, cloud computing, big data, artificial intelligence and additive manufacturing are influencing manufacturing input and output,” he noted.
Therefore, ahead of the implementation of the AfCFTA, which will open the manufacturing sector to a much larger market, Nigerian manufacturers have to adopt the use of new technologies to enable them compete favourably with other nations in the free trade market.
He maintained that beyond manufacturing, all industrial and commercial businesses in the country also suffer from energy inadequacy and inefficiency.
“It is for this reason that investors in the economy will continue to urge a sustained effort to bring about significant improvement in the quantum, quality and consistent supply of electricity.
“The vision of an industrialized Nigeria would remain an illusion until we resolve the electric power challenge in our economy.”