By Innocent OROK
The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) an umbrella body of all manufacturing individuals and organizations in Nigeria will between September 2nd to 4th holds its 47th Annual General Meeting at the Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island in Lagos State.
As expected the annual event will attract huge personalities, resource persons, public and private individuals as well as business concerns , not only in Nigeria, but across the African Continent and beyond.
The gathering for this year is expected to discuss topical issues concerning the body and the various interests they represent.
Already, the National President of MAN, Engineer Mansur Ahmed is seeking the clarification of the Federal Government of Nigeria on the recent pronouncement by President Mohammadu Buhari that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should not grant Forex to food importers. Ahmed in a recent chat with journalists seeks the clarification of the government new policy and on what type or category of food products the government forex ban policy will affect.
According to him, there are raw materials which manufacturers imports to produce finished food products in Nigeria, which the new order have not really specified.
This year MAN, AGM is expected to discuss a basket full of burning issues that is affecting manufacturing in Nigeria. It is expected that such topical issues to top the association’s discussion this year will be the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, already signed by 54 African Countries including Nigeria.
The AfCFTA which was signed to law on 27th March 2018 and became effective on 30th May 2019 was initially signed by 44 African Countries in Kigali, Rwanda in March 2018.
This agreement is meant to create a Tariff Free Continent that can grow local businesses, boost intra – African trade, developed local industries and create jobs.
The Nigerian government recently signed the AfCFTA pack on 7th July 2019 making her the 54th out of the 55 Countries in the African Continent to do so.
The AFCFTA is set to fully kick-off on 1st July 2020 and is expected to create jobs and generate over $35billion annually for the African Continent.
HOW PREPARED ARE NIGERIAN MANUFACTURERS TO DRIVE THE AfCFTA?
It is no longer news that Nigeria is Africa’s largest market. With an estimated population of 200million people, Nigeria has what it takes to be on the drivers seat of the AfCFTA pack to win the market, not only in consuming other Countries products, but equally exporting its goods to flood the continent markets of other African Countries.
The manufacturing sector in Nigeria has the greatest opportunity to pulled all it acts together to challenge this feat and overcome it .
It is my opinion that MAN should collaborate with the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investments to map out favorable opportunities that will help the Nigeria manufacturer fully participate and sell his products in the new African emerging market.
The MAN meeting should take a critical look at the preparedness and tools put in place by government agencies like the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), National Agency for Foods,Drugs and Administration Control (NAFDAC) among others to help the Nigerian manufacturing sector match up with its other counterparts in the Continent.
Another critical factor which the manufacturing group should look at is the dominance of foreign companies in the disguise of manufacturing made in Nigerian goods in the Country.
These foreign cartels have continued to abuse the privileges abound for genuine Nigerian manufacturers by flooding the Country with importation of foreign repackaged products in the name of made in Nigerian goods.
Our investigation has shown that most foreign companies dominance in Lagos and other big cities in the Country which registered with the Nigerian Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) as a manufacturing concerns are now doing importation and repackaging with some faking SON and NAFDA.C numbers.
If genuine manufacturers must benefit from the AfCFTA deal, the government agencies in collaboration with MAN must check these abuses.
The meeting should also seek partnership with power and transportation ministries and companies to fashion out a workable terms that will guarantee power supply and unhindered movement of goods and persons across the continent in the new trading pack
The issue of Metrology is another critical factor MAN must look at in its forth coming AGM.
“The challenges expected in the implementation of the AfCFTA Agreement recently approved for Africa. Metrology is the driving tool and must be supported by all if this Agreement will not be seen as another Berlin Conference. Every stakeholder such as consumers, manufacturers, importers or traders is expected to imbibe this principle of equity in all commercial transactions. Metrology is the Gateway in national quality infrastructure”. This was the strong position put up by Engr. Bede Obayi, Director, Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) Metrology Institute, Enugu.
The MAN, 47th AGM should hit the ground running to prepare Nigerian manufacturing sector for their readiness to dominate the AfCFTA market in 2020. To achieve this MAN should set up a committee comprising of the relevant government agencies and Ministries, public and private concerns, interest groups and individuals to fashion out a road map that will lead Nigerian manufacturers dominance of the AFCFTA.
Innocent OROK is Maritime Journalist/Commentator
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