Stakeholders at Equipment and Manufacturing West Africa (EMWA) 2023 Exhibition have charged the Federal Government to place the manufacturing sector at the forefront of its policies to engender economic growth and development.
They gave the advice at the EMWA 2023 exhibition and conference with the theme: “Reigniting Manufacturing to Drive Economic Growth and Development” on Tuesday in Lagos.
Mr Joseph Oru, Event Director, EMWA, said the advice was pertinent because manufacturing sector remains the catalyst for the growth and development of any nation.
Oru described the conference as a platform where expertise and knowledge could be shared.
According to him, the conference also serves as a testament to the ingenuity, innovation, and transformative power of the manufacturing sector.
He said that EMWA 2023 was also a training environment for manufacturing staff and a dynamic hub where cutting-edge technologies, revolutionary processes, and visionary minds converge and forge fruitful collaborations.
“All these come together to serve as a catalyst for innovation, partnerships, and the collective advancement of the manufacturing and industrial sector.
“From new innovations to ground-breaking automation solutions, from sustainable manufacturing practices to breakthrough research and development, this exhibition encapsulates the very essence of the manufacturing landscape.
“Through conferences, workshops, and interactive sessions led by industry experts, we aim to empower you with insights, strategies, and tools to navigate the ever- changing landscape of manufacturing.
“In spite of how the election year has turned out to be and with a new government in place, I urge them to come out, collaborate with the private sector and put manufacturing at the forefront of their policies to build a better Nigeria,” he said.
Mr Tumi Adeyemi, founder, ZenoLynk Technologies Ltd., a technology service provider for LagosRide, said a strong manufacturing base ensures self-sufficiency, reduces import dependency, and stimulates exports, thus bolstering the nation’s trade balance.
Adeyemi represented by Evy Nnaji, Chief Executive Officer, ZenoLynk Technologies Ltd. noted that Nigeria’s manufacturing industry over the years faced numerous obstacles such as inadequate infrastructure, unreliable power supply, limited access to finance, bureaucratic bottlenecks, and inconsistent policies.
These hurdles, he said, hindered the sector’s growth and competitiveness, leaving it below its full potential.
He, however, stated that in spite of the challenges, Nigeria’s manufacturing industry possessed immense potential for growth and development.
“Firstly, Nigeria is endowed with abundant natural resources; from oil and gas to solid minerals and agricultural produce, we have the raw materials necessary for manufacturing.
“By harnessing these resources effectively and employing modern technology, we can establish a thriving manufacturing sector that maximises value addition and reduces our dependence on imports.
“Secondly, Nigeria boasts a large and youthful population and our demographic dividend presents a significant advantage, as it provides a vast labour force that can be skilled, trained, and employed in the manufacturing industry.
“By investing in education, vocational training, and skill development, we can ensure that our youth possess the necessary competencies to drive innovation and productivity in the manufacturing sector,” he said.
He urged government to capitalise on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) opportunity of a vast market of 1.3 billion people, eliminating trade barriers for manufacturers to expand their reach, tap into new markets, and bolster export-oriented production.
“This agreement calls for strategic planning, increased competitiveness, and product diversification to position our manufacturing sector as a regional powerhouse.
“Lagos state is the commercial capital of Nigeria, whereas there’s adequate security and potential for businesses to reach its targeted growth and targets dues to its fast paced business community it holds.
“We welcome the international community to come and partner with us to grow a greater Lagos,” he said.
Mr Abubakar Aliyu, Former Director, Trade, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, describing manufacturing as the backbone of any strong economy, stated that no country could develop without industrialisation.
Aliyu said that efforts must be made to reignite the sector through promotion of technology adoption, improvement in human capital development and fostering partnerships.
“Manufacturing is one of the key sectors of the economy as it has many benefits such as job creation, innovation, improvement of standard of living and others.
“COVID-19 affected the mode of operation globally but there has since being a rebound in the manufacturing sector and we must find a way to catch up so we are not left behind.
“I urge all stakeholders to embrace collaboration to promote innovation and digitalisation and invest human capital development for the necessary skills to move the manufacturing sector forward,” he said.
Mr Ismail Balogun, President, Nigerian Indonesia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NICCI) and an exhibitor at EMWA, said the chamber activities was not limited to Indonesia alone but with the global village.
He stated that the chamber would continue to go wherever there was value for it members in and outside the country to increase trade volume for Nigeria.
Balogun revealed that between 2021 and 2022, trade balance between Indonesia and Nigeria grew from 2.6 billion dollars to 4.7 billion dollars.
“We would continue to aggressively promote awareness to improve bilateral trade relationship between both countries.
“With your help and interaction, our job to open Nigeria to new territories and drive investments would be actualised,” he said.