The Federal Government has announced plans to intensify developmental priorities towards providing basic infrastructures to increasing manufacturing capacity and national productivity.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, explained that policies have been put in place to encourage the private sector to partner with the Federal Government in the provision of critical infrastructure to make the nation's real sector of the economy globally competitive.
He pointed out that an improved transport infrastructure is expected to improve the time and cost of access to raw materials/finished goods and ensure wider market for the sale of manufactured products.
Fashola made this known at the opening ceremony of the 2019 edition of the Nigeria Manufacturing Equipment Expo (NME) and Manufacturing Partnership for African Development mPAD.
He said the promotion of manufacturing in Nigeria is high on the agenda of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, saying that this informed the flagship policy of the Federal Government known as the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), which focuses on: Stimulating growth in the economy; investing in the Nigerian people; and making the economy globally competitive.
He pointed out that the federal government is committed to enabling the private sector to operate at its optimum capacity in the manufacturing sub-sector of the economy by creating an attractive environment for better collaboration between the public and private sector
According to the Minister, the federal government's focus on previously comatose road projects on major arterial routes like the Enugu-Port Harcourt Highway, Apapa-Oworonshoki Highway, Lagos-Ibadan Highway, Kano-Maiduguri Highway, Lokoja-Benin Highway and Kaduna Eastern By pass to mention a few is not accidental, but targeted at increasing manufacturing capacity, maintaining that the projects are now making steady progress towards early completion.
In his words, "In this regard, the Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government in a bid to create an enabling environment for manufacturing and other businesses has intensified activities in the provision of basic infrastructure such as roads, power generation, rail lines and water."
He added that the eligible customer policy initiated by government to provide steady power to heavy consumers already has many manufacturing concerns listed as beneficiaries and applicants, stressing that the commitment of the federal government to "made-in-Nigeria" is an all embracing and multi-sectoral pursuit.
"In the same way that it affects agriculture and local content in manpower development in construction, so does it seek to unleash a manufacturing resolution in Nigeria. The recent directive to strengthen local production of textiles is further proof if any is still needed," he said.
Also, the president, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mansur Ahmed, said the introduction of the expo and mPAD by MAN is meant to boost the technological base of the Nigerian manufacturing sector which has been identified as one of the banes for the sector's growth and development.
He added that the 4th edition would be running simultaneously with the Nigerian Raw Materials (NiRAM) Expo, a programme of the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) designed to afford exhibitors as well as visitors the opportunity to be exposed to the entire manufacturing value chain.
According to him, the NiRAM expo is aimed at creating a platform where stakeholders in the raw materials value chain will come together to synergize, display and trade in available resources and raw materials with the users of these products.
He added that MAN is already making contributions at the continental level as the association has been given a leading role in the establishment of African Manufacturers Association (AMA) that would provide the platform for African manufacturers to collectively address the challenges confronting sustainable industrialization of Africa and trade in the continent.
He commended the present administration's significant progress so far in the effort to diversify the economy and its commitment to engage the organised private sector especially through the Industrial Policy and competitiveness council and the Economic Recovery Growth Plan.
"We particularly appreciate Mr. President, setting up the high level committee to undertake wide ranging consultations with key stakeholders to assess the impact on and readiness of our various sectors with regards to the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. When this committee concludes its work and submits its report, we expect that all critical issues and recommendations made by the stakeholders will be considered in taking the final decision on the matter," he added.
The Director-General, Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) Prof Hussaini Ibrahim said the expo promotes the diversification of the economy in line with the agenda of the government by supporting economic transformation away from heavy reliance on oil and gas exports.
Ibrahim urged visitors and stakeholders to exploit the platform to facilitate higher value added manufacturing activities within the country for increase production, thereby building local capacities, capabilities and technologies.
Ibrahim said the deliberate attempt of the expo and the council is focused on developing the manufacturing sector designed to promote quality growth, wealth creation and provide jobs.
"The expo has been useful in helping to create the much needed awareness to the increased local sourcing and utilization of bother primary and secondary raw materials.
"The result of the advocacy drive has helped in no small measure to improve out foreign direct investments through foreign partnerships and investment in local industry as well as enhance exportation of value added raw materials and products," he said.
The Event Manager, Nigeria Manufacturing and Equipment Expo, Nigeria Raw Material Expo, Clarion Events West Africa, Joseph Oru, said the manufacturing sector plays a significant role in economic development, saying that world over, industrialization acts as a catalyst that accelerates the pace of transformation and diversification of economies.
"This year, we are reflecting this trend through our theme "Optimising the value chain in the manufacturing sector to ensure industrialization". Aside from some of our new element, the 2019 event will showcase exhibitors, brands and the latest technological solutions not to mention the B2B matchmaking networking section that has excess of potential connections," he said.