The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has expressed concerns about the slow pace of industrialisation growth in the manufacturing sector, adding that many States in the country were experiencing high de-industrialisation with almost half of its thriving manufacturing establishments becoming obsolete.
MAN President, Mansur Ahmed, while speaking on "Leveraging on Nigeria-China economic relations to re-industrialise the economy" at a forum in Kano, expressed concerns about the de-industrialisation process across the states, even as he called for action to check the process.
"World over, the manufacturing sector has proven to be a key driver of rapid economic growth through value addition and conversion of raw materials to finished goods for consumption and export with linkages to employment creation both direct and indirect.
"Historically, Kano State has been a major hub for industrial and commercial activities and was known as such for many years. Unfortunately, due to a number of reasons the manufacturing capacity has significantly declined over the years.
"This in the light of continued rise in population has also contributed to the increase of poverty in the state. It is therefore imperative that collaborative efforts from the government and private sector are harnessed to restore the manufacturing industry in Kano", he added.
On the need to leverage Chinese influence on the global economy to aid development in countries like Nigeria, Ahmed noted that MAN as an advocacy group will explore opportunities in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in which Nigeria joined in 2018, to explore investment opportunities in industrial and SMEs development, trade facilitation and human capital development.
"It is our desire to explore during this dialogue how the growing Nigeria-China economic relations and the BRI can be leveraged to attract more investment in our manufacturing sector and reverse the direction of de-industrialization on our country", he added.
On his part, the Emir of Kano, Sanusi Muhammadu Sanusi, called on the Federal Government to rise to the task of addressing the increasing rate of poverty in Nigeria.
The Emir in his keynote address tagged "Poverty and Underdevelopment in Africa" charged African leaders to invest in young people to alleviate poverty.
"In an environment of rising barriers to trade and US isolationism, where does Africa fit in? As a rule of thumb, the "winners" in a trade war are trade and current account deficit countries - in other words most of Africa.
"But more importantly, this may be the opportunity for Africa to rethink "hyper-globalisation".
"Part of the problem in Africa has been insufficient focus on the development of a manufacturing base. For all the talk of diversification, a formalised service economy is closely allied to manufacturing - and can only come after it.
"Africa needs structural change more than just "growth". And for this much greater levels of investment are required", he added.
Despite the opportunities offered by China, Sanusi noted that the country has become a major lender to Africa in recent years, but there is uncertainty about whether it will continue to extend credit and how some its debts will be restructured.
For MAN's former President, Bashir Borodo, there are concerns about the supply side constraints, especially in the area raw materials, that have continued to limit local producers' capacity to compete both within and outside the country.
"In the domestic market, we struggle against unfair competition from goods imported or smuggled into the country from low cost and relatively advanced economies. Outside the country, our exports are not competitive because of the inadequacies of the macroeconomic environment, including infrastructure and export facilitation policies", he said.