By Charles Nwaoguji
The president of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Engr. Mansur Ahmed has identified application of new technology by manufacturers as critical in transforming the industry, make it more productive and competitive.
Ahmed, in his welcome address at the opening of the fifth Nigeria Manufacturing And Equipment Expo (NME) and Sixth Nigeria Raw Materials Expo, in Lagos, noted that the emergence of new technology, changing markets and the upcoming African free trade market demands collaboration of stakeholders to anticipate and respond appropriately to the evolving manufacturing eco-system which has been ushered in the rapid adoption of these new and innovative technology.
The MAN president explained that new technologies which are largely driven by digital revolution such as robotics, cloud computing, big data, artificial intelligence, additive manufacturing are influencing manufacturing input and output.
Ahead of the implementation of the AfCFTA which will open our manufacturing sector to a much larger market, Nigeria manufacturers have to adopt the use of new technology to compete favourably with other nations that will be participating in the free trade market, he said.
Speaking further, Ahmed said, “One critical challenge before us is inadequate energy supply for industrial use. As manufacturers we cannot achieve competiveness with the current state of our electricity supply. It is thus, expedient that government scale-up its plan for the energy sector to reduce cost, improve processes, maximise value addition and generate employment. “There is also the need to increase skills and labour productivity and encourage more women into the manufacturing field in this regard.
The nation’s current energy projection and currently generated supply is below the expected level required to drive an industrialized economy.”
He stated that studies consistently confirm that energy is the single most important constraint to productivity and competitiveness of the sector in Nigeria and that the impact is felt across micro, small and medium as well as large manufacturers.
However, he noted 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 for sustained effort to bring about significant improvement in the quantum, quality and consistent supply of electricity.
“The vision of industrialized Nigeria would remain an illusion until we resolve the electric power challenge in our economy.”
Speaking on the event, Ahmed said, “This annual market place for stakeholders affords us an opportunity to examine the state of the manufacturing sector and deliberate on the roadmap for the development.
Both exhibitions 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 Floor since inception in 2016.
As we kick-off with the opening ceremony of the 5th edition of the Nigerian Manufacturing Equipment Expo (NME) and the 6th edition of the Nigerian Raw Materials Expo (NIRAM), I find it very gratifying that we have been able to sustain an event of this magnitude with far reaching impact over the years.
“The 2019 edition of the Expo impacted greatly on the Nigerian economy, as attested to by participants across various sectors of the economy. Indeed, this year’s edition is a continuation of the success story we recorded in the previous editions and we are indeed grateful to all those who have continued to support this cause.”
The president stated that this NME Expo is quite unique because, previous editions were organized in collaboration with our South African partners, Clarion Events West Africa but with their exit, the organization transferred the sole right for management of the co-located Expo to the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria and Raw Materials Research and Development Council respectively.
“Owing to the significant impact of the Expo on the manufacturing sector and the economy at large, MAN and RMRDC deemed it appropriate to build on the success so far, hence this continued collaboration.
“Through this annual event which provides a common ground for large manufacturing organizations and SMEs to explore new production process that will increase their production output, 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.
“The NIRAM Expo is aimed at creating a platform where stakeholders in the raw materials supply chain will come together to synergize, display and trade in available resources and raw materials with the users of these 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 Government backward integration programme.”
Commenting on the theme of the 2020 EXPO which is “The Fourth Industrial Revolution and the Nigerian Manufacturing sector”. he said theme is informed by the observed global trends and current development experienced in some developing nations, which have used industrialization as a growth tool to drive and transform their economy as well as improve their standards of living. Notable experiences from the East Asian Tigers-Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, China, India, and Vietnam, have illustrated the transformative nature of industrialization.
Ahmed was confident that if provided a conducive operating environment, manufacturers in Nigeria given their track record of resilience and resourcefulness will rise to meet the challenges.
“The times ahead in the free continental market will also come new challenges such as harmonization of trade facilitation practices. These developments should bring government and businesses together as joint managers of the economy with the private sector truly at the steering wheel.”, he added.