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COVID – 19:  Manufacturers create digital data to weather the storm

……As Apapa Branch commissioned new office

By Charles Nwaoguji

Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has created digital data base which would provide single trusted source of primary data required to conduct due diligence checks on counterparties in Africa to  weather the storm of  the COVID-19 pandemic.

The President of MAN, Engr. Mansur Ahmed said that  the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the status quo in many aspects which has affected the manufacturing sector.

Ahmed, who stated this at the 49th annual general meeting, said that the  platform is positioned as a centralized go to platform for fulfilling client due diligence(CDD) and know your customer (KYC) requirements throughout the African continent.

He noted that the digital platform would enables African financial institutions; corporate and SMEs to meet expectations of business partners and prospective investors who are interested in doing business in Africa and desirous of credible organizations to partner across any country in Africa.

He said, “It opportunities for companies to attract foreign investment and for those interested in selling their businesses, the opportunity to increase potential of the new owners. The secretariat has therefore commenced work on populating the platform with member-companies details in order to benefit from what the platform offers.”

He stated that other efforts they are making was to ensure that manufacturing companies remain afloat include: Advocacy for more stimulus and intervention measures from the government to manufacturers to cushion the effect of the pandemic, looting and destruction by hoodlums who hijacked the ENDSARS protest and other myriad of challenges facing manufacturers.

Commenting on the new office acquired by MAN, Apapa Branch, he commended the branch chairman for the success made so far.

He said that this is great achievement by the branch which he called on members to emulate this good works.

Looking at the manufacturing sector in retrospect, Ahmed stated that the growth of the sector has remained stunted over the years, the various reasons despite numerous reforms by the federal government aimed at repositioning the economy. Reason for this is that the reforms were not deep enough to accelerate the growth of the sector.

He pointed out that  the lingering challenges the sector has been facing have not abated, adding these challenges could be attributed to many factors ranging from funding challenges especially availability of the long term funds, high interest rates, foreign exchange availability, poor support infrastructure, multiple taxes and levies by various tiers and arms of government, policy summersault/inconsistency, absence of core industries that would produce raw materials, insecurity, to absence of inadequate support to encourage the growth of small and medium scale industries.

He said that with these constraints, Nigerian economy grows by 2.27% in 2019, post highest quarterly growth since 2016 recession. Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 2.55% in real terms in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2019, up from 2.38% growth recorded in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Also, speaking the President of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Maze Sam Ohuabunwa  said the Nigerian manufacturing sector has long been in dire straits even before the advent of COVID-19 and naturally became a major victim because of previous.

Nevertheless, he stated that the COVID-19 pandemic and the immense disruption to global trade seems to have forced the Nigerian authorities for the first time in a very long time to begin to think about domestic production.

He stated that the stimulus packages instituted by the CBN and the special intervention funds for healthcare Manufacturing and SMEs have provided a silver lining for the probable recovery and sustainability of Manufacturing in Nigeria.

“Take a realistic a holistic look at theirs business and your business model. You may need to rethink your business and business model because many assumptions have changed since COVID-19. You will manufacturers must need to review your source of inputs, processing system, financing options, and distribution plan amongst other items that require deliberate review to assure currency and alignment with prevailing realities,” he said.

He said that this is the time to take the bull by the horns. With depleting national income, declining oil revenue, chronic shortage of foreign exchange, our country’s option are becoming limited.

“We need to be audacious and bullish and follow the examples of a few of our country men to vastly invest in local manufacturing with focus on utilizing local inputs,” he added..

Speaking in the same vein, the  Chairman of Apapa Branch of MAN, Engr. Frank Ike Onyebu said the manufacturing sector has been recognized as the engine of growth of most economies and a catalyst to economic development.

Onyebu stated that the sector continues to provide a pathway from subsistence agriculture to rising incomes and living standard.

“ It is, therefore, important to position the sector in a way that it can play its role of a facilitator of economic development and growth,” he said.

Onyebu called on the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu to deploy resources towards eliminating the gridlock along Mile 2 to Tin-can Island/ Apapa expressway.

“We also plead for the government’s intervention in the rehabilitation of the road  networks within the amuwo odofin, kirikiri industrial areas and Apapa/Tin-can Island ports axis,”  he said.

However, he said the manufacturers would want to see more action on infrastructure development in the state, especially on power generation through IPP schemes, improved road network particularly in the state’s industrial estates, simpler and more coordinated tax administration.

“ We want to appeal to the governor to intervene and direct local government councils and other government agencies who are yet to honour the inspection harmonization ordered by government to do so urgently and stop the individual inspection tagged task force on follow up inspection,” he added.




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