Manufacturers seek enhanced export capabilities to boost economic growth

(Last Updated On: July 11, 2024)Stories by Merit Ibe, ibe.merit@yahoo.com 
To bolster regional trade and improve declining foreign exchange, manufacturers are emphasising the need to enhance manufacturing export capabilities for industrial growth.
Stakeholders believe that it is high time Nigeria moved away from resource-dependence, build capabilities for economic and industrial diversification, build clustering and agglomeration as industrial policy instrument.
They also noted that the  country has the potential to become a top exporter of finished products, but the industrial sector has been bedevilled by several challenges that have slowed down its growth for decades.
So, industrialisation would ensure Nigeria taps into regional and global markets to boost income streams, restore factories, provide corporate lending opportunities to propel business growth. These involve a series of technological developments that improve production and the economy.
According to them, the non-oil sector is a reflection of the state of the country’s manufacturing sector.
Primary products have continued to occupy a prominent place in Nigeria’s non-oil export chart that serve as inputs for European, American and Asian factories.
Nigeria is not exporting much and the federal government is still doing little to improve non-oil exports despite its promises to restore the country to an exporting nation and the reverse the foreign exchange crisis that has continued to pull down the country’s economic growth.
They proffered improved infrastructure, incentives, adequate funding, policy consistency, address rising insecurity, among others to boost the industrial sector for economic  growth.
Chairman, SMEs Group of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Daniel Dickson-Okezie viewed that one of the most effective strategies for rapid economic growth is the accumulation of export capability to drive sustained exports of manufactured goods leading to foreign exchange earnings, adding that African countries have long been exporting raw materials that others use as basis for wealth generation.
Appreciating the  natural resource abundance in the country,  Dickson-Okezie  noted that the nature of policies and the institutional context within which a country operates, determine the development trajectory and outcome.
“To me, greater support for manufacturing, export and logistics industries, will help develop more resilient and knowledge-based economy.
“There is the  need to strategically promote the rebuilding of industrial technological capabilities for manufacturing, both for domestic market to reduce imports and for manufactured exports, invest more in infrastructure and institutions that foster ease of doing business.”
The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), has continued to harp that manufacturers spend 40 percent of their total production cost on generating energy for their businesses, which is not sustainable in anyway, noting that for Nigeria’s products to be competitive, the government must provide the enabling infrastructure for manufacturing to thrive.
To the association,  availability of adequate infrastructure is also a major determinant of the success of every country’s industrial sector; however, Nigeria does not have adequate infrastructure to grow businesses, especially developed transport systems.
It is impossible to talk about infrastructure without discussing power. Energy is a key element of the production process. Nigeria’s inability to supply and distribute sufficient electricity has left businesses at the mercy of generators powered by diesel and petrol, whose prices have surged in recent months.
This raises the production costs for manufacturers significantly and forecloses their chances of competing with international peers.
Chairman of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria Export Promotion Group (MANEG),Odiri Erewa-Meggison, echoed the importance of the EEG, which she said helps exporters elevate and cope with pressures from the cost of doing business, break somewhat even and compete.
Export incentives are regulatory, legal, monetary, or tax programs that are designed to encourage businesses to export certain types of goods or services.
Incentives to encourage the export of finished products such as the Export Expansion Grant (EEG) have to be introduced to boost manufacturing exports.
Meggison stated that without the export grant, it is difficult for Nigerian manufacturers to be competitive in the export market amid a challenging business environment.
“Government must address every bottleneck that has made exporters lose trust in the scheme and make its process transparent.”
Fro  Frank Onyebu,  ex chair, MAN,  policy consistency will enhance investor confidence and attract more foreign direct investments into the manufacturing sector.
“Government needs to always think through policy measures before implementation. Businesses thrive on a stable environment. Conversely, nothing kills businesses like uncertainty.
“The government must create and implement deliberate policies. Emphasis should be given to provision of adequate electricity supplies to factories as well as an upgrade of dilapidated infrastructure and improvement of the operating environment for manufacturing.
“The government needs to enact policies that would be endearing not just to foreign investors but also to local investors. We need to create and rigidly implement policies that are friendly for investment.
Adequate funding cannot be over emphasised.”
Several manufacturers have complained that they cannot access most funds advertised by the government.
While some manufacturers have accessed funding from the CBN, Bank of Industry and others, however, the funds are not easily accessible by all players.
“There should be  monitoring of specialised funds domiciled in the deposit money banks to ensure they are fairly disbursed to the right candidates.”
On rising insecurity, Onyebu noted that security  is paramount for businesses to thrive as
worsening insecurity is putting a lot of investments at risk.
“In the North-East and North-West, some manufacturers have fled, leaving their investments and farms, due to the activities of terrorists and bandits. In the southern part of Nigeria, investors lose their businesses at every slightest provocation.
Nigeria must offer a low and organised tax system, cheap funding, empower its manpower and improve its infrastructure if it wants to industrialise.”
Funlayo Bakare-Okeowo, managing director and chief executive officer, FAE Limited, said the government needs to be intentional about growing the manufacturing industry, adding the country must give priority to the sector if it wants to industrialise and grow its economy.
For the Founder, Dasun Integrated Farms Ltd, DIFL Nigeria, Bosun Solarin, Nigeria cannot continue to do things the same way and expect different results, adding that, as a nation, we must act with sustainable strategies to realise a better Nigeria we hope for, one that is driven and flourishing based on non-oil export.
Solarin, who has been actively exporting Nigeria products on international scale, decried the structural defect pulling back many Nigerians small businesses.
She explained that businesses that do not have a proper accounting system and record-keeping systems will be unable to receive support or grants to grow their businesses from reputable donor agencies.
She recommended the creation of an export civil society sector group that will help fight policies that do not support exporters and resolve a situation where exporters are tossed to and fro.
“Until we put our differences behind us, mend, change our ways, allow integrity, trust, accountability, credibility and through a most determined effort, build a team that is formidable enough to withstand detractors, when our advocacy becomes stronger, then we will begin to move closer to our destination.
“Business membership organisations must play an advocacy role in capacity building, business growth, trade facilitation and funding opportunities for businesses insetting up with standards for successful trading,” she pointed out.
She said efficiencies will come from proactively transforming how business is done, saying, collaboration is the new competition.
The post Manufacturers seek enhanced export capabilities to boost economic growth appeared first on The Sun Nigeria.

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