The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has hinted that it has become a matter of necessity and urgency to deepen awareness of the imperative of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) in the manufacturing sector of the economy. This has become urgent considering the latest reports from the stable of National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), putting the country’s manufacturing sector’s total output contribution at 10 per cent, with an average growth rate of approximately 2.3 per cent over the last five quarters.
The President of MAN, Otunba Francis Meshioye, who stated this during a chat with New Telegraph in Lagos, said the country needed to develop the right strategies to position the economy as the number one manufacturing hub of the African economy with AfCFTA implementation. Specifically, the MAN president explained that manufacturing sector development was key to industrialisation in Nigeria even though, sadly, industrialisation in Nigeria remains at a very low ebb.
According to him, evidences from several parts of the world, including China, the United States, Japan, Germany, and South Korea, have shown the importance of the manufacturing sector in building a resilient economy. Meshioye cited, for instance, in 2021, average manufacturing output accounted for as high as 35 percent of Ireland’s GDP growth; 27.44 per cent in the case of China, and 48 per cent of Puerto Rico’s economy.
“In the United States, it accounted for more than 60 percent of the total exports and about 35 percent of the US economy’s total productivity growth. “In Nigeria, the contribution of the manufacturing sector to the total output is not higher than 10 per cent, with an average growth rate of approximately 2.3 per over the last five quarters. “Manufacturing sector development is key to industrialization. Sadly, the growth of industrialisation in Nigeria remains at a very low ebb.
“Based on the African Development Bank (AFDB)’s industrialisation index, Nigeria is yet to perform impressively. “The UNIDO’s industrial competitive performance index has equally shown that Nigeria’s industrial sector has a low competitive capacity. “There is no better time than now to confront the challenge of low competitiveness and abysmal performance of this important sector.”
The renowned industrial- ist pointed out that since the country’s manufacturing sector has been experiencing successive low performance over the years, “we are looking at the promising growth trajectory and development opportunities that are embedded in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) for the Nigerian manufacturing sector.” However, the philanthropist admitted that external and domestic challenges had forced Nigerian economy to be experiencing prevalent challenges in all fronts since 2015/2016, triggered by economic recession and others.
According to him, “the economy, and in particularly, the manufacturing sector has been the worst hit by the combination of external and domestic challenges. “Starting from 2015/2016, the Nigerian economy ex- pressed a recession triggered by the global financial crisis that was due to the sharp decline in the oil market. Just as we were beginning to recover from the recession, a global health pandemic emerged, disrupted economic activities and global supply chains, pos- ing a significant threat to industries.”
While speaking on President Bola Tinubu-led administration’s first 100 days in office, Meshioye said: “Our association has taken due notice of your policy pronouncements, particularly within your first 100 days in office. “Some bold policy actions, including the removal of fuel subsidy and introduction of managed float of the exchange rate, have elicited the commendation of most economic actors and stakeholders.
“The fallout of those measures have equally thrown up some policy imperatives that should be addressed in order for the economy to rebound and for the citizenry to appreciate and reap the long-term benefits of the various reform measures.”