Exclusive interview with Mr. Yunusa S. Labaran, Substantive Director Trade, For: Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade & Investment – Host Ministry at the upcoming Nigeria Manufacturing Expo in March 2016.
1) What current developments in Nigeria’s manufacturing sector are you most excited about at the moment?
Thanks for this question. As a matter of fact in recent time the manufacturing sector has not been able to contribute maximally to the economic growth of this country because of challenges it has been facing in the area of energy and other critical infrastructure. However in recent time the country has witnessed stability in energy supply and this I believe would enhance production capacity of the manufacturing sector.
Diversification from oil based economy is the solution to the current dwindling fortune of oil market. The Ministry through the launching of the NIRP is therefore poised to diversify to areas Nigeria has comparative and competitive advantage.
2) What role can Government take to aid the development of the Manufacturing Industry?
The immediate past government and current government have realised the critical role of the manufacturing sector and that diversification is the key to survival of the economy.
We, the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade & Investment are supportive of this. It is important to the GDP of this country. To enhance the performance of the manufacturing sector, government has to address the energy and infrastructural challenges which has inhibited the maximum contribution of the sector to GDP and economic growth of this country.
3) What have been the most challenging aspects of the NIRP and the manufacturing sector as a whole?
The most prominent challenges are; supply side constraints, such as energy, infrastructural gaps, high cost of capital; low skills particularly, among the SMEs. However, the current government is addressing these issues through agencies such as Bank of Industry, Industrial Training Fund (ITF), SMEDAN and the SME Funds from the CBN.
4) As the host ministry for the MAN Expo (Nigeria Manufacturing Expo) please share your views on the Nigerian manufacturing sector. What needs to happen to take the Nigerian manufacturing sector to the next level?
We need to address our energy constraints, develop skills in the sector and provide greater support for SMEs as well as acquiring modern manufacturing technology.
To enhance the performance of SMEs, the Ministry through the GEM Project has launched the BDMP (Business Development Market Place) platform aimed at identifying the location of various SMEs in this country, constraints to growing their businesses, and thus providing them with technical and financial supports.
There will be several agenda topics aimed at supporting the key enablers of the NIRP discussed in the *mPAD round table sessions chaired by FMITI & MAN at the Nigeria Manufacturing Expo.
*Manufacturing Partnerships for African Development
– Industrial Clustering
– Factory Financing Mechanisms
– Synchronizing Value and Supply Chains
– ECOWAS Trading Zone
– Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP)
– Technical Workforce Training
– Energy Security
5) Which of these is of greatest importance to the development of the sector? And Why?
Even though all the listed are critical factors for the development of the manufacturing sector; infrastructure, energy Security and the implementation of the NIRP are of great importance to development of manufacturing sector.
It has been observed over the years that energy crisis, poor infrastructure such as road network, ports facilities, almost non-existence railway transportation, and the over dependence on oil which relegated the contribution of the manufacturing sector to the development of the economy, constituted impediment to the roles expected of the sector.
Therefore the NIRP which main objective is for diversification of the economy, and providing all enablers to actualise this objective is worth proper implementation by the current government.
6) What is the FMITI message to the International Export Councils and fellow Ministry Departments of Trade & Industry attending the mPAD sessions?
All relevant stakeholders should be at the Nigeria Manufacturing Expo and mPAD (Manufacturing Partnerships for African Development). Let’s look at the key challenges we face in this sector together and come up with the solution for an action plan to overcome them. A road map for revamping of the manufacturing sector be evolved for the consideration of government.
7) Why is the FMITI endorsing the MAN Expo (Nigeria Manufacturing Expo)?
We endorse the objectives of the event aimed at attracting FDI, supporting the NIRP in addressing supply side constraints as well as generation of jobs and wealth creation for Nigeria. These objectives are the corner stone of this government policy thrust and therefore require the support of all.
8 ) How important is the MAN Expo (Nigeria Manufacturing Expo on Nigeria’s manufacturing calendar?
First and foremost, the plan for the Nigeria Manufacturing Expo is apt and timely because of government eagerness to reposition the manufacturing sector which hitherto has been neglected due to over dependence on oil. The timing of the Expo is appropriate as we would have expected it to come much earlier in order to address the concerns of the sector.
9) What are you most looking forward to at the MAN Expo (Nigeria Manufacturing Expo?
I have been privileged to have attended international expositions organized in the world and the focuses have always been to showcase technological breakthrough of countries and attract the usage of such technologies to the needy countries. I envisaged that at the end of this expo, Nigeria manufacturers would be able to attract modern technology that can drive massive and speedy production of qualitative products for both domestic and international markets.